21 October 1998


State pressure forces publication stoppage of seven newspapers

Incident details


(RSF/IFEX) - According to a release dated 19 October 1998, RSF has sent a
letter to Algerian President Liamine Zéroual asking him to intervene and
allow seven newspapers to begin publishing anew after having earlier been
forced to cease publication due to economic pressures imposed by state

The newspapers in question, "La Tribune", "Al-Khabar", "Le Soir d'Algérie",
"Liberté", "Le Matin", "El Alam Essiyassi" and "El-Watan", have not appeared
on news stands since Saturday 17 October. Though editors had earlier signed
a debt repayment agreement with state printers which called for staggered
payments, the printers demanded immediate and full repayment of debts,
provoking the immediate insolvency of the newspapers and an immediate
suspension of activities.

This censorship under the guise of financial pressures has engendered
numerous reactions in Algeria, and has led to the creation of a solidarity
movement bringing together political parties and citizens concerned by this
attack on press freedom. Many Algerian newspapers have voluntarily suspended
publication as a protest against these measures. Suspended newspapers have
placed their headlines on their web sites.

Background Information

In December 1996, similar economic arguments had been used to close "La
Nation" newspaper. On 30 July of this year, RSF had asked for President
Zéroual's intervention to allow the weekly "El-Borhane" to republish, after
its publisher, "l'Imprimerie du Centre", had used administrative reasons as
a pretext for refusing to publish its fifth issue.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the President:

  • protesting the use of economic pressure for political motives
  • expressing the opinion that a situation where a newspaper's survival
    should depend on administrative formalities and the state economic monopoly
    is dangerous for press freedom
  • urging him to use his influence to assure that this matter is promptly
    dealt with and that the affected newspapers can begin publishing anew
  • calling for economic liberalisation of the press sector (the creation of
    private printing presses, the opening of the market on raw materials, etc.),
    without which freedom of expression cannot flourish

    Appeals To

    Mr. Liamine Zéroual
    President of the Algerian Democratic and Popular Republic
    Algiers, Algeria
    Fax: +213 260 9618

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Reporters Without Borders
    47, rue Vivienne
    75002 Paris
    rsf (@) rsf.org
    Phone: +33 1 44 83 84 84
    Fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51
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