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Algeria: new media law passes first hearing

March 29, 2023 at 10:57 am

Algerian flags flutter in front of the People’s National Assembly (parliament) building in the capital Algiers [RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty Images]

The Algerian parliament has approved the first hearing of a draft media bill which includes procedures related to the establishment of media institutions, and the prohibition of any foreign funding for local media. The approval was made during a session of the National People’s Assembly, the first chamber of the parliament in Algeria, controlled by parties within the ruling presidential coalition.

Although no precise voting details were provided in the official statement, a majority of the 462 MPs passed the bill. However, the Movement of Society for Peace, the largest Islamic parliamentary bloc in Algeria, announced its opposition to the draft. Its 65 MPs duly voted against it.

The movement said that its opposition was based on the fact that there was an element of “control and unilateralism in the preparation of the draft bill, without expanding consultation and involving journalists and academics.” It expressed regret over the House of Representatives’ rejection of “most of the amendments and proposals submitted by the movement’s parliamentarians, including the right of Algerians living abroad to establish media projects in the country.”

According to Communications Minister Mohamed Bouslimani, the new law will “ensure free and responsible media practice, in light of respecting the constitution and the laws of the republic and promoting professionalism in the field of media.”

Bouslimani added in a speech after the vote that the new law “corrects the imbalances and shortcomings in previous laws.” He noted that everyone’s goal is to build a “strong, responsible, and credible” media.

This was the first reading of the draft bill, which now needs to be discussed and voted on in the National Assembly, the second parliamentary chamber. If it passes that stage, it will be approved by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune and then become law as it is published in the Official Gazette.

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