Prosecuted under the law that punishes « hate speech », the southern Algerian correspondent of the newspaper Liberté, Rabah Karèche, has been kept in pre-trial detention by the Algerian justice system. Some lawyers accuse President Abdelmadjid Tebboune of having steered the justice system by describing the journalist as an « arsonist ».
The trial of Rabah Karèche is taking a different turn. The indictment division of the court in Tamanrasset, south of Algiers, decided yesterday to toughen up the journalist’s situation. Placed in pre-trial detention since 19 April, Rabah Karèche remains in prison following an appeal procedure introduced by the prosecutor.
He is being prosecuted for « undermining the integrity of the national territory », « deliberate publication of false information likely to undermine public order » and « deliberate dissemination of false information likely to undermine public order and use of various means to undermine national security and unity ». The prosecution is based on the provisions of the criminal code and the law on the prevention and fight against discrimination and hate speech.
The journalist Rabah Karèche, who focuses on socio-economic problems in the regions of Algeria’s deep south, particularly those related to gold trafficking and smuggling, was summoned by the police in 2020 to explain a series of articles on common law cases involving members of the security forces. But the article he was prosecuted for was related to another case.
On Saturday 17 April, Rabah Karèche covered a rally of citizens from the Tamanrasset region who had come to protest against the new administrative division. Published the next day, the article entitled « L’Ahaggar, la bataille des territoires » (The Ahaggar, the battle of the territories) provoked the anger of the authorities. Rabah was summoned by the police and placed in preventive detention. He was accused of having disseminated this article on social networks.
For his lawyers, who did not fail to recall the exceptional nature of the use of pre-trial detention in Algerian law, this is a desire to circumvent the press offence and slide towards accusations of hate speech. Zoubida Assoul, one of the journalist’s lawyers, believes that her client’s case is a violation of Article 50 of the Algerian Constitution, which stipulates that « the offence of the press cannot be punished by a custodial sentence ».
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)