Algeria Imprisons Journalist for “Libellous Comments”
Algerian journalist Manseur Si Mohamed was sentenced to two months in prison and fined 50,00o dinars Wednesday by a court in Mascara for “libellous comments,” according to Reporters Without Borders. Mohamed, who is the bureau chief of the French-language newspaper La Nouvelle République and head of the Mascara branch of the Algerian Journalists’ Union, was convicted for writing an article in December that criticized the Council of State for failing to apply Supreme Court rulings and penalizing public authorities. “Imprisoning a journalist for a press offence is unworthy of a country that has decriminalized defamation in its new media law which took effect in January,” the press freedom organization said.
Meanwhile, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) denounced the arrest and trial of four activists on charges of assembly and peaceful condemnation for the imprisonment of another activist, Abdel-qader Kharba, a member in the national commission for the unemployed rights and the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights. ANHRI demanded the immediate release of the activists and an end to their trial. The arrests come after new legislative amendments giving the Algerian government heightened powers over civil society, especially the political sphere in general.
In related news, Lamine Chikhi reports that Algeria’s government is suffering from disagreements over who should be the favorite to be the next president, “exposing divisions within the ruling elite that could shatter the country’s fragile stability.” The discord could potentially awaken conflicts with Islamist militants. “I think 2014 is actually the potential flashpoint in terms of political stability in Algeria … I am thinking more about struggles and conflicts within the (system),” Riccardo Fabiani, North Africa analyst with Eurasia Group, said.