Algeria Pressures Reporters By Delaying Renewal of Accreditation

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Algerian government’s use of delays in renewing press accreditation to put pressure on reporters employed by foreign media, many of whom have been waiting for months for their 2021 accreditation. The accreditation renewal process should be more transparent, RSF says.

Many journalists working for international media still don’t know whether they will be able to cover the parliamentary elections due to be held on 12 June. The accreditations that allow foreign reporters to work legally in Algeria expired on 31 December, as they do every year, but so far none of them have been renewed this year.

The authorities have usually been late in the renewing them in the past but there has always been a tacit understanding that reporters can continue working pending receipt of their new accreditation. This tacit understanding no longer seems to be in effect.

“We usually wait in a state of complete uncertainty until April or May, or sometimes even August to receive accreditation for the current year,” a reporter for a foreign media outlet told RSF. “Meanwhile we have continued to cover various events including the Hirak [anti-government protests]. Or at least I did until 16 April this year, when plainclothes police arrested me and told me I longer had the right to video reporting.”

Even media that have had their accreditation extended provisionally are feeling the pressure. “The communication ministry gave me a document extending my accreditation until I get the 2021 accreditation,” said an Algiers-based reporter for a foreign TV broadcaster. “But even if I’ve not been told anything in particular about covering the Hirak, we’re no longer covering the protests as we used to.” Journalists know that this extension can be rescinded at any moment without any official reason being given by the communication ministry.