After 114 days in provisional detention, Karèche was sentenced today to 12 months in prison (four of them suspended) and a fine of 20,000 dinars (126 euros) on a charge of publishing false information endangering national unity and state security.
Karèche was convicted over three articles in April 2021 about protests by members of the Ahaggar region’s Tuareg population against new provincial border changes transferring traditionally Tuareg land containing rich mineral and gas deposits to the adjoining wilayas (provinces) of Djanet and Illizi.
“This sentence is completely unjustified because Rabah Karèche was just doing his job as a journalist to report the news,” said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF’s North Africa desk. “His place is in a newsroom, not in prison. The Algerian authorities should respect the constitutionally guaranteed freedom to inform and the country’s press law.”
The constitution, for which 66% of Algerians voted in November 2020, guarantees freedom of the press, while the press law, under which newspaper articles should be tried, does not provide for prison sentences. The Algerian authorities are nonetheless currently using the penal code adopted in April 2020, which criminalises false information “endangering public order and state security,” to gag the media.
Karèche has ten days to file an appeal against today’s verdict and sentence.
Algeria is ranked 146th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.