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Omar Belhouchet
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Human Rights Award 1998

Omar Belhouchet, Algeria

Political context

The freedom of press and opinion are accepted, fundamental human rights and are a necessary component of every democratic society. Free media is also called the fourth estate of a country, because it takes on important monitoring measures and tracks, processes and comments on political, economic, social and cultural developments in a country.

In a ranking of 168 countries, carried out by the organisation Reporters Without Borders, Algeria falls in 126th place.

Some impressions of the award

The Awardee

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has presented the Human Rights Award on April 30th, 1998 to Omar Belhouchet, an Algerian journalist and editor of the newspaper "El Watan". The awardee was honoured because of his personal and courageous engagement in an independent reporting and his commitment for the representation of interests of journalists. Omar Belhouchet has always emphasised the necessity of a free, independent media for the implementation of democracy and human rights. The fund is also dedicating this prize to the powers in war-torn Algeria who stand up for democratic reforms and humanity.

In 1987, Omar Belhouchet co-founded the "Journalist Movement of Algeria" (MJA) and later the "Journalist Union of Algeria" (AJA). In 1990 he founded the independent daily newspaper "El Watan" together with colleagues, became executive manager of its desk and finally its editor. In May 1993, he barely escaped assassination by Islamist groups and is facing constant threat since then. Omar Belhouchet has been convicted and imprisoned many times by government bodies, but even economic and financial sanctions against the newspaper "El Watan" couldn't hinder the journalists from working hard on their objectives.

Further Information
Publications Speeches on the Human Rights Award 1998 (German) Links to Publications Detailed Report 2006 on freedom of press Reporters without Borders Detailed Report 2007 on freedom of press Reporters without Borders Freedom of Information Around the World 2006 A Global Survey of Access to Government Records Law, David Banisar Links Website of the Daily Newspaper "El Watan" (French) Website of Freedom House - global ranking regarding freedom of press Website ôReporters without Bordersö - Index 2006 to Freedom of Press Website of the FES Department for Middle East and North Africa (German) Website of the FES Office Algeria (French)