Skyline Condemns Muzzling of Dissent and Restricting Freedom of Press in Algeria
STOCKHOLM - Skyline International condemned the Algerian authorities' unlawful and arbitrary decision to block the independent news websites " Maghreb Emergent" and "Radio M" on April 9th.
The Stockholm-based international organization considers that the restrictions imposed on the Internet show the repressive (nature of the) regime — that does not accept different opinions — and it is a flagrant violation of freedoms and the right to access information.
Skyline added that international covenants and agreements guaranteed in the right to freedom of expression and the press, including Article 19 of the UDHR, protect the right of citizens to express their views, and to share and access information: "everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression". This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference as well as the right to seek, receive, and share information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.
Maghreb Emergent started operating in 2010 as a leading website specialized in economic news, before its team launched the first local Internet radio broadcast in Algeria, awaiting to obtain a license.
The website has been critical of the authorities since the era of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The website and radio are well-known for expressing the demands of the popular movement, and for hosting activists and members of the opposition to the government, whom the pro-government media refused to host.
In this context, Skyline rejects the Algerian government's justification of blocking the two websites on the pretext of receiving foreign funding, and considering them as "a media arm and a soft power, working for the benefit of foreign organizations”. Skyline considers that the government's justification is a provocation and jeopardizes the freedom of the media.
The organization has warned against the Algerian authorities' muzzling of dissent and restrictions on the independent media, and which are contrary to the Algerian's President Abdelaziz Tebboune commitments to protect the freedom of expression and all freedoms in the country.
In line with this issue, Skyline International warned of the danger posed by the Algerian authorities in exploiting the emergency crisis during the Coronavirus outbreak, in order to settle political issues, as they did in the past with the Hirak movement, other activists, journalists, and independent media.
Recently, an Algerian court sentenced the journalist Soufiane Marrakchi to eight months in prison for "importing broadcasting equipment without a license”, and broadcasting images of the popular movement during demonstrations in the country.
Also, Algerian authorities arrested journalists Khaled Drareni, the Algeria correspondent of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and Said Boudour and Belkacem Gir, in separate incidents related to their media work.
Accordingly, Skyline requested the Algerian authorities to back down on their hideous campaign against journalists and independent media and to respect their international obligations regarding the press and public freedoms.
Skyline also stressed that Internet service providers in Algeria must observe the "United Nations Guidelines on Business and Human Rights", which are the most accepted set of human rights principles for business, and reconsider their blind cooperation with the authorities.