Algeria: Journalist Mohamed Tamalt Unjustly Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison for Insulting President

 Cairo: 14 July, 2016

 The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) denounced the ruling issued against journalist Mohamed Tamalt to jail him for two years and pay a fine of 200,000 dinar ($1,800), for allegedly “insulting the President” against the backdrop of articles published on his “Facebook” page and “Essiak El Aarabi” newspaper.

On July 11 night, in a trial lasted for over two hours, Sidi M’Hamed Court in Algiers- capital city of Algeria- faced Mohamed Tamlt with several articles published by his Online newspaper “Essiak El Aarabi” and social networking sites. The articles are deemed by the court to have offended the President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and his wife, along with Minster of Industry Aisha Tagabou, Deputy Defense Minister Ahmed Gaid Salah and the commander of the Fourth Military Brigade, Brigadier Kemal Abdul Razzaq- during the period from 21 to 23 June 2016.

The court ruled to imprison Tamlt, who has been held on remand in El Harrach prison in Algiers, for two years in addition to 200,000 dinars ($1,800) fine.

Noteworthy, journalist and poet Mohamed Tamlt was born in August 1975. He studied Journalism and Communication Science in the University of Algiers. He worked as a journalist in parallel with his study since summer 1993. After graduation, he started to write newspaper column and analytical articles alongside conducting interviews and press reports and writing books in “Al-Shaab”, “Al-Sabah” and “Al-Mostakbel” newspapers. He also has some contributions in “Al-Khabar”, “Al-Shorouk” and “Al-Waha” journals.

The Algerian journalist traveled to Britain to do his Master’s Thesis on media. Following his travel, dozens of his articles were published in “Al-Quds al-Arabi”, “Al-Sharq al-Awsat”, “Middile East Online”, “Al-Arab Times”, “Al-Ahram” and “Elaph” news portals. He also worked as a correspondent for “France 24” channel, and has many poems published in manifold newspapers and translated from French and English to Arabic.

The ruling handed down against Mohamed Tamlt is incompatible with the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Interpretation issued by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2011, as well as with Article 19 of the International Covenant, which protects the public debate about public figures in the political domain and public institutions, considering defamation cases as a civil case, not a criminal one which may not be penalized by imprisonment”, ANHRI said.

ANHRI called on the authorities in Algeria to drop the unjust sentence against journalist and poet Mohamed Tamlt, to amend the Algerian laws in accordance with the international conventions on human rights, and to halt the violations committed against freedom of opinion and expression alongside press and media freedom.

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