The Algerian Government ban Sirry Lelghaya is a step backwards to Freedom of Expression

The Algerian Government ban Sirry Lelghaya is a step backwards to Freedom of Expression

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, ANHRI, expressed its resentment to the decision of the prosecutor of Sidi Mohamed Court in Algeria. The prosecutor banned Sirry Lelghaya (Highly Classified), a supplement of the newspaper Al Monaqsa since 3/11/2009, claiming it was unlicensed. However, the newspaper is licensed publishing three other regularly.

Actually, the newspaper’s staff stated that decision was due to the cases of corruption that the newspaper has covered. Most importantly was an article about the mayors abusing their authorities and misusing public funds. The decision issued in accordance to the Information Act of 4/4/1990 and the Penal Code. These legislations grant the judiciary the power to ban and fine newspapers and prosecute its workers and journalists.

The decision of banning was in reaction to the article: “Mayors… from Students to Experts in Misusing Public Money”, published in the latest issue of Sirry Lelghaya. The article reported, with sufficient evidence, on corruption in the municipality of central Algeria and embezzlement of public funds. The editor in chief of the newspaper received a direct threat from the mayor of the municipality of central Algeria.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) declares the current situation of the Algerian press as “catastrophic”. Now, a mayor has the authority to close down the supplement of newspapers, though its report is based on sufficient evidence. This occurs within the framework of the government public policy of silencing the masses.

ANHRI stated that that the banning comes at a time where the Algerian media needs more openness. Gamal Eid, ANHRI’s executive director, considered that the decision of banning the newspaper (which is published fortnightly and has released 19 issues) “raises a question about the independence of the institutions and bodies responsible for regulating media. He added that this decision reflects these institutions subordination to the state.”

Eid stressed that, “The banning is a step backwards taken by the Algerian government to threaten the freedom of the press and freedom of expression”. He called on the government to reconsider the banning and open an investigation in what was reported in the newspaper which accused officials of misusing of public funds.”