Freedom of the Press

Algeria

Algeria

Freedom of the Press 2002

2002 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

62

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

26

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

15

Algeria has a vibrant private press and newspapers offer competing views. Reports critical of the government, including exposures of corruption, appear often in the independent newspapers. However, press freedom remains constrained by government pressure, legal constraints, and the Islamist insurgency, which has targeted journalists in the past. The state of emergency restricts press freedom and punishes undefined threats to the state or to public order. A 1990 law requires speech to respect "individual dignity, the imperatives of foreign policy, and the national defense." Penal code reforms enacted in May 2001 provide for prison terms of two to twelve months and fines of $700 to $3,500 for defamation of the president, parliament, courts, the military, and other public officials, as well as Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. The new law also allows the public prosecutor to begin proceedings against an individual for defamation without the prior filing of a complaint. Despite a 1999 law allowing private television and radio stations, the government has a monopoly on both. Two journalists with La Voix de l'Oranie were sentenced to six months' imprisonment in April for libel, and in November authorities suspended the Arabic-language weekly El Mawiid. In May, police assaulted a journalist covering the riots in Tizi Ouzou, and two journalists covering violent demonstrations in Algiers were killed in June. Foreign journalists are rarely granted visas to work in Algeria, and few foreign publications have permission to appear on Algerian newsstands, although 60 percent of the population does have access to European satellite TV stations. To overcome the government's monopoly on printing presses, two independent dailies, El Watan and El Khabar, joined together to purchase their own printing press and also opened a private printing house.