Freedom of the Press

Algeria

Algeria

Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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

62

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

24

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

17

Algeria has a vibrant private press. Newspapers offer competing views, and reports critical of the government frequently appear in independent publications. However, press freedom remains constrained by government pressure and legal restrictions that lead some journalists to practice self-censorship. The penal code gives the government authority to impose high fines and jail sentences of up to two years in cases in which journalists "defame, insult, or injure" government officials or institutions. Under restrictive new laws, passed in 2001, that increased the monetary penalties for defamation, several independent journalists faced legal action and were sentenced to steep fines as well as prison terms during the year. Journalists often are the victims of intimidation, harassment and physical violence for criticizing public officials or other groups. Nevertheless, the situation has improved considerably since the 1990s, when reporters were the targets of Islamic insurgents. However, in 2002 a veteran journalist with a French-language television station was brutally killed. Radio and television are under government control, with coverage biased in favor of government policies. Tariffs on the importation of foreign publications were recently raised, so that total charges now amount to more than 25 percent of the cover price. Most independent newspapers rely on the state for printing and paper imports, and the government occasionally withholds advertising from newspapers on political grounds.