- The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on newly elected Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to reverse the upsurge of human rights violations, especially on journalists and human rights lawyers in the country.
According to a letter signed by Joel Simon, Executive Director of the committee, addressed to President Bouteflika, it raised concerns on journalists and human rights lawyers' recent reports to CPJ that the blockade on independent journalism has intensified with government increasingly using harsh measures to silence and punish critical journalists.
In a letter the organisation has also pointed out grave human rights violations traced as far back as in the 1990’s including the murder of more than a dozen of journalists and the disappearances of at least two.
“This decree has prompted greater self-censorship in the Algerian media, has served as a new prescription for the harassment and imprisonment of critical journalists, and has widened the gap between Algerian policies and international standards for free expression,” the letter stated.
The letter also criticised the recent electoral campaign, in which the dominant political party offered no opportunity for critical debates and with state owned media giving less attention to five other presidential candidates in the run up to elections.
It also noted the absence of state media attention to those who opposed the November 2008 constitutional amendment that scrapped presidential term limits, and those who called for a boycott of the election.
The committee has also condemned Algerian authorities' decision to bar Sihem Bensedrine, a Tunisian journalist and human rights defender, from entering Algeria during the elections. Mr Bensedrine was in Algeria to take part in monitoring local media coverage of the presidential election under the umbrella of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights.
The letter has also brought to the attention of the president, a number of publications that were confiscated prior to elections for allegedly breaching the Algerian Information Act.
The CPJ called on the president to revoke the February 2006 decree that bans journalists from writing about events that unfolded during Algeria's civil war and to renounce the restrictions placed against the independent press, and to halt the imprisonment and harassment of Algerian journalists.
Mr Bouteflika who has been elected on 9 April was first elected in 1999 then again in 2004. He was supposed to have stood down at the election, but proposed an amendment to the constitution that abolished the term limits in November.
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