MEDIA FREEDOM ON PROBATION, SAYS RSF REPORT
"Most cases of murdered journalists (57 between 1993 and 1996) and five cases of "missing" journalists remain unpunished," reports RSF. "While virtually all those who died were killed by armed Islamist groups, in some cases the identity of the murderers is questionable. Witness accounts in the case of three 'missing' journalists implicate the security police." RSF adds that "the state has a stranglehold over public radio and television," while "in the press the authorities remain omnipresent as regards both printing and the supply of newsprint." No journalists have been jailed since the April 1999 election of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, but Algeria's press law violates the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion. According to RSF, "Heavy prison sentences are provided for in the case of press offences, and journalists are prosecuted far more often than the authorities care to admit. Access to official information remains difficult."
Among numerous recommendations, RSF calls on the authorities to open serious investigations into the assassinations and "disappearances" of journalists so that "impunity is not the rule." The report is based on the visit of an RSF delegation from 24 to 30 June. It had been five years since RSF last visited Algeria, due to the inability to obtain visas. The full report is available at http://www.rsf.fr.">http://www.rsf.fr">http://www.rsf.fr.