Algeria: Prison Sentence For Journalist Defers Hope For Democratic Reforms
Madrid:- The Hammamet Court in the province of Tebessa, in eastern Algeria, sentenced Abdel-Sami Abdel-Hay due to an old case that started in 2013.
He was arrested on the pretext of participating in the trafficking of a journalist who had previously been travel-banned because of an article he had written about former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his brother Saïd. The Algerian journalist announced a hunger strike after a court ruling was issued against him.
Abd al-Hayy had been arrested two years before that time, and subjected to temporary imprisonment without trial. He was temporarily released, and then travelled to perform his journalistic work abroad. He had often entered and left Algeria before his last arrest, which arose after his return from Paris.
Skyline International states that the Algerian Public Prosecution Office demanded the imposition of sanctions for up to 20 years against journalist Abdel Samea and his colleague.
The organization spells out how the authorities took advantage of Abdel Hay’s return to Algeria from Paris, owing to family and personal matters. His wife had given birth while in intensive care for her difficult health situation.
The ruling against Abdel-Hay came after an announcement of newly-elected President Abdelmajid Taboun about the settlement of the situation regarding electronic journalism in the country and of decisions that facilitate the work of the press in the country.
President Taboun’s decision is particularly disturbing, as the country needs to be freed of restrictions on press freedoms so as to allow dissenting opinion. The verdict against journalist Abdul Hay does not indicate positive signs regarding freedom of the press.
Algeria and Democracy
Skyline International views the verdict against journalist Abd al-Hay as an attempt to terrorize the press and stresses the need to drop the charges against journalists who were arrested or tried prior to the protests that started in February 2019. There was supposed to be the beginning of a new era in the country based on democratic principles.
Concluding its statement, Skyline International refers to the new president’s great responsibility to carry out reforms in the press.
It demands that the reforms include laws guaranteeing the freedom of journalists to work without restrictions, and has called on President Abdelmajid Taboun to drop the verdict and all charges against the journalist Abdel Sami Abdel Hay.