Defamation Laws In Algeria
Like many countries today, Alergia is in the midst of a nation-wide political battle for defamation reform. Currently, Algerian defamation law provisions include substantial monetary fines plus imprisonment.
Very Media Unfriendly
Articles 144 b, 144 b.1, and 146 punish anyone who offends the President, the Parliament, the military, or any other public institution with imprisonment of one to three years and/or 100,000 to 1 million dinars [US$1400 to 14,000]. The same sanctions apply to the managers and editors of the publication in which the offense appeared, as well as to the publication itself. These sanctions double with recidivism.
Algerian Defamation Laws Favor Public Officials Over Private Individuals
Article 298 punishes defamation towards private individuals with a fine of 5,000 to 50,000 dinars and/or five days to six months in prison. Defamation with the intent to incite intolerance toward members of racial or religious groups is punishable by imprisonment of one month to one year and/or a fine of 10,000 to 100,000 dinars.
Under the defamation provisions, it is a greater crime to offend the State or its representatives than it is to offend a private individual. This contradicts the internationally recognized principle that both politicians and the government should not be accorded special status above the citizens they serve, nor should they be immune from public criticism.
Defamation Law Reform In Algeria
On December 14, 2011, Algerian lawmakers approved a new media law critics say will impede freedom of expression. Advocates of the current Algerian libel statutes say the law restricts journalists from undermining Algeria’s sovereignty, national identity, economy and security, and thus the justification in their minds for fines up to USD $3,900 and jail time. Opponents to the current statues, however, are urging the government to make the media laws more protective of increasingly internationally accepted freedom of expression standards.