Khaled Drareni sentenced to two years in prison on charges related to his work as a journalist

Khaled Drareni sentenced to two years in prison on charges related to his work as a journalist

Since February 2019, Khaled Drareni has been covering pro-democracy demonstrations in Algiers. He was arrested on March 7, 2020, before being charged three days later with “undermining the integrity of the national territory” and “unarmed assembly”. He was sentenced to three years in prison on August 10, 2020 by the court of Sidi M'hamed. Even though his sentence was reduced, on appeal, to two years in prison, this judgment was a clear setback for freedom of the press in Algeria.
Latest Updates
November 26, 2020: the European Parliament adopts an urgency resolution highlighting “the deteriorating human rights situation in Algeria, in particular the case of journalist Khaled Drareni”.
September 16, 2020: MENA Rights Group requests the intervention of the Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs of the UNESCO; three special procedures mandate holders and members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) call for the release of Khaled Drareni in a public statement.
September 15, 2020: The court of Algiers condemns Khaled Drareni to two years in prison.
August 10, 2020: The court of Sidi M'hamed sentences Khaled Drareni to three years in prison.
March 10, 2020: Khaled Drareni is charged with “undermining the integrity of the national territory” and “unarmed assembly”.
March 7-10, 2020: Khaled Drareni is interrogated during a three-day period in police custody.
March 7, 2020: Khaled Drareni is arrested as he is filming the police forcibly disperse a demonstration on the Didouche Mourad Avenue in the centre of Algiers.

Khaled Drareni is an Algerian journalist. He is the founder of the news website Casbah Tribune, correspondent for the French television channel TV5Monde, and a representative of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Algeria. In the context of his professional activities, he has notably covered the pro-democracy demonstrations that have been taking place regularly in Algeria since February 2019. Before his arrest, he was filming the rallies in Algiers and publishing his images on his Twitter account.

He was first arrested on January 9, 2020 by members of the Algerian army who took him to a barrack. There, members of the military judicial police subjected him to several hours of interrogation, asking him questions about statements he had made in the press and on social networks criticising the authorities.

On March 7, 2020, Drareni was arrested as he was filming the police forcibly disperse a demonstration on Didouche Mourad Avenue in central Algiers. He was then placed in police custody for three days. The police first took him to the Rouiba police station, 20 kilometers from Algiers, and then brought him back at night to the Cavaignac police station in the centre of Algiers. During this period, he was mainly questioned about his involvement in the protest movement. The police also asked him for the password of his cell phone. His police custody was extended on March 9, 2020 by the prosecutor of the Court of First Instance of Sidi M'hamed in Algiers.

On March 10, 2020, he was brought before the prosecutor at the Sidi M'hamed court and charged with “undermining the integrity of the national territory” and “unarmed assembly” on the basis of articles 96 and 100 of the Penal Code. These charges are regularly used by authorities to prosecute participants in pro-democracy demonstrations.

He was placed under judicial supervision the same day. His passport and cell phone were confiscated. On March 25, 2020, the indictment division of the Sidi M'hamed court overturned the decision to release him provisionally and ordered that he be placed under a committal order. Two days later, on March 27, 2020, Drareni was arrested at his home and taken to a police station in Algiers. He was then detained in Kolea prison, where he awaited his trial.

On August 10, 2020, the court of Sidi M'hamed sentenced Drareni to three years of imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars. His appeal trial opened on September 8, 2020, and on September 15, the Algiers court sentenced Drareni to two years in prison. He was tried along with Samir Benlarbi and Slimane Hamitouche, two prominent activists in the Hirak protest movement, who were sentenced to four months in prison.

On September 16, 2020, MENA Rights Group requested the intervention of the Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs of the UNESCO. On the same day, three special procedures mandate holders and five members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) called for the release of Drareni in a public statement. They criticised, among other things, legal and judicial measures aimed at restricting press freedom in Algeria, such as the latest amendment to the Penal Code, which criminalises the dissemination of “fake news” and the financing of any association that could “harm the state or the fundamental interests of Algeria”.

On November 26, 2020, the European Parliament adopted an urgency resolution highlighting “the deteriorating human rights situation in Algeria, in particular the case of journalist Khaled Drareni”.