May 23 – 30, 2020 | Press Review

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

May 23, 2020: Access to the beaches is temporarily banned

The wilaya of Tipasa has decided to prohibit access to beaches to citizens until the health situation induced by the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control, it was learned, Thursday, from the wilaya services. According to a decision issued by the wali, Hadj Omar Moussa, at the end of a meeting he chaired on the monitoring of the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, “the beaches will be closed following the observation of an important influx of citizens in recent days, due to the registration of a heat wave,” the same services said.

For more information (in French), please visit the following link.

May 25, 2020: WHO “temporarily” suspends clinical trials with hydroxychloroquine for safety reasons

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that it has “temporarily” suspended the clinical trials with hydroxychloroquine it is conducting with partners in several countries as a precautionary measure. The decision follows the publication of a study on Friday in the medical journal The Lancet that found the use of chloroquine or its derivatives such as hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19 to be ineffective or even harmful, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference, adding that the suspension was decided on Saturday. […]

According to the large study published in The Lancet, neither chloroquine nor its hydroxychloroquine derivative is effective against COVID-19 in hospitalized patients, and these molecules even increase the risk of death and cardiac arrhythmia. The study analysed data from approximately 96,000 patients infected with the CoV-2 SARS virus admitted to 671 hospitals between December 20, 2019 and April 14, 2020, and discharged or died since then. Approximately 15,000 of these patients received one of four combinations (1. chloroquine alone 2. chloroquine combined with antibiotics, 3. hydroxychloroquine alone or 4. hydroxychloroquine combined with antibiotics), and these four groups were then compared to the 81,000 patients in the control group who did not receive this treatment.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 26, 2020: In Algeria, pro-Hirak demonstrations resumed during Eid el-Fitr

Despite the ban on all gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the anti-regime protest has notably resumed in Kabylia. Marches in support of the detainees of Hirak, the popular anti-regime movement, took place during the Eid el-Fitr festival in Algeria, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the ban on demonstrations, reported local media and social networks. The most recent demonstration was held on Monday 25 May in Kherrata, in the wilaya (prefecture) of Béjaïa, in Kabylia, east of Algiers, according to videos and photos widely distributed on social networks.

For more information (in French), please visit the following link.

May 27, 2020: Algerian court rejects request for release of journalist Khaled Drareni

The request for the provisional release of journalist Khaled Drareni, who has been in detention since the end of March and has become a symbol of the fight for press freedom, was refused by the Algerian justice system on Wednesday, according to the National Committee for the Release of Detainees. Imprisoned in the Kolea prison centre in western Algiers on 29 March while awaiting trial, the journalist has become a symbol of the fight for press freedom.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 27, 2020: Commercialization of masks at a price not exceeding 30 DA

Citizens will be able from next week to buy masks at a price not exceeding 30 Da, said Tuesday the National Association of Traders and Craftsmen (ANCA) . The ANCA will make public, from next week, the telephone numbers of workshops responsible for the manufacture of masks in all wilayas. All citizens will be able to contact these workshops to directly acquire masks at a price not exceeding 30 DA/unit, says a statement published on the Facebook page of the ANCA.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 27, 2020: DGNS denies COVID-19 contamination of 17,000 police officers

The Direction générale de la sécurité nationale (DGSN) denied the information relayed on social networks concerning the contamination of 17,000 police officers by COVID-19. The DGSN indicated on Tuesday on its Facebook page that the information in question was a fakenews.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 27, 2020: Blocking of sites and detention of Khaled Drareni – Belhimer’s new explanations

Communication minister and government spokesman Ammar Belhimer spoke again on Tuesday, May 26, about the case of online newspapers and the detention of journalist Khaled Drareni.

“(…) there are headlines that complain of being censored or even outright banned! To date, no title has been banned by anyone, not even by the courts. In fact, there are a few titles that regularly report that access from Algeria is limited and is therefore only possible with the use of a VPN, which is abundantly available free of charge in the Play store for holders of Smartphones under Android or Apple system and in Microsoft store for users with a laptop or desktop PC, or a tablet. The fact is that regular access to the titles in question is quite possible,” the communication minister explained in an interview with the daily Le Courrier d’Alger in today’s edition.

“Moreover, I don’t know if some publishers are using, as you say, “dubious expedients” with the sole aim of getting people talking about them, of getting publicity indirectly. If this is true, their attitude would be contrary to journalistic ethics,” he said.

“That said, the various sectors concerned by a possible technical limitation on access to these digital media have assured us that the enormous amount of traffic in the time of containment required to manage the consequences of COVID-19 makes it difficult to access a multitude of electronic sites. Narrow bandwidth is also a factor,” he said.

According to Belhimer: “The Maghreb Emergent website is one of the online newspapers that have not been banned and remains accessible via social networks and through a VPN in particular. So I don’t see where censorship would be for a newspaper that continues to publish regularly.”

“Basically, I would remind you that the editor and columnist (El Kadi Ihsane, editor’s note) was the author of a defamation and insult against the head of state in the exercise of his presidential duties. He is therefore the subject of a formal judicial complaint which is following its normal course. In his capacity as director of publication, manager and shareholder, this same person is – like any other taxpayer – required to report to the tax authorities and social security bodies on the regularity of the conditions of employment and the exercise of the rights of employees in terms of social security coverage in force in his company”, he said.

Detention of Khaled Drareni

“Regarding journalist Khaled Drareni, an unaccredited correspondent for foreign media and de facto representative of the NGO Reporters Without Borders, whose activities have no legal basis in our country, the reply to your question is a matter for the interior and justice ministries,” the communication minister and government spokesman said.

It is up to the prosecutor’s office to say, in accordance with the law, whether he has been deprived of his liberty because of his professional activities. “I cannot therefore tell you exactly what he is accused of. It will therefore be known at his trial or on the prior occasion of a communication on this subject from the territorially competent Public Prosecutor’s Office”, he said.

Belhimer recalled the law 12-06 of January 12, 2012 relating to associations, still in force, organizes the relations between Algerian parties and foreign associations.

“Article 22 of the law certainly authorizes an Algerian party or association to join another foreign association which pursues similar goals, but it must first obtain two notices: that of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, then that of the Minister of the Interior, who makes his motivated decision within 60 days. Algerian associations wishing to cooperate in partnership with other foreign associations or non-governmental organizations pursuing the same goals must meet two conditions linked to the framework (existence of so-called “partnership” agreements) and the prior agreement of the authorities concerned. Sanctions are foreseen in case of non-compliance and an administrative decision is sufficient to suspend the activities of an association,” he said.

Criminalisation of the dissemination of fake news

Regarding the criminalization of the dissemination of false information, Belhimer said: “Deliberately publishing false news is in itself a crime and a blatant infringement of freedom of expression! It is even an assault on the readers, listeners and viewers of such false information. A violation of their right to be properly informed.”

“Criminalizing the wilful dissemination of fake news is the only way to protect society from the dangers of intoxication and manipulation. Social cohesion and the good moral health of people require the use of the force of law against those who use and abuse this right to distort, intoxicate, manipulate, and ultimately harm individuals and the community. Punishing in a fair manner, meaningthrough applying the law, is to limit the capacity for nuisance of malefactors and other media offenders, especially since the Internet and social networks are a breeding ground for the proliferation and rapid spread of fake news that functions as a veritable pandemic. The criminalization of the dissemination and spread of false information undermining public order and security is an old category of the penal code that has been revived and aggravated to frame the COVID-19 pandemic control mechanism,” he explained.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 27, 2020: Despite WHO reservations about treatment – Algeria will not give up chloroquine

Treatment will continue for the time being, says Prof. Smail Mesbah, an infectious disease specialist and member of the Scientific Committee for Monitoring the Evolution of COVID-19. “The decision to implement this treatment has been taken by the Scientific Council since last March and the results to date are satisfactory for the patients treated. To date, we have not experienced any side effects or excess mortality, as described in this prospective study published in The Lancet. However, the issue will be discussed within the Scientific Council, but we will continue to treat confirmed cases of COVID according to the protocol established and validated by the Scientific Council,” said Prof. Mesbah, adding that the WHO has suspended its clinical trials with researchers. “Algeria is not participating in these studies,” he added. He recalled that “the WHO has not given any recommendation on the use or not of hydroxy chloroquine to date.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 28, 2020: Chinese medical team of experts completes its mission in Algeria

Composed of 20 experts specialized in the fight against COVID-19, the Chinese team, which left Algeria today, made several visits to hospitals in the country. The Chinese delegation explained that these visits were an opportunity to share the experiences of the two countries, particularly with regard to methods of treatment and care of diseases related to the coronavirus.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 28, 2020: Partial containment extended until June 13!

The partial confinement in Algeria has been renewed for several wilayas, by applying a partial confinement at home, from 5 p.m. until the next day at 7 a.m., applicable to the wilayas of Batna, Béjaia, Blida, Tlemcen, Tiaret, Tizi Ouzou, Algiers, Sétif, Sidi Bellabes, Constantine, Annaba, Médéa, Oran, Bordj Bou Arreridj, Tipaza and Ain Defla and this, for a period of fifteen (15) days, applicable from Saturday, May 30 to Saturday, June 13, 2020. The extension, for the rest of the wilayas, of the partial confinement at home from 7 p.m. until the next day at 7 a.m. for a period of fifteen (15) days, applicable from Saturday 30 May until Saturday 13 June 2020. The total lifting of the confinement finally concerns only four wilayas, which are, Saida, Tindouf, Illizi and Tamanrasset, and it was partially renewed for the rest of the wilayas until June 13, said a press release from the Prime Minister on Thursday.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.

May 30, 2020: Working hours applicable in public institutions and administrations fixed

“Following the extension of the partial home containment measures provided for in the regulatory package on the prevention and control of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) until 13 June 2020, the working hours applicable in public institutions and administrations shall be fixed from Saturday 30 May to Saturday 13 June 2020 from Sunday to Thursday as follows:

  • From 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for staff working in the wilayas subject to partial home confinement from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. (Batna, Bejaïa, Blida, Tlemcen, Tiaret, Tizi Ouzou, Algiers, Sétif, Sidi-Bel Abbes, Constantine, Annaba, Médéa, Oran, Bordj-Bou Arreridj, Tipaza and Ain Defla).
  • From 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for personnel working in the wilayas subject to partial home confinement from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., as well as in the wilaya of Saïda.
  • From 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for personnel working in the wilayas of Adrar, Tamanghasset, Illizi, Tindouf, Béchar, Ouargla, Ghardaïa, Laghouat, Biskra and El-Oued.

However, staff excluded from the partial confinement measures at home and those with special permission to travel during the confinement hours remain subject to the normal working hours provided for by the regulations in force,” the statement concluded.

For more information (in French), please consult the following link.