In late November, Algeria’s pliant National Assembly adopted new laws regulating the media and journalism proposed by the government of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. Mohamed Laagab, Algeria’s minister of communications, characterized the new set of rules as “the best law in the history of independent Algeria” for the profession.
Coming from a government that has done so much to eviscerate freedom of expression and tame independent journalism in Algeria, Laagab’s enthusiasm was almost comic. Since coming to power in 2019 in what many Algerians viewed as an illegitimate election, Tebboune has overseen one of the most aggressive campaigns against free speech and political opposition in decades. According to Amnesty International, 11 journalists and media professionals have been arrested or detained by Algerian authorities in the past two years alone.
“Following the Hirak protest movement in 2019, we’ve witnessed the liquidation of press freedom,” says Hacen Ouali, a veteran journalist with a long career working for some of Algeria’s once-emblematic newspapers, including La Liberté and El Watan. “We’ve never had such a domesticated media environment as we do today.”