Friday, January 27, 2012

Algeria's New Media Takes Effect--Less Repressive, But Journos Still Nervous

List of heads of state of AlgeriaImage via WikipediaAlgeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's long-awaited reformed media law in the Northwest African nation took effect January 12, but a press release issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists ("CPJ") says the new measure amounts to only baby steps toward press freedom.

A majority in both houses of Algeria's legislature passed the measure, which supplants a repressive 1990 law, though the opposition Al-Nahda party walked out of parliament in protest that the new law does not go far enough.  The CPJ press release counts at least 32 provisions among the Act's 133 articles that may still restrict press coverage in the republic.

Whereas the draconian 1990 media law subjected journalists who insulted or defamed the government to 10 years in prison, the newly enacted law can shutdown publications and fine journalists a maximum 500,000 dinars ($6,706) for defamation and a slew of infractions, such as publishing information concerning preliminary criminal probes or insulting foreign leaders and dipolomats.

Media ownership restrictions are a part of the new law, as a minimum 10 years' media experience in periodical publications is required for someone to qualify as a director of  a periodical publication. CPJ also expressed concern about the legislation's vague definition of terms such as media (any broadcast, opinion letter or idea expressed by any written, audiovisual or electronic means). Algerian journalists surveyed by CPJdescribed the new law as merely offering "cosmetic changes."
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment