Source: Morocco World News
Date: June 12, 2021
Upcoming changes in the Algerian penal code will allow its regime to charge journalists and critics as terrorists.
Rabat - Algeria is expanding its Terrorism Act to the extent that it will be able to prosecute its critics and journalists on terrorism charges. An update was published on June 10 that indicates that Algeria’s unpopular regime is broadening the definition of terrorism to include charges commonly levied against journalists, anti-establishment protesters, and even online critics.
Ahead of a weekend of legislative elections, the move appears to constitute another increase in repressive measures by Algeria's ruling elite in the face of domestic opposition and calls for structural reform.
The revisions to the penal code were initiated by the country’s embattled leadership and was discussed and adopted in one session of the country’s Council of Ministers on May 30. Officials in Algiers have indicated that the revised penal code intends to strengthen efforts to combat terrorism, by estbalishing a list of “terrorist people and organizations.”
How the upcoming terrorist “black list”would help combat terrorism, few could explain.
A closer examination of the changes made to the penal code reveals a broad expansion of what the state considers terrorism. While the broadening of the term is indeed likely to lead to increased arrests on terrorism charges, the penal code revisions have no provisions that would actually arrest more extremists.
Instead, the new penal code now considers "any act aimed at the security of the state, national unity and the stability and normal functioning of institutions,” as a terrorist act.
This expansion is likely to concern journalist, Hirak protesters and government critics, as the terms defined as “terrorism” are the exact charges commonly used to arrest whomever the regime considers to be a critic.
The new penal code furthermore acts as an active deterrent to political change in Algeria. Algiers will now consider any action “to work or incite, by any means whatsoever, to gain power or to change the system of governance by non-constitutional means" as an act of terrorism.
The vast broadening of Algeria’s penal code is likely to result in its new “black list” being leveraged as a tool to scare critics and reporters into silence, in fear of being listed as a terrorist. Furthermore it will allow the regular prosecution of the country’s journalists to now be done under the guise of “combatting terrorism.”
Several of the charges described as terrorist acts have before been used to silence and imprison government critics, from established journalists such as Khaled Drareni (who was arrested again this week) to every-day citizens voicing their frustrations on social media.
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