Rabat- Amnesty International issued a media briefing on Monday accusing the Algerian authorities of silencing critics and curbing freedom of expression as the country prepares for the presidential election.
Two days ahead of the Algerian presidential election that will take place on April 17th, NGO Amnesty International called on Algeria to “stop avoiding scrutiny of their human rights record” in the run-up to its fourth presidential election.
The 77-year-old President Abdelaziz Boutaflika, who has spent over 15 years in power, seems to be the front-runner, despite his health problems which prevented him from chairing his campaign and the opposing voices that took to the streets as he announced his bid for his 4th term in power.
Algerian authorities “regularly ban and forcibly disperse peaceful protests and have imposed severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly,” said Amnesty.
AI said that Algerian civil society groups, human rights activists and journalists critical of the government “continue to face threats and harassment from the authorities”.
Highlighting the journalists who were subject to harassment by the authorities for opposing Bouteflika’s bid for the fourth term, Amnesty cited the case of Aziza Mahmoudi, the wife of a journalist who was covering the Barakat movement demonstration in Algiers, who was assaulted at her home on March 27th.
“Three plain-clothed individuals, believed to be members of the security forces, threatened her at gunpoint and said her husband must stop criticizing the authorities on Facebook, before scalding her with hot water, causing second-degree burns,” declared Amnesty.
Private TV stations which criticized the authorities in their reporting have also been harassed, such as Al-Atlas TV, which was raided by the authorities last month after it had extensively covered protests and featured critics of the government.
Algerian legislation currently “only allows for state-controlled national television channels, with authorities tolerating private channels and granting them temporary licenses that can be revoked at any time, without legal guarantees,” said the Amnesty briefing.
Edited by Jessica Rohan