EXTERNAL AI Index: MDE 28/02/96
UA 167/96 Prisoner of conscience 4 July 1996
ALGERIA Chawki LAAMARI, journalist
Chawki Laamari, a journalist with the daily newspaper La Tribune was arrested
on 4 July 1996 for a drawing of the Algerian flag published in La Tribune.
He was charged under Article 160 bis of the Algerian Penal Code, which provides
for five to 10 years' imprisonment for anyone convicted of "publicly and
deliberately destroying, mutilating or profaning the national emblem". He
is now detained in Serkadji Prison in Algiers.
The director and editor of the newspaper were also interrogated by the judge
and placed under judicial control; they have to report to the authorities twice
a week. The newspaper has been suspended indefinitely.
Amnesty International considers Chawki Laamari to be a prisoner of conscience
and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
In the past four years increasing restrictions have been imposed on the media
in Algeria, resulting in the arrest and detention of journalists and repeated
suspensions of newspapers; most of those detained have been accused of breaching
the increasingly restrictive rules imposed on security information. In most
cases the journalists detained were promptly released and given fines or
suspended prison terms. However, one journalist accused of publishing
unauthorized information considered to be security-related was sentenced to
three years imprisonment in 1995 and is currently in prison.
In the past three years journalists have also been increasingly targeted by
armed opposition groups who define themselves as "Islamic groups"; since May
1993 more than 50 journalists have been killed in attacks believed to have
been carried out by such groups. As well as living in constant fear of attack
by these armed groups, Algerian journalists are now more and more concerned
about the increasing restrictions and censorship imposed on their work by the
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in French/Arabic/English or in your own language:
- expressing concern at the arrest and detention of journalist Chawki Laamari,
and calling for his immediate and unconditional release as a prisoner of
- urging the authorities to release any other journalists imprisoned for the
peaceful expression of their views in their writings or drawings.
M. Liamine ZEROUAL
Président de la République
Présidence de la République
Faxes: +213 2 60 96 18
Telegrams: President Zeroual, Alger, Algerie
Salutation: Excellence / Your Excellency