Independent journalism under threat in Algeria
July 1, NY: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) voices support for journalists with the KBC TV channel and the El Watan newspaper and calls on the Algerian authorities to respect their independence after both media outlets were the victims of police operations yesterday (23 June).
During the day, members of the national gendarmerie interrupted recording of the KBC satirical programme Ness Stah (which is broadcast daily during the month of Ramadan) and prevented employees from going back to work. KBC is owned by the Arabic-language media group El Khabar.
In the evening, police surrounded the French-language newspaper El Watan's new headquarters and were still there this afternoon, preventing anyone from entering and forcing El Watan's staff to resume working in their old premises.
In both cases, the authorities said the media outlets lacked the necessary permits. They gave the same grounds five days ago when seals were placed on the studios used to record the KBC programme Ki hna Ki enass, which employs 70 people.
“We were already very concerned for El Khabar and now we are for El Watan as well,” said Yasmine Kacha, the head of RSF's North Africa desk. “If these media, which have fought so hard for the right to inform, lack certain permits, they should be allowed some time to sort things out.
“The speed and aggressiveness with which the authorities have acted in this past week suggests that their real aim is to get rid of certain critical media. We affirm our solidarity with the independent journalism that these two media organizations embody in Algeria and we urge the authorities not to obstruct their work.”
On 15 June, a court in the Algiers district of Bir Mourad Rais provisionally suspended the sale of part of the El Khabar group's shares to Ness Prod, a privately-owned Algerian company. In a statement, RSF said it was shocked by the decision and urged the authorities to respect the wishes of El Khabar's owners and journalists.
Algeria is ranked 129th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index.
The Oslo Times International News Network/IFEX