Algeria: Harassment of Reporters Intensifies in Run-Up to Parliamentary Elections

With less than four weeks to go to parliamentary elections in Algeria, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is extremely concerned about the systematic and violent methods now being used by the authorities to prevent journalists from covering the regular “Hirak” anti-government protests, held above all on Fridays.

Many reporters were subjected to physical violence by police trying to keep them at a distance from the latest demonstrations on 14 May, whose participants are calling for more freedom and oppose holding parliamentary elections on 12 June. And many journalists were also arrested without any grounds.

Around 15 reporters were arrested while covering the protest in Algiers. They included three – RadioM’s Lynda Abbou, freelance photographer Sid Ahmed Belouchrani (aka Sid Walinés) and the Casbah Tribune’s Khaled Drareni – who were briefly detained several times in the course of the day before finally being arrested and held for eight hours without any explanation.

Several reporters and photographers, including Agence France-Presse photographer Riad Kramdi, Radio M’s Wided Laouedj, the Casbah Tribune’s Anis Chelouche and Farida Tayeb Cherrad of TariqNews, were also held for several hours after being arrested to prevent them covering the use of violence to disperse the protesters.

Beaten by riot police

Djaafer Kheloufi, a reporter for the Twala news website, was beaten by riot police for trying to intervene when five policemen used force to arrest Kenza Khattou, a young woman who hosts the politics programmes on Radio M. Khattou was still in police custody yesterday had not been taken before a prosecutor. She bore the marks of blows on her body and her glasses were broken. When she refused to sign a statement (which she could not read without her glasses), she was forced to put her fingerprints on it.