Transparency International (TI), the international anti-corruption movement, has expressed its concern over Algerian journalist Djillali Hadjadj, who has been forced to resign from his job with the Algerian newspaper El-Watan. Shareholders declared that they would suspend the newspaper if the editors continued to publish his articles, which often dealt with corruption issues. Although he tried to obtain a clarification from the newspaper of what exactly they perceived to be insulting or personally slanderous to themselves, he did not receive any answer.
Hadjadj had earlier in the year published a book "Corruption and Democracy in Algeria"* in France which was very well-received and is being translated into Arabic. Meanwhile, Hadjadj has actively been writing other articles about the issue of corruption in Algeria. Hadadj is also the national contact of the anti-corruption NGO Transparency International, an international movement of more than 70 chapters around the world. Together with other journalists, lawyers, and individuals from civil society, they are in the process of founding an association that aims to work on combating corruption in Algeria. Such incidences again highlight how significant the freedom of the press is in the fight against corruption. "The press needs to be free if corruption is to be exposed and curbed and if democracy is to thrive. The media is a watchdog for the public that examines in detail the actions of those who have been given the public trust," said TI Vice-Chairman Frank Vogl.
It appears that some Algerian authorities are extremely worried about any connection between the future Algerian group and the world-wide network, as Hadjadj was given to understand. It also appears that the book and related criticisms are, in fact, not the sole cause of the problems that Hadjadj has encountered this year, but also aimed to hamper the formation of the anti-corruption association in Algeria by forcing him to resign from his job. Hadjadj is, however, adamant that he will continue writing, albeit for other papers and if necessary, using a pen-name, and that the steps to deposit the statutes of the Association with the Ministry of the Interior will go ahead as planned. We will keep you informed of further developments.
* Hadjadj, Djillali, Corruption et démocratie en Algerie, La Dispute, Paris, 1999
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