August 19, 2016

Algeria: RSF asks authorities to protect journalists from cyber-violence

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns a smear campaign and death threats on social networks against the news website Algérie-Focus and its editor, Abdou Semmar, and calls on the Algerian authorities to protect them.

The attacks began after the site revealed on 15 August that an official villa had been assigned to the son of the minister for habitat, urbanism and the city. The smear campaign was launched on a popular Facebook page, which went so far as to attack Semmar’s private life, while members of the public posted explicit death threats.

The phenomenon of cyber-violence is increasingly widespread and is a source of real concern,” said Yasmine Kacha, the head of RSF’s North Africa desk.

Anonymity and the use of pseudonyms makes it hard to identify those responsible for these smear campaigns but the threats must be taken serious, especially when they are repeated, as is the case with Algérie Focus. The authorities must face up to their duty to protect Abdou Semmar and all other journalists who are subjected to this kind of pressure.”

This is not the first time that people have tried to attack me by talking about my private life,” Semmar said. “But these intimidation attempts are assuming alarming proportions and I am beginning to be really afraid, not for myself but above all for my two children and my family.

Semmar added that Algérie-Focus is the target of harassment whenever it broaches such sensitive subjects as homosexuality, Islamic State links in Algeria and the status of Shiites in Algeria.

Algeria is ranked 129th out of 180 countries inRSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.