ARTICLE 19 has condemned the three year prison sentence given to independent journalist Khaled Drareni on August 10, 2020.
Drareni, has been detained since March 29, when he was arrested for reporting on a peaceful march that was part of the Hirak, a movement that is calling for democratic reform in Algeria. Yesterday, he was sentenced to three years in prison for “inciting an unarmed gathering” and “endangering national unity.”
“Drareni’s arrest and sentencing is a worrying crackdown on press freedom in Algeria. We remind the Algerian authorities that journalism is not a crime,” said Saloua Ghazouani, regional director of ARTICLE 19 MENA.
“We call for this aberrant sentence to be overturned and for Drareni to be released.”
Massive protests at the end of February 2019, forced President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to announce that he would not make a bid for a fifth presidential term. However, the promises of political reform have not been met and over the last year, the authorities have engaged in a repressive crackdown on protestors, activists and journalists. Despite this, people continued to take to the streets in weekly demonstrations against the government, known as the Hirak. Following the coronavirus outbreak, restrictions to the right to assembly meant that these could no longer take place.
Ghazouani added: “The authorities need to respect the rights of citizens to protest for political change. Instead of suppressing dissent, they need to listen to people’s demands and focus on the constitutional and democratic reform they promised last year.
“True democratic change will not happen until all imprisoned journalists, activists and prisoners of conscience are released.”
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