Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says it is “extremely concerned” about the conditions of detention of journalist Adlene Mellah, director of online media Algerie Direct and Dzair Presse, who has been on a hunger strike for more than 15 days to “protest the judicial proceedings he has been the subject of for several months“.
On January 16, 2019, during a visit, his lawyers noted the deterioration of the journalist’s health and his alarming detention conditions.
In solitary confinement since his arrest on December 9th, 2018, Adlène Mellah reportedly lost 14kg and is suffering from the cold and high humidity in his cell. According to one of his lawyers interviewed by RSF, the director of the media is mentally very weak.
“Reporters Without Borders condemns the conditions of detention of journalist Adlene Mellah. The authorities will be held responsible if the journalist’s health deteriorates further“, added Souhaieb Khayati, the director of RSF’s North Africa. “We call for his immediate and unconditional release“, the NGO iterated.
Many analysts and journalists alike have deplored the rise of arbitrary arrests and attribute this rise to the proximity of the 2019 presidential election, they see these arrests and charges as bogus, describing them as an instrumentalisation of the judiciary by the regime.
Algeria is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in the RSF 2018 World Press Freedom Index, losing two spots when compared to the 2017 ranking.