Algeria: Intimidation, threats, slander and repression of freedom of expression against engaged citizens and media

The renowned online media Algérie-Focus and its editor-in-chief have been subject to smear campaigns and received death threats spearheaded by Facebook pages affiliated with political groups in Algeria. This followed the publication of a story alleging that the son of a Government minister was living in a luxurious state-owned residence bought with taxpayers' money. 

The editor-in-chief of Algérie-Focus, Semmar Abdou, also a member of the League of African cyber-activists for democracy (Africtivistes), is moreover a victim of defamatory accusations with statements invading his privacy and threatening his physical integrity.

These statements criticised the editor-in-chief to be subservient to the clan of the Minister of Industry Abdesslam Bouchouareb. They also accused Algérie-Focus of "working" for a mobile operator. Nothing, especially these unfounded accusations, can justify an attack on the physical or moral integrity of a person in a country of law. 

These thinly veiled death threats that call for Semmar’s murder, and disseminated publicly, represent a dangerous trend and a serious violation of the Algerian law.

Blaming a media for its outspokenness and commitment to duty represents a serious attack on the freedom of journalists and media professional to speak freely and keep their fellow citizens informed.

We, Africtivistes, strongly condemn these arbitrary and abusive threats and intimidation. These multiple attacks against independent media and critical journalists, censorship and the repression of freedom of expression in Algeria are backwards steps for democracy and a lack of respect for international commitments on human rights. These pressures and threats will not, in any way, shake the commitment of independent media to inform citizens in the most objective and professional manner.

We, Africtivistes, express our support to our brother Abdou Semmar and his media Algeria-Focus. We reaffirm our solidarity with all independent media and journalists and all active forces of Africa, fighting against such forfeiture which represents a blow to gains registered by our democracies.

For ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1989 and the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples in 1987,  Algerian authorities are thus violating international law with impunity by not protecting citizens exercising their right to freedom of expression and fulfilling their duty of informing citizens.

To this end, we, the African League of Bloggers and Cyber-activists for Democracy, firmly condemn these threats, intimidation and defamation, and demand the protection of the physical and moral integrity of the editor-in-chief Abdou Semmar. We urge that same be extended to all those who are fighting for the same causes, especially the integrity of the Algérie-Focus media so they can enjoy their fundamental rights: freedom of expression and information.

 

We remain committed to the respect of rights of African citizens, particularly the rights to freedom of expression and information whose protection will greatly enhance democracy in Africa.