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Funds are desperately needed for Mohamed Harkat's legal defense as he faces deportation to Algeria. Please donate online.

Donations
Nous avons un besoin urgent d'argent pour assurer la défense juridique de Mohamed Harkat qui est menacé d'expulsion vers l'Algérie. Nous vous invitons à faire un don.


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Algerian man fights to stay in Canada after years of uncertainty

posted on December 20, 2019 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

by: Jillian Kestler-D'Amours
Source: Al Jazeera English
URL: [link]
Date: December 16, 2019

Supporters of Mohamed Harkat, who's spent 17 years under 'security certificate', says he'll face persecution if deported

Montreal, Canada - It has been nearly two decades since Sophie Lamarche-Harkat's husband was arrested outside their home in the Canadian capital, Ottawa. Since then, the circumstances surrounding Mohamed Harakat's detention and restricted release have shifted, but the couple's life together remains mired in uncertainty.

"I'm just exhausted. I'm burnt out from all this. This has taken a toll on both of us," Sophie told Al Jazeera in a telephone interview last week. "It feels unreal [that] it's been 17 years."

Harkat fled Algeria as civil war gripped the country in the mid-1990s. He eventually moved to Canada, where he obtained refugee status.

On December 10, 2002, however, he was arrested in Ottawa. Accused of being tied to al-Qaeda and associating with extremists, allegations he denies, he was detained under what is called a "security certificate".

Used against a handful of people in Canada in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the United States, the security certificate mechanism is an immigration tool that allows the Canadian government to detain and deport non-citizens on national security grounds.

With security certificates, the government does not have to charge the accused with a crime and it can rely on evidence it keeps secret for reasons of security. In Harkat's case, he was detained for more than three years before being released with restrictions.

The 17-year anniversary of Harkat's arrest has prompted renewed calls for the Canadian government to lift the security certificate and allow Harkat to remain in the country.

The case has also put the spotlight on Canadian immigration processes - and raised new questions about the government's long-standing security certificates system, as well as fears Harkat would face torture in Algeria.

"Mo's never been charged and everybody's that's met and loves him will tell you that he doesn't have an ounce of hate in him. My husband is loving, hard-working, he's funny," Sophie said.

"It's so shameful that in Canada - a Canada that's known for human rights, has put my husband through hell. Not only him, me and my entire family."

'Kafkaesque' system

According to the Canadian government, 27 people have been issued security certificates since 1991.

Part of the country's immigration system, security certificates give the government the power to detain and deport non-citizens it believes pose a threat to national security, have committed human rights violations, or who are involved in organised crime, among other things.

Due to the nature of the alleged offences and to protect national security, Ottawa keeps much of the evidence used in security certificate cases confidential.

Five men, including Harkat, were issued security certificates in the early 2000s after Canada passed an Anti-Terrorism Act in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

The cases of those men, known as the Secret Trial Five, led human rights groups to condemn Canada for using a tool they argued violates the right to due process and relies on secret evidence.

It was later revealed that in Harkat's case, the Canadian government used information it obtained from a Guantanamo Bay detainee known as Abu Zubaydah who was subjected to torture at the hands of US interrogators, including 83 rounds of waterboarding in a single month.

After his arrest, Harkat spent more than three years in Ontario's Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, known as Canada's Guantanamo North before being released in 2006 under what advocates said were some of the country's strictest bail conditions, including 24-hour supervision and a GPS monitoring device.

Harkat has denied the government's claim that he is associated with al-Qaeda. But he has struggled to defend himself without knowing all the charges against him.

Sophie said both she and her husband have struggled to find employment due to the stigma surrounding the case. He currently works as a custodian at a church in Ottawa, but ongoing restrictions on his mobile phone and computer use has made that work more difficult, she added.

"It feels absurd. It's really Kafkaesque," said Tim McSorley, national coordinator at the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, an advocacy organisation in Ottawa, about the security certificates system.

Revisions

McSorley explained that security certificates are "applied as an anti-terrorism tool and because of that they are done in a large degree of secrecy".

The accused in these cases are "not being charged with a crime, they're not going to a criminal court, they don't have the same rights to defend themselves", he told Al Jazeera.

After mounting criticism and legal challenges to the system, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2007 that security certificates were unconstitutional.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++


On this #InternationalHumanRightsDay, the Liberal government must end the deportation to torture of Mohamed Harkat. Read the open letter sent to @BillBlair, from us, @AmnestyNow, @nccm and 19 others, calling for him & his govt to act immediately: https://t.co/0NkDfqIEo0 #cdnpoli
— International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (@ICLMG) December 10, 2019


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++


But the court gave the government time to draft new legislation that would better address concerns about the rights of people held under the certificates. Ottawa passed a law a year later that instituted a few changes to the system, including the creation of a "special advocate" whose job it is "to protect the interests" of the accused.

But McSorley said the special advocate is not a defence lawyer, and he or she cannot share much of the government's secret evidence with the accused.

"Once the special advocate goes into the confidential hearings, they're not allowed to communicate any more with the defence," he said.

After those changes were made, the Supreme Court in 2014 upheld both the revised security certificate system, and said the one issued against Harkat was "reasonable". After that decision, the government moved forward with plans to send Harkat back to Algeria.

"It's really frustrating and infuriating to see that 17 years in the government is making no move to provide any more clarity as to what he's supposedly done and to allow him to defend himself," McSorley said.

A 'balance'

The federal government defends its decision to place Harkat under a security certificate, however.

"The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the constitutionality of the security certificates regime and the reasonableness of the security certificate issued against Mr Harkat," said Tim Warmington, a spokesman for Public Safety Canada, told Al Jazeera in an email.

Although Warmington said the government ministry could not comment on specific removal orders, he stressed that "Canada has a robust assessment process and safeguards to ensure that no one is removed to risk of persecution."

When people who hold refugee status are issued a deportation order, they can only be removed from Canada after a "Danger Opinion" is issued by a senior official at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, another government branch, said Warmington.

In such cases, the official "must balance the risk of mistreatment in returning the person against the danger the person poses to the public if they remain in Canada", he explained.

The UN's Refugee Convention protects refugees against forced returns to places they could face persecution, a process known as refoulement. But exceptions can be made if a refugee is deemed to pose a threat to the country in which he or she resettled, the convention states.

In Canada, refugees who fail to pass the "Danger Opinion" and are subject to deportation from Canada may apply for judicial review and ask that their removal be suspended pending the court's decision.

Harkat's lawyer, Barbara Jackman, told Al Jazeera she filed for a judicial review of his deportation order in November 2018. But the federal court still has not received all the information on which the government based its removal decision, she said, and without the complete record, it is unclear when the case will proceed.

Jackman described the government's behaviour in Harkat's case as "perverse".

"I think it's just face-saving," she said, about why she believes the government has not dropped the case.

"I think that they spent so much money and invested so much in it that they can't be seen as saying, 'OK, this isn't well founded' … I think it's perverse in terms of what they're doing and how long they've been doing it."

Risk of torture

Harkat's supporters have raised serious concerns that he could be tortured in Algeria should Canada follow through with his deportation.

On December 10, human rights groups, unions and concerned Canadians sent a letter to the new public safety minister, Bill Blair, to ask for him to intervene to prevent Harkat's removal from the country.

They said Canada would be putting Harkat's life in danger should it deport him to Algeria, which has a poor human rights record and where anti-government protests have been held regularly over the last year.

Justin Mohamed, human rights law and policy campaigner at Amnesty International Canada, said the group is concerned Harkat would not have access to a fair trial and could be tortured in Algeria.

"The nature of the Canadian allegations against him would render him subject to an unfair trial in Algeria," Mohamed told Al Jazeera.

"Amnesty International is very concerned that the Algerian authorities don't comply with the international legal obligations concerning the prohibition of torture."

For her part, Harkat's wife, Sophie, said it has been "extremely frustrating because the minister just has to sign a piece of paper and we can just move on with our lives".

She said she prefers not to think about the possibility that her husband could be sent to Algeria.

"Mo lives with that cloud every day over his head - constant. And he still has nightmares about it. I'm somewhat in denial; I don't want to discuss this," she told Al Jazeera. "If the government sends him back, they'll have blood on their hands."

SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


VIDEO: Santa Claus visits the Public Safety Canada office

posted on December 20, 2019 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Date: December 10, 2019


WATCH VIDEO ON FACEBOOK, PART 1



WATCH VIDEO ON FACEBOOK, PART 2



PHOTOS: Santa Claus visits the Public Safety Canada office

posted on December 19, 2019 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Date: December 10, 2019

Thank you to all who came and participated especially Matthew Behrens who played Santa!



See more photos HERE


On this International Human Rights Day the Liberal Government Must Stop Mohamed Harkat's Deportation to Torture

posted on December 10, 2019 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Source: Press release
Date: December 10, 2019


For immediate release

On this International Human Rights Day, the Liberal Government Must Stop Mohamed
Harkat’s Deportation to Torture

Dec. 10, 2019, OTTAWA – The Liberal government must live up to its word to end all complicity in torture, starting by putting an end to the deportation proceedings against Mohamed Harkat, writes a group of leading human rights and civil society organizations in a new letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.

The letter is co-signed by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), Amnesty International Canada, and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). Nineteen other organizations and individuals from across the country have endorsed the letter. The letter is available online at:

[link]

December 10 is International Human Rights Day. This year marks the 17th anniversary of Mr. Harkat
being placed under a security certificate, and the beginning of the ordeal which has continuously
undermined his fundamental rights. He is currently facing deportation to Algeria, where he will be at risk of prolonged solitary confinement, forms of treatment that constitute torture or other ill treatment, and unfair trial based on the fact that he has been publicly identified and described by Canadian officials as a terrorism suspect and security threat.

All of this is despite Mr. Harkat never being charged with, let alone convicted of a crime since arriving in Canada in 1995.

The groups are calling on Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair to use powers granted to him under
section 42.1(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to allow Mr. Harkat, who Canada
recognizes as a refugee, to remain in Canada. They are also asking for an end to the security certificate regime overall.

“Allowing Mr. Harkat to remain in Canada would send a clear message, at the very start of this new parliament, that defending human rights and eliminating mistreatment and torture go hand in hand with protecting the safety of people in Canada,” said Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the ICLMG. “It is beyond cruel irony that Mohamed Harkat’s journey through so many years of injustice began on International Human Rights Day. As he marks the 17th anniversary of being subject to an immigration security certificate and facing the prospect of deportation to human rights violations, it is time – far past time – for the government to relent, lift the certificate, and let Mohamed get on with his life in Canada,” said Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada.

“It is disgraceful that Mohamed Harkat has been under a security certificate for close to two decades. No one in Canada should be subject to what he has had to go through. When one of us can be detained without the kind of trial any Canadian would receive for 17 years, it affects our entire conception of our rights and freedoms,” said Mustafa Farooq, Executive Director of the NCCM.

Contacts:
Tim McSorley, ICLMG
(613) 241-5298
national.coordination AT iclmg.ca

Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada
(613) 744-7667 ext 236
lscholey AT amnesty.ca


Open Letter to Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair

posted on December 10, 2019 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink


December 10, 2019

The Honourable Bill Blair, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety
269 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Canada
K1A 0P8

Dear Minister Blair,

Today is December 10, International Human Rights Day. Ironically, it also marks the 17 th anniversary of Mohamed Harkat being placed under a security certificate, and the beginning of the ordeal which has continuously undermined his fundamental rights.

We believe it is urgent that you act on Mr. Harkat’s case. Having been recognized as a refugee in
Canada, Mr. Harkat has lived here for 24 years without ever being charged or convicted of a crime. Yet, because of the security certificate based on secretive information of questionable origin, Mr. Harkat continues to face deportation to Algeria where he will be at risk of prolonged solitary confinement, forms of treatment that constitute torture or other ill treatment, and unfair trial based on the fact that he has been publicly identified and described by Canadian officials as a terrorism suspect and security threat.

Our organizations have long decried the use of security certificates, which undermine the rights of the targeted individual by allowing information not normally considered “evidence” to be used against them, and preventing them or their counsel from accessing the whole case brought against them – essentially eliminating any hope of mounting an adequate and full defense.

We believe that security certificates should ultimately be eradicated from Canada’s legal system, and that instead the government should focus on prosecutions under the Criminal Code, which would serve to protect the rights of the accused as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international covenants, and in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. Despite this, security certificates were in fact significantly worsened through changes brought about with the adoption of the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. Disappointingly, your government declined to address these issues in the recently passed National Security Act, 2017.

More immediately, we are writing because, as the new Minister of Public Safety, Mr. Harkat’s fate is in your hands. Under section 42.1(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Minister of Public Safety is granted the power to allow Mr. Harkat to stay in Canada where it is not contrary to the national interest. The courts have consistently relaxed Mr. Harkat’s bail conditions over the years, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service did not deem it necessary to file a risk assessment at Mr. Harkat’s bail hearing in the fall of 2017. As his work colleagues and supporters have attested, and as court assessments and psychiatrists have demonstrated, Mr. Harkat is committed to leading a peaceful life and letting him stay would not be contrary to Canada’s interests. Moreover, deporting a man to a risk of imprisonment and torture is clearly against Canada’s national interest, as well as its international
obligations.

We have closely followed the case of Mohamed Harkat since it came to the public eye in 2002. Under the very problematic security certificate regime, Mr. Harkat was imprisoned in maximum security for 43 months, spent years under house arrest, and faced some of the strictest bail conditions in Canadian history. The original “evidence” against Mr. Harkat was destroyed and the allegations against him are based on the testimony of an informant who failed a lie detector test and was never cross-examined in court. Mr. Harkat has never been charged with, let alone convicted, of a crime.

Life under a security certificate has also had a profoundly negative impact on Mr. Harkat’s well-being. His arrest and time in solitary confinement, the severe conditions of his release and the threat of deportation to torture have resulted in chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and insomnia. Sophie Lamarche-Harkat, Mr. Harkat’s wife, has also spoken of the stress upon her, their household and their family of living with constant Canada Border Services Agency surveillance and the threat of losing a loved one. Throughout all this, Mr. Harkat has gained a community that cares about him deeply. For them, he is simply “Moe,” a loving and soft-spoken man who is always ready to help those around him. They have been living in constant fear since deportation proceedings began four years ago.

Beyond the current impacts of living under a security certificate on Mr. Harkat’s well-being, he faces a credible threat of imprisonment, abuse and torture if, as your government is seeking, he is deported to Algeria.

Amnesty International has noted that the Algerian Code of Criminal Procedure allows those charged
under anti-terrorism laws to be detained for up to 12 days without access to legal counsel or charge, and does not prohibit the use of confessions obtained under torture. Amnesty International has also reported on a case as recent as 2018, wherein a journalist was reportedly beaten and waterboarded, held in solitary confinement for over one month.

It is also important to note that courts in other countries, such as the UK in 2016 and Ireland in 2017, have recognized these concerns and barred their governments from deporting individuals to Algeria as the individuals concerned faced a substantial risk of torture.

On October 26, 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau clearly stated: “I hope people remember to demand of
governments, this one and all future governments, that nobody ever has their fundamental rights
violated either through inaction or deliberate action by Canadian governments. Nobody ever deserves to be tortured. And when a Canadian government is either complicit in that or was not active enough in preventing it, there needs to be responsibility taken.”

Consequently, we urge you, Minister Blair, to use this unique position and the discretion afforded under the law to exempt Mr. Harkat from deportation, end this 17-year ordeal and allow him to stay with his wife and community in Canada. Doing so would send a clear message, at the very start of your mandate, that defending human rights and eliminating mistreatment and torture go hand in hand with protecting the safety of people in Canada. It would also ensure that Canada upholds its commitments as a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture. We do not want this government, or its successors, to have to once again apologize and pay compensation because your government refused to take the right action today.

We would appreciate a timely response to our letter, and if you would like more information or have any questions, we would be happy to meet with you to discuss it further.


Sincerely,
Tim McSorley
National Coordinator
International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

Alex Neve
Secretary-General
Amnesty International Canada

Mustafa Farooq
Executive Director
National Council of Canadian Muslims


Endorsed by:
• Canadian Arab Federation
• Canadian Association of University Teachers
• Sofia Descalzi, National Chairperson
3Canadian Federation of Students
• Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
• Canadian Union of Postal Workers
• Council of Canadians
• Fred Hahn, President
CUPE Ontario
• Corey Balsam, National Coordinator
Independent Jewish Voices – Canada
• Inter Pares
• Gail Davidson, Executive Director
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada
• Monia Mazigh
• National Union of Public and General Employees
• NoWar-Paix
• Ottawa Raging Grannies
• Peggy Mason, President
Rideau Institute on International Affairs
• Sharry Aiken, Associate Professor
Faculty of Law Queen’s University
• Socialist Action
• Matthew Behrens, Coordinator
Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture
• Vancouver and District Labour Council

6,043 days Fighting Deportation to Torture: Call Trudeau to Say Enough is Enough

posted on June 28, 2019 | in Category Urgent Action Required | PermaLink

Source: International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG)
URL:
Date: June 28, 2019


For this year's International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, help out someone who has spent the past 6,043 days living under the threat of deportation to torture: Ottawa refugee Mohamed Harkat.

Call Justin Trudeau at 613-992-4211 and remind him that no one should ever face the prospect of torture. Indeed, the threat of that hanging over someone's head for over 16.5 years is itself a form of torture. Here is a suggested message you can use.

Here are two other quick and easy things you can do:

1. Once you have made your call, take a minute to send a letter to your own MP, the PM and federal ministers, asking them to act now. We need all MPs to know that the pressure is on to oppose torture and to keep Moe in Canada.

2. Sign and share the petition on your facebook, instagram, twitter, other social media pages, and via email to encourage friends to sign it. Source

--

Amnesty International: 5 tools of torture which need to be banned: Stun belts, stun batons, spiked batons, neck cuffs, and restraint chairs


Stop the deportation of Mohamed Harkat

posted on May 15, 2019 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

By: Dylan Penner
Source: The Council of Canadians
URL: [link]
Date: May 15, 2019


The Council of Canadians has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale [PDF file] calling for the immediate end to deportation proceedings against UN Convention refugee Mohamed Harkat.

Harkat has been subjected to a Security Certificate since 2002. After three and a half years in solitary confinement, Harkat was released under the strictest conditions in Canadian history. Now he is facing possible deportation to torture.

As we write in the letter, “We are deeply concerned that Immigration Canada is making a concerted effort to deport Mohamed Harkat. If deported to Algeria under a controversial Security Certificate, Mr. Harkat will likely be subjected to torture and his life will be at risk.”

The deeply undemocratic practice of Security Certificates is based on hearsay, innuendo, and secret information. Harkat should be allowed to remain in Canada, not deported to likely torture.

Canadian and international law is clear that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty and have the right to a fair trial. Mohamed Harkat has not had anything resembling a trial at all, let alone a fair one, and is presumed guilty based on information obtained through torture, the originals of which have since been destroyed.

For many years, the Council has supported efforts to end this injustice and to let Mr. Harkat stay in Canada. It’s time to uphold the findings of the Arar and Iacobucci inquiries and to end this ongoing human rights violation.

The Council of Canadians unequivocally opposes the secret trials, deportation to torture, and a two-tiered justice system, which Security Certificates represent. Security Certificates are steeped in racism, targeting Arab and Muslim men. That Security Certificates are allowed to continue sends a very worrying message to the rest of world about where Canada stands on human rights and international law.

This must come to an end. It’s time to stop the deportation of Mohamed Harkat and abolish Security Certificates.

Take action now to help end this injustice: Write to your MP and Prime Minister Trudeau and sign the petition to stop Mohamed Harkat’s deportation.

--
Dylan Penner's blog


Algeria: Absurd conviction of journalist Adlène Mellah must be overturned

posted on January 23, 2019 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Press Release
Source: Amnesty International
URL: [link]
Date: January 22, 2019


Algeria’s Court of Appeal must end the ordeal of the journalist, Adlène Mellah, who was jailed simply for covering a peaceful public gathering last month, said Amnesty International today ahead of his appeal hearing on 23 January.

Adlène Mellah, director of news websites Algerie direct and Dzair Press has been held in solitary confinement since he was jailed in El Harrach prison on 11 December 2018.

"It is outrageous that a journalist has been imprisoned simply for carrying out his work and exercising his rights to freedom of expression. The authorities must overturn Adlène Mellah’s conviction and drop all the charges against him in this case immediately," said Heba Morayef, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

“Adlène Mellah’s case sends an alarming message about the state of media freedom in Algeria today. Journalists must be allowed to carry out their work free from harassment or intimidation, without fear of being arrested by the authorities.”

Adlène was arrested while covering a protest of 200 people in Algiers on 9 December. The demonstration was held in solidarity with the imprisoned singer, Rada Hmimid, known by the stage name Reda City 16. On 25 December, the court of Bab El Oued sentenced Adlène to a year in jail and a 100,000 dinar (around US$843) fine on charges of "rebellion" and "non-armed gathering".

A lawyer present at the trial told Amnesty International that the prosecution’s only evidence against Adlène was his presence at the protest.

In a video of the protest, a police officer is seen telling Adlène to leave the protest. Shortly afterwards, he grabs Adlène by his arm, pushes him and says that public gatherings are illegal. Algerian authorities maintain a de facto ban on protests in Algiers under an unpublished decree from 2001.

Adlène was arrested along with two protesters, Abdelaziz Laadjal and Abdelhafid Benekrouche, who were released later that day. Adlène has been detained since.

In a court session on 18 December, the group of more than 20 lawyers who represent Adlène decided to withdraw and leave the courtroom as a sign of protest against what they said was the "deliberate intention" of the judge to hold an unfair trial.

Prolonged solitary confinement amounting to torture

Since his arrest, Adlène has been detained in solitary confinement, according to two of his lawyers. He is currently held alone in his cell and even during his courtyard breaks, he is alone apart from prison staff. Lack of meaningful contact with other detainees for at least 22 hours a day for more than 15 days constitutes prolonged solitary confinement, which amounts to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, under the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules).

To protest the verdict, Mellah began a hunger strike on 26 December, the day after he was convicted. According to his lawyer Zoubida Assoul, Adlène had lost at least 14 kilograms as of 15 January. Another lawyer who visited him on 20 January told Amnesty International that after a visit from his family, Adlène had agreed to take serums containing salt and glucoses as well as vitamins.

One of his lawyers also told Amnesty International that Adlène was already very weak after reporting torture during his previous imprisonment. The Gendarmerie brigade of Bab Jdid in Algiers arrested him on 22 October 2018 on charges of "blackmail" and "harm to privacy".

Adlène told Amnesty International that he was beaten and waterboarded by gendarmerie officers who also placed a cloth doused in bleach into his mouth three times. A Court provisionally released him on 22 November 2018 but the authorities failed to order an investigation into his torture claims.

“The Algerian authorities must immediately quash the conviction against Adlène Mellah and free him and all other peaceful protesters, human rights activists and journalists prosecuted or detained simply for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Heba Morayef.

Adlène’s arrest and conviction comes as part of a broader crackdown against freedom of expression in Algeria that intensified in October 2018, when at least seven journalists and six activists were arrested and detained in connection with their journalism under penal code provisions.

© 2019 AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL


Pro-Military Media Accuses US Ambassador of Wanting to ‘Turn Algeria into Syria’

posted on January 23, 2019 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Hassan Masiky
Source: Morocco World News
URL: [link]
Date: January 16, 2019

Algeria’s intelligence agencies are unhappy with the activities of the US ambassador in Algiers, and they used a pro-military website to convey that displeasure.

Washington D.C. – In an article published on January 15, the Francophone website Algerie Patriotique accused American Ambassador to Algeria John Desrocher of “plotting” with opposition parties to destabilize the current regime and “turn Algeria into a new Syria.”

The article went on to question the real motives behind the American diplomat’s extensive travels around the country and the purpose of his invitations for young Algerians to “undergo” American NGO training on democracy.

The pro-establishment website indicated that the ambassador held secret meetings with opposition groups to encourage them “to carry out actions of subversion.” It suggests that Washington’s top diplomat’s actions and activities are suspect and amount to “political activism” against the Algerian state.

Furthermore, Algerie Patriotique accused, in the same article, Ambassador William J. Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former US deputy secretary of state under President Obama, of conspiring with the Moroccan monarchy to subvert Algeria.

However, the more troubling element in this hard-to-fact-check article is Algerie Patriotique’s comparison of Ambassador Desrocher to his predecessor, “the unmistakable Robert Ford who, in the 1990s, had turned his office of adviser to the US embassy in El-Biar into a headquarters for extremists of the FIS and the armed arm, the GIA,” according to the website.

It is startling to see a pro-government media site accuse past and current American diplomats stationed in Algeria of associating with terrorist groups and plotting to change the government by force. Algerie Patriotique would never have published such an account without the direction and approval of top intelligence officers.

In fact, Algeria’s notorious Military Intelligence manufactures these “type” of stories and feeds them to their social media mouthpieces. The hope is to cast doubt about the allegiance and patriotism of opposition groups fighting for democracy and human rights.

In provoking Ambassador Desrocher, the Algerian government tries to portray the opposition as agents of the American government leading some activists to distance themselves from the work of Western NGOs.

While Algeria is not innately anti-American, it is suspicious of the work of US pro-democracy organizations. The government fears that democracy-building activities are a threat to its rule.

For some independent political observers, Ambassador Desrocher is collateral damage in the larger smear campaign directed by the military to de-legitimize members of a coalition of independent organizations fighting to stop a fifth term for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Nevertheless, accusations of “acts of subversion” against US diplomats are serious and a breach in protocol. Since Algerie Patriotique conveys the position of the powerful military establishment that controls the country, the Algerian government must give some clarifications regarding the publication of such false allegations.


Algerian Politician Warns of Unprecedented Crisis in Algeria

posted on January 23, 2019 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Tarek Bassa
Source: Morocco World News
URL: [link]
Date: January 13, 2019


Rabat – Abderrazak Makri, the leader of Algeria’s Movement of Society for Peace (MSP) political party, warned of an unprecedented crisis that Algeria may experience beginning in late 2019.

Starting from late 2019 until 2022, “we will experience unprecedented lean years. They will be difficult for Algeria and the ordinary citizen will feel the burden more than others,” Makri wrote on his Facebook page on January 11.

The politician, who is pleading for the postponement of the Algerian presidential election of April 2019, lamented that “the struggle for power and money dominates the political scene” in Algeria.

Few Algerians, according to Makri, “are worried about the economic and social risks that will make Algeria very vulnerable to regional and international threats in the short term.”

Makri warned at the end of his post, “I fear that when all Algerians recognize those who warn and advise from those who deceit and betray, it will be too late.”

A few days before Makri’s warning, a former Algerian prime minister, Ahmed Benbitour, said that Algeria is going through a deep political crisis due to the “autocratic and paternalistic” regime.

Benbitour, who is also an economist, stressed that there should be mobilization to make the current regime relinquish its hold on power and the country’s resources, to help save from political failure and economic crisis.

For Benbitour, Algeria’s “responsible elites” have to assess the situation, inform the population of the dire state of the country, and force a “peaceful” regime change.

“Our country is governed by an authoritarian, paternalistic, and patrimonialist regime that thrives on rent-seeking and economic predation,” Benbitour said Monday in Algiers at a conference on “the Mission of Elites in Saving the Country.”

“A regime change is the key to solving all of our other governance-linked issues,” he added.

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