A new law in Algeria to muzzle the media: A draft law on information in Algeria strengthening the supervision of the work of journalists and introducing new penalties for violations was examined Monday by the upper house of parliament for adoption.
A new law in Algeria to muzzle the media
Already approved by the lower house of Parliament on March 28, this draft organic law, which includes 55 articles, should be submitted Thursday to the vote of the Council of the Nation, which acts as the Senate.
Among the main provisions of the text is a ban on Algerian media from receiving any “funding” or “direct and indirect material assistance from any foreign party” under penalty of “criminal sanctions provided by law. A fine of up to 14,000 euros is also provided.
While the text stipulates that “professional secrecy is a right for journalists in accordance with the legislation and regulations in force”, it specifies that journalists are obliged to reveal their sources to the courts if they so require.
In addition, the new law excludes de facto binationals from the right to own or be shareholders in a media in Algeria.
This article has been debated among senators, some highlighting the paradox between the fact that dual nationals are courted for elections or investment in Algeria but prevented from accessing the capital of the media.
Several senators have also deplored the lack of enforcement texts to accompany this bill.
The devil is in the details
The president of the Senate, Salah Goudjil, has himself noted, in French, that “the devil is in the details”, referring to the absence of implementing legislation.
The bill reiterates the existing obligation for journalists to obtain an “accreditation” to work in Algeria for foreign media, with a fine of up to one million dinars (nearly 7,000 euros) for “any person carrying out the activity in Algeria on behalf of a foreign media without accreditation.
Once approved, the bill will be the first text regulating the work of the media to be adopted under the reign of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune since he came to power in late 2019.
On April 2, Algerian newspaper owner Ihsane El Kadi, who was prosecuted for “foreign financing” of his company, was sentenced to five years in prison, three of which were firm.