Authorities arrest journalist and ban publication of newspaper – Middle East Monitor

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Echorouk Journalist Belkacem Haouam has been remanded in custody for an article he wrote about stopping the export of Algerian dates containing harmful pesticides. The Department of Commerce later denied the request.

The decision to arrest Haouam came after the Ministry of Commerce filed a complaint against the newspaper and the journalist, alleging he had caused harm to the national economy.

As a result, the journalist was summoned to court to appear before the public prosecutor and then the investigating judge, who ordered his temporary detention after having been formally charged. Meanwhile, Echorouk was prevented from being printed, causing it not to be published last Thursday.

In the article in question, the journalist referred to a decision taken by the Minister of Commerce to immediately stop the export of Algerian Deglet Nour dates after their withdrawal from several European markets because they contain high levels of chemicals not authorized in Europe. .

Haouam said that this decision was taken to preserve the reputation of Algerian dates and to address the problems related to their export. He also mentioned the significant losses suffered by producers due to the withdrawal of Deglet Nour from the shelves of countries that used to import Algerian dates.

READ: Algerian journalist sentenced to 6 months in prison

Published on September 7, the article angered the Ministry of Trade and Export Promotion, which issued a statement refuting the information. The ministry said in its press release: “Everything mentioned in this article is based on baseless and unjustified information that harms the national economy and the wealth of our country. The quality of Algerian dates is privileged to all international levels”.

The ministry continued, “This unprofessional behavior is based on the perpetrator’s failure to investigate facts and reliable information provided by management. The ministry’s efforts are largely focused on promoting and encouragement of non-oil exports.”

She stressed that she: “has decided to take all necessary measures against the author of the article and the newspaper concerned, including legal proceedings before the competent authorities”.

However, the decision to imprison Haouam provoked strong reactions among journalists who sympathized with their colleague and considered that his imprisonment is contrary to the Constitution, which stipulates the protection of journalists against custodial sentences in connection with the journalistic work.

Echorouk The newspaper also published a statement on Haouam’s arrest.

Journalist Rachid Ould Bousiafa shared: “Colleague Belkacem Haouam represents exceptional professional and moral value and is a true example of a journalist committed to the causes of his nation and his country. His imprisonment is a mistake because his journey is clean and rich in experiences. defended the vulnerable, the oppressed and the poor, and he was an honest voice. »

In the same context, lawyer and human rights defender Abdel Rahman Saleh confirmed: “Detaining a journalist after indicting him for his journalistic work is a violation of the Constitution and the law.

The media professor at the University of Algiers, Radwan Boudjemaa, wrote: “The absence of a newspaper from newsstands without anyone noticing is sufficient evidence of the death of the journalistic profession in this country. The separation between society and the press is clear. due to lack of credibility.”

An image of the article was shared widely on social media platforms.

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