Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Around 25 people arrested over unemployment protests

On Sunday 9th October, Algerian police arrested around 25 people as they prepared to protest against unemployment outside the presidential compound. A spokesman for unemployment rights group CNDCC, Samir Larabi, said he was arrested together with another man and taken to a police station in El Mouradia.

Larabi added that he was later released but around 25 of his colleagues were retained in custody. The group were going to protest about lack of employment opportunities, call for greater unemployment benefits and the democratic right to hold peaceful demonstrations.

On Wednesday 5th October, Algerian police briefly detained 17 people as they prepared to hold a rally commemorating the pro-democracy protests of 1988.

According to World Bank statistics, Algeria, whose population consists of some 35 million people, has an unemployment rate of 11 per cent. Over the last couple of months, Algerians have been more vocal about social concerns, lack of democratic freedoms and the cost of basic necessities.

In a bid to appease the nation, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika promised to review and revise legislation in order to allow for a more democratic media. The bill endorsed by the Algerian Ministers Council has been criticised, however, by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). The group has said that it goes some way towards abolishing the imprisonment penalty for journalists, but the wording of the bill itself, along with the severe fines which replace jail time, still restricts freedoms.

It also covers the establishment of independent news satellite channels and/or radio stations, which are presently forbidden. Many have hoped that this would prove a step in the right direction. But the bill stipulates several restrictions in regards to the formation of any independent news source. Additionally, private newspapers are also expected to now be granted permission by the Authority Control for Publications.

Chairman of the Algerian Human Rights League (LADDH) BoudjemaĆ¢ Ghachir warned people not to be fooled by the bill. He said: “Once you get under the rather attractive wrapping, the present itself is poison.”

Sources: AFP, Reuters, AllAfrica

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

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