Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
- The constitution guarantees freedom of expression. However, the 1992 state of emergency remained in effect throughout 2008, allowing the government to legally penalize any speech deemed threatening to the state or public order. A 2001 amendment to the Press Law further restricts press freedom by criminalizing writings, cartoons, and speech that insults or offends the president, the parliament, the judiciary, or the armed forces.
- Defamation and other legal charges brought against journalists continue to serve as a hindrance to their ability to freely cover the news. Several sentences for defamation were handed down during the year.
- State agencies regularly engage in both direct and indirect censorship. In March, the French news weekly Jeune Afrique was banned by the government, and in October the government censored the French weekly L’Express. Self-censorship also remains widespread, largely out of fear of defamation accusations or other forms of government retaliation.
- Foreign journalists faced increasing difficulties in reporting during 2008. In June, both the Agence France-Presse (AFP) bureau chief and the Reuters correspondent in the country had their accreditation withdrawn for reporting on terrorist activities. As of November, the Reuters correspondent was still without credentials and thus unable to report for any foreign media.
- The vibrant print media are often critical of the authorities. There are currently more than 100 private daily and weekly newspapers, 29 of which print over 10,000 copies for each edition. Radio and television are entirely state owned. However, more than 60 percent of households have satellite dishes that provide alternate sources of information.
- In January the government placed six state-owned printing presses under the direct control of the communications ministry, threatening the editorial autonomy of half of Algeria’s privately owned newspapers. The state-owned advertising agency controls the placement of ads by state agencies and companies, which form the largest source of income for most papers.
- About 10.4 percent of the population accessed the internet during 2008. While access is generally unrestricted, the government does monitor e-mail and internet chat rooms, and internet service providers (ISPs) are legally liable for the content they host. Bloggers, like traditional journalists, face potential defamation suits, and several have been fined for posting “defamatory material.” However, there were no reported cases against bloggers or online journalists during 2008.