January 2, 2003 - Updated on January 20, 2016

First conviction of a cartoonist under amended criminal code

Reporters Without Borders expressed its concern today at the fining of journalist Ali Dilem for drawing a cartoon in the daily newspaper Liberté about the 1992 murder of a president. It said the 10,000 dinars (240 euros) fine by an Algiers court on 31 December clearly showed the government's intention of intimidating journalists who were cheeky and was a threat to the greater boldness being shown by much of the Algerian media. Dilem was sued by the defence ministry for his 16 January 2002 cartoon about the assassination of President Mohamed Boudiaf and is conviction his a first under a May 2001 amendment of the criminal code, which has been nicknamed the "Dilem Amendment." The ministry is also suing him for two other cartoons - one about a fund-raising Téléthon on state television (which appeared on 29 November 2001) and one about armed forces chief Gen. Mohamed Lamari (15 January 2002). "The fine is a serious blow to freedom of expression and its most sensitive form, which is the cartoon," Dilem's lawyer, Khaled Bourayou, told Reporters Without Borders. "The judge should've been more lenient." An appeal has been lodged. The new article 144b of the criminal code provides for jail sentences of between two months and a year, as well as heavy fines, for any "affront to the president by abuse, insults or defamation." The penalties also apply if parliament or the army is considered to be the target.