Violence against reporters covering Algiers protest must be investigated, RSF says
On the eve of another of the weekly anti-government protests in Algiers, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Algerian authorities to investigate the violence against ten journalists at last week’s protest, so that those responsible can be identified and prosecuted.
The authorities have not initiated any investigation although five days have gone by since the attacks against reporters covering the latest of the so-called “Hirak” protests in central Algiers on 12 March.
The violence began at around 3:30 p.m., when demonstrators attacked a cameraman working for France 24 Abdelkader Kamli, accusing him of biased reporting. Lynda Abbou, a reporter for Maghreb Emergent and Radio M, provided the following account in a Facebook post. "At first, a journalist from France 24 was attacked and insulted by a group of people,” Abbou wrote. “Present at the scene, journalists from Tariq News and Radio M tried to protect him. They managed to bring him to safety, before being attacked in turn by the assailants. The latter assaulted another journalist from Radio M and two journalists from Tariq News including Mohamed Lamine Meghnine.” Meghnine, who is the Tariq News website’s editor, was badly beaten. Abbou was herself subjected to violence, as were Radio M’s Kenzaa Khatto and Anis Chelouche, El Khabar’s Mustapha Bastami and freelance reporters Sid Walines and Samir Sid.
“This type of abuse must on no account remain unpunished,” said Souhaieb Khayati, the head of RSF’s North Africa desk. “The Algerian authorities must carry out a serious and thorough investigation in order to identify and punish those responsible for these attacks. It is as incomprehensible as it is unacceptable that demonstrators used violence against journalists who, despite the risk of arrest, have constantly covered a protest movement for more than a year. On the eve for more protests, we point out that journalists’ safety is everyone's concern and should be a priority for both the authorities and civil society.”
Algeria is ranked 146th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.