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European Parliament calls for Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni’s immediate release

Demonstrators around the world have demanded Khaled Drarerni's release [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 November, 2020

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The European Parliament has passed an urgent resolution calling for the release of jailed journalist Khaled Drarerni, citing the 'deterioration of human rights in Algeria'
The European Parliament added its voice on Friday to a growing chorus of organisations worldwide calling for the release of Algerian journalist and Hirak activist Khaled Drareni.

The parliament approved an urgent resolution highlighting the "deteriorating human rights situation in Algeria", referring in particular to the case of Drareni.

Drareni was sentenced to two years in prison on 15 September following his coverage of mass protests in Algeria, as the country cracks down on dissidents and stifles freedom of the press.

Human rights groups have denounced Drarerni's sentence as unjust and unfair.

The European Parliament condemned the escalation of arbitrary arrests and detentions in Algeria, and the resolution called on authorities "to immediately and unconditionally release Mohamed Khaled Drareni and all those detained and charged for exercising their right to freedom of expression, both online and offline, and to freedom of assembly and association, including Yacine Mebarki, Abdallah Benaoum, Mohamed Tadjadit, Abdelhamid Amine, Abdelkrim Zeghileche, Walid Kechida, Brahim Laalami, Aissa Chouha, Zoheir Kaddam, Walid Nekkiche, Nourredine Khimoud, Hakim Addad".

The Parliament also affirmed "the call of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to urgently release all political prisoners and those detained for expressing dissenting views in light of the Covid-19 pandemic".

It went on to call on the "Algerian authorities to unblock media outlets and to halt the arrest and detention of political activists, journalists, and human rights defenders, as well as any person who expresses dissent or criticism of the government".

The resolution was signed by major human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, Action for Change and Democracy in Algeria, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and Riposte Internationale – among others.

Drareni was among a group of activists, journalists and political figures who were arrested after the Algerian authorities rounded up anti-government dissidents and demonstrators.

He was initially sentenced to three years in prison but this was reduced by one year on appeal.

However, his lawyers were shocked that he was not acquitted or given a more lenient judgement.

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