by: Press Release
Source: Amnesty International
Date: March 15, 2022
Responding to the news that the Spanish authorities are planning to deport Mohamed Benhlima, an Algerian asylum-seeker, whistleblower and anti-corruption activist, Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
“The Spanish authorities are deeply aware of the grim fate that awaits Mohamed Benhlima if they deport him. Over the last two years, the Algerian authorities have stepped up their brazen prosecution of activists as they seek to crush all forms of dissent.
“The international community has a moral responsibility to stand up for those who expose human rights violations and raise their voice against corruption. Spain must immediately quash its plans to deport Mohamed Benhlima and respect the principle of non-refoulement.
“Under international law, nobody should be returned to a country where they would be in danger of suffering torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Deporting Mohamed Benhlima would represent a serious violation of Spain’s obligations under international human rights law.”
Mohamed Benhlima is an Algerian citizen and a former military official turned whistleblower who exposed corruption among Algeria’s high-ranking military officials in 2019.
He fled to Spain in September 2019 after being informed that his name was on a list of wanted military officials after he participated in the Hirak protest movement. He has since sought asylum in both Spain and France.
On 7 January 2021, he was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison for sharing videos online that exposed corruption within the military.
Amnesty International has documented the use of torture and other ill-treatment by Algerian security forces in at least four cases of activists arrested over the past three years for their participation in the Hirak.
In a similar case, Spanish authorities extradited on 20 August 2021 former military official and asylum-seeker Mohmed Abdellah, who had sought refuge in Spain in November 2018 after he had publicly accused the Algerian military of corruption. Upon his extradition to Algeria, Mohmed Abdellah was taken directly to the “Antar” high security centre in Algiers. He remains in detention to date. During a court hearing on 2 January 2022, he publicly stated that he was subject to torture and ill-treatment in detention.
by Raymond Bonner
Source: Pro Publica
Date: October 7, 2021
Thirteen years ago, suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah filed a petition challenging the legality of his detention. In a Supreme Court hearing about state secrets, justices asked why federal courts have declined to rule on the case.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday waded into the case of Abu Zubaydah, a terrorism suspect whose request that the U.S. release him from Guantanamo Bay or charge him with a crime has languished without action for more than 13 years.
The court was hearing a case on another issue: Whether the U.S. government could cite “state secrets” to prevent Zubaydah’s lawyers from taking depositions from the CIA contractors who subjected Zubaydah to waterboarding and other methods of torture.
But several justices appeared baffled by a question ProPublica raised more than six years ago: Why have the federal courts declined to rule on the petition Zubaydah filed back in July 2008 challenging the legality of his detention?
The Supreme Court ruled in June of 2008 that Guantanamo detainees had a right to file what is known as a habeas corpus petition — the phrase is Latin for “you have the body.” Habeas actions require the government to go before a judge and either release the person it is holding or bring charges. Zubaydah’s lawyers have been trying without success to elicit a ruling ever since.
In their questions at Wednesday's oral arguments, the justices appeared unaware that Zubaydah’s plea for release has yet to be heard.
“Have you filed a habeas or something, get him out?” Chief Justice John Roberts wanted to know.
Yes, 14 years ago, replied Daniel F. Klein, Zubaydah’s lawyer.
That answer seemed to confound several of the justices.
“They don’t decide?” Justice Stephen Breyer asked. “You just let him sit there?”
“I don’t understand why he is still there after 14 years,” Breyer said later to the government counsel, Brian H. Fletcher.
Zubaydah’s lawyers filed a habeas action in 2008 — a month after the Supreme Court ruling that granted Guantanamo detainees that right — in federal court in Washington, D.C., and it was assigned to Judge Richard W. Roberts. Roberts made no substantive rulings in the years that followed and had failed to rule on any of the 16 motions by Zubaydah’s lawyers when he left the bench in 2016. The case was then assigned to Judge Emmet Sullivan, who has yet to rule on the petition.
The right of a detained person to file a habeas petition seeking release dates back to the Magna Carta, and the Supreme Court has said in other cases that it is meant to be a “swift and imperative remedy.”
Frustrated by the inaction in the case, Zubaydah’s lawyers filed what is known as a writ of mandamus with the federal appeals court in 2019 asking that the higher court order Sullivan to rule. It was a highly unusual move, as lawyers do not like to antagonize judges hearing their cases.
The appeals court denied the motion, but there has since been some movement in the case. Sullivan has issued a discovery order, requiring the CIA to turn over some documents to Zubaydah’s lawyers. Among them were Zubaydah’s medical records, which his lawyers have been seeking since 2009.
The documents that the CIA turned over were heavily redacted, and the agency has said that it will take as long as six years to complete its review of what can be made public.
Zubaydah, now 50 years old, has been in American custody since 2002, first held, and tortured, by the CIA interrogators at so-called black sites in Thailand and Poland, before being sent to Guantanamo, where he has been held since 2003. Those facts are not in dispute and have been described in a Senate report. Poland’s former president has acknowledged his country’s role in holding Zubaydah.
The case before the justices on Wednesday arose as a result of an ongoing Polish investigation into whether the country’s officials were complicit in the mistreatment of Zubaydah.
Zubaydah’s lawyers said they were prepared to assist that inquiry by taking depositions from James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the two psychologists who questioned Zubaydah while he was at the black site in Poland. Both were CIA contractors.
The Trump administration moved to bar any questioning of Mitchell and Jessen, saying official confirmation of where he was held would reveal a state secret.
Strikingly, justices frequently used the word “torture” to describe what happened to Zubaydah in Poland and at a black site in Thailand, rather than the euphemism preferred at the time by the Bush administration, “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
“The fact that he was tortured by these [CIA] contractors in Poland, that’s not a state secret?” Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Zubaydah’s lawyer at one point. She used the word “torture” several times in her questioning of both sides.
Justice Neil Gorsuch asked whether the government could avoid confirming any secrets if Zubaydah himself testified about how he was treated. This would sidestep the official confirmation that would arise from allowing the CIA contractors to describe what they had done.
Fletcher repeatedly refused to say whether the Biden administration would permit Zubaydah to give sworn testimony for use in the Polish case, prompting a pointed question from Gorsuch.
“I’d just really appreciate a straight answer to this. Will the government make Petitioner [Zubaydah] available to testify as to his treatment during these dates [when he was held in Poland]?” Gorsuch asked the government.
Fletcher said he couldn’t answer that.
Gorsuch wasn’t happy. “This case has been litigated for years and all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, and you haven’t considered whether that’s an off-ramp that — that the government could provide that would obviate the need for any of this?”
After a further dodge by the government lawyer, Gorsuch said again, “I personally would like a straight answer to that question.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined, “We want a clear answer, are you going to permit him to testify as to what happened to him those dates without invoking a state secret or other privilege? Yes, no. That’s all we’re looking for.”
Raymond Bonner is a regular contributor to ProPublica. He is producing a documentary with Alex Gibney about Abu Zubaydah and the CIA’s interrogation program called “The Forever Prisoner,” which is scheduled for release in December.
Algerian police said Monday that they had arrested 27 people suspected of belonging to a separatist group that Algiers considers a "terrorist" organization.
The individuals were arrested over the previous 48 hours in a case involving "undermining national unity, harming public order and inciting a gathering", on suspicion of belonging to the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie (MAK), authorities said in a statement.
It said 25 people were arrested in Kherrata, which last week saw clashes between protesters and police after a march in support of prisoners of conscience was banned.
AFP quoted the statement as saying that security forces were wounded during the clashes in the town, which is located in the traditionally restive northeastern Kabylie region.
Two other people were arrested in an area around 60 kilometers away, according to the statement.
Items including "military clothing, bladed weapons" and MAK material were found in the individuals' homes, it added.
The suspects were trying to "sow strife and fear among citizens and re-activate sleeper cells of this terrorist organization, on the order of foreign parties", the statement said.
Algeria's Human Rights League (LADDH) on Sunday had called for the release of more than 20 people who it said had been arrested.
Separately, the LADDH said that authorities had arrested "journalist and human rights defender Hassan Bouras" on Monday and searched his home in northwestern El Bayadh.
It said it did not know the reason for Bouras's arrest.
Bouras, who is also a LADDH member, had been sentenced to a year in prison in 2016 for "insulting a judge, a public forces member and a government body".
Rights group Amnesty International at the time called Bouras a "prisoner of conscience" and said he had been sentenced "for a video denouncing corruption of local officials in the city of El Bayadh".
According to prisoners' rights group CNLD, around 200 people are in jail in connection with the Hirak pro-democracy protest movement that has shaken the country sporadically since 2019, or over individual freedoms.
by Subhah Wadhawan
Source: Sage Journals
Racialization, surveillance, and securitization may be distinct theoretical concepts, but they are nevertheless significantly intertwined. Race, as a mode of thinking and governance, largely informs the practices of securitization, whereby surveilling racialized bodies is an immanent task of the securitization process. To demonstrate this relationship, I interviewed three of the men from the infamous Canadian “Secret Trial 5” Security Certificate cases and their family members. I investigate their lived experiences of home imprisonment, examining how their home became a key site for the operation and deployment of racialized surveillance. Their experiences illustrate how surveillance emerges as a practice of securitization, where racialized “Others” are reaffirmed as threats to and subjects of unfettered surveillance practices. As the only research endeavor to interview Canada’s security certificate detainees and their families, this article demonstrates how securitization materializes through the transformation of the home into a prison; this is achieved through the imposition of carceral practices and a penal architecture within the home and through eroding belonging and safety for the people living under this type of regime. Moreover, given that most studies focusing on the experiences of securitization are restricted to the experiences of the incarcerated individuals, these studies often exclude, and by extension, silence the voices of the families also touched by these processes. Thus, this article illuminates that, albeit, in different magnitudes, families also undergo the pains of imprisonment.
by Euro Med Monitor
Source: Scoop World
Date: June 27, 2021
Geneva - The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor called on the governments of Arab countries to stop all forms of torture against prisoners and detainees, stressing that most governments and conflicting parties in the Middle East and North Africa, especially the Syrian regime, use torture as a systematic policy inside prisons and detention centers.
Most governments in the Arab region widely practice torture, amid near absence of effective accountability and oversight mechanisms, and they sometimes cover up these illegal practices, said the Geneva-based Euro-Med Monitor in a report issued on Saturday morning on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
The Euro-Med Monitor report, entitled “I can’t bear it anymore” highlighted the methods and forms of torture in the Arab region, based on 32 testimonies of former detainees and families of current detainees in several countries where torture practices were documented.
Based on 32 testimonies of former detainees and families of current detainees, the Euro-Med Monitor report, entitled “I Can’t take it anymore”, highlighted the methods and forms of torture practiced in different countries of the Arab region.
It documented torture practices in nine Middle Eastern countries; Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE, Israel and the Palestinian territories, in addition to five others in North Africa; Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Sudan.
Some countries that suffer from internal conflicts, such as Syria, witness widespread torture practices among all parties to the conflict with each taking their part in responsibility.
Torture practices are common in countries that witness internal conflicts, such as Syria, said the report, adding that conflicting parties are all disproportionately responsible.
Euro-Med Monitor pointed out that impunity for torture perpetrators is a huge challenge. Although most Arab countries have agreed to international standards for investigation, prosecution and accountability of torture and ill-treatment, the number of torture prosecutions in the region does not reflect the actual number of torture cases, since investigations related to torture cases are mostly sham, and therefore their results are ultimately ineffective because most of these violations were committed under the cover of the ruling authority.
There are different methods of torture, including physical torture; such as beating, slapping, kicking, suspension, electrocution, and waterboarding, sexual torture; such as rape, rape threats and sexual insults, and psychological torture; such as deprivation of sleep or solitary confinement for long hours.
Nine out of ten allegations of torture and ill-treatment that were formally submitted to governments around the world are ignored, with some countries not even responding in a manner that allows effective prevention or investigation of the violation in question, said Nils Melzer, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
According to a report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Syria recorded the highest number of torture victims from March 2011 to June 2021, with at least 14,537 people, including 180 children and 92 women, killed due to torture practiced by the conflicting parties. 14,338 people were killed only by the Syrian regime forces.
“Most Arab countries prohibit torture in theory, but it is a cornerstone of their repressive system and is used frequently against their political opponents or human rights defenders,” said Anas Jerjawi, Euro-Med Monitor’s Chief Operations Officer.
“International policies towards torture perpetrators should be more stringent. This includes imposing sanctions on countries involved in torture practices, and activating the UN’s oversight mechanisms in prisons and detention centers in said countries.” Jerjawi added.
Euro-Med Monitor report recommended that countries and conflicting parties in the Arab region stop all forms of torture against detainees and prisoners, and train officials to apply international standards in prisons and detention centers.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor urged the concerned parties to stop providing immunity for perpetrators of torture, especially to investigation officers, or individuals affiliated with the armed forces in general or in conflict zones under the pretext that it is an emergency, terrorism, or matters that threatens national security. It called them on to investigate all complaints of torture to limit it, thus putting an end to it.
It also called on Arab countries to take all measures necessary to amend or adopt new national legislation that includes clear criminalization of torture, in line with the definition of torture included in Article 1 of the Convention against Torture.
Source: The North Africa Post
Date: June 21, 2021
Morocco and the US ended the 2021 African Lion drills on June 17 with tactical exercises using live ammunition to improve interoperability of the participating armies near Tan Tan.
The last segment of the African Lion drills focused on honing the combat preparedness and responsiveness of Moroccan and US artilleries.
A key part of the closing of the exercise featured the deployment in the air of the U.S. Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft from the 31st Fighter Wing and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft which flew alongside Moroccan F-16s demonstrating partnership and capability to execute combined operations.
“The arrival of fighters and tankers adds another level to this already dynamic exercise,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander. “Every flight brings another opportunity to work closely with our partners and exchange best practices so we can better pursue our shared goals.”
Both air forces trained on refueling missions for the F-16Cs in a simulation of combat environment in Guelmim.
Pilots, enabled by Moroccan logistics and sustainment teams, flew the aircraft through a close air support training range before flying to Guelmim Airfield to practice the delivery of weapons and air support, delivering seven 500lb laser-guided weapons.
The maritime portion of the exercise, led by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, includes a naval gunfire exercise, multiple sea-based maneuvers, and crisis response capabilities.
More than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO train together with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces. AL21 is a multi-domain, multi-component, and multi-national exercise, which employs a full array of mission capabilities with the goal of strengthening interoperability among participants.
Besides Morocco and the US, The African Lion brings together armies of allied countries such as the UK, Canada, Brazil, Tunisia, Senegal, the Netherlands and Italy, as well as the Atlantic Alliance. Military observers from some 30 countries representing Africa, Europe and America attend the exercise, which is the largest in Africa.
This year’s drills were held in multiple locations in Morocco, including in Mahbes, about 40 kilometers from the rear base of the Algeria-based Polisario separatist militias. Mahbes was also the scene of a paratrooper deployment in an exercise that tests rapid reaction and mobilization.
The drills also cover combatting violent terrorist organizations as well as land, airborne, air, maritime and nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical decontamination exercises.
by Jasper Hamann
Source: Morocco World News
Date: June 12, 2021
Upcoming changes in the Algerian penal code will allow its regime to charge journalists and critics as terrorists.
Rabat - Algeria is expanding its Terrorism Act to the extent that it will be able to prosecute its critics and journalists on terrorism charges. An update was published on June 10 that indicates that Algeria’s unpopular regime is broadening the definition of terrorism to include charges commonly levied against journalists, anti-establishment protesters, and even online critics.
Ahead of a weekend of legislative elections, the move appears to constitute another increase in repressive measures by Algeria's ruling elite in the face of domestic opposition and calls for structural reform.
The revisions to the penal code were initiated by the country’s embattled leadership and was discussed and adopted in one session of the country’s Council of Ministers on May 30. Officials in Algiers have indicated that the revised penal code intends to strengthen efforts to combat terrorism, by estbalishing a list of “terrorist people and organizations.”
How the upcoming terrorist “black list”would help combat terrorism, few could explain.
A closer examination of the changes made to the penal code reveals a broad expansion of what the state considers terrorism. While the broadening of the term is indeed likely to lead to increased arrests on terrorism charges, the penal code revisions have no provisions that would actually arrest more extremists.
Instead, the new penal code now considers "any act aimed at the security of the state, national unity and the stability and normal functioning of institutions,” as a terrorist act.
This expansion is likely to concern journalist, Hirak protesters and government critics, as the terms defined as “terrorism” are the exact charges commonly used to arrest whomever the regime considers to be a critic.
The new penal code furthermore acts as an active deterrent to political change in Algeria. Algiers will now consider any action “to work or incite, by any means whatsoever, to gain power or to change the system of governance by non-constitutional means" as an act of terrorism.
The vast broadening of Algeria’s penal code is likely to result in its new “black list” being leveraged as a tool to scare critics and reporters into silence, in fear of being listed as a terrorist. Furthermore it will allow the regular prosecution of the country’s journalists to now be done under the guise of “combatting terrorism.”
Several of the charges described as terrorist acts have before been used to silence and imprison government critics, from established journalists such as Khaled Drareni (who was arrested again this week) to every-day citizens voicing their frustrations on social media.
Source: The Tennessee Tribune/Zenger News
Date: March 16, 2021
A call by the United Nations for Algeria’s government to investigate allegations of human rights abuses, including torture, arbitrary arrest and sexual assault, has so far gone unanswered.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on March 5 urged Algeria to launch “a quick, impartial and rigorous investigation” into allegations of severe human rights abuses against pro-democracy demonstrators.
Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the office of the high commissioner, said there were “credible reports” of torture by security forces, and that the United Nations was very concerned about deteriorating conditions in the country.
Thousands of Algerians have been taking part in demonstrations, known as Hirak, calling for a change in government and an end to the military’s control of political affairs. The demonstrations, which began in February 2019, resumed earlier this year after a hiatus due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“We are deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Algeria and the continued and growing repression of members of the pro-democracy Hirak movement,” Colville said.
He said hundreds of demonstrators have been prosecuted and at least 32 are currently detained. Some detainees were also arrested for posting messages on social media that criticized the government. Some have received long prison sentences for their part in pro-democracy activities.
PHOTO: A student protester who was beaten by police during a peaceful demonstration in March 2020 in Algiers.
The OHCHR said it was calling for an end to the violent repression, arrests and detentions. It also requested that Algeria give “immediate and unconditional release” to pro-democracy demonstrators and drop all charges against them.
Support for Algeria’s pro-democracy movement has come from the Algerian diaspora in France and Canada. Many in the diaspora have filed complaints and cases with the United Nations, denouncing the torture and human rights violations.
PHOTO: This image of Walid Nekkiche includes a statement about his claims of torture while in detention.
Among the cases brought to the attention of the OHCHR is that of Walid Nekkiche, a 25-year-old student who was allegedly raped with a broomstick by security forces while in custody. Nekkiche was released after charges of conspiracy against the state were dropped.
Another case before the OHCHR is that of activist Sami Darnouni, who has been in custody since December 2020. He was sentenced on March 2 to two years in prison on charges of undermining national security and incitement.
His lawyers deny the charges and say that Darnouni was “forced to confess under torture” during his interrogation at the Antar barracks. They said he was stripped, beaten and tortured with electric rods at the barracks in Ben Aknoun in Algiers, where he was transported after his arrest in Tipaza in northwest Algiers.
“The accusations against him are completely false and unjust,” said his lawyer, Haboul Abdellah. “There is no evidence of Mr. Darnouni’s involvement in any crime.”
When Darnouni’s trial began on Feb. 26, the prosecutor’s office of the Court of Tipaza requested that he be given a 10-year prison sentence.
The OHCHR has highlighted Darnouni’s case and that of at least 2,500 others who were arrested or detained during peaceful demonstrations as evidence of the use of excessive force by Algerian security forces.
Criminal proceedings initiated in 2019 and 2020 are continuing against activists, human rights defenders, students, journalists, bloggers and other citizens, the United Nations agency said.
The agency wants Algerian authorities to repeal the country’s laws under which protesters can be prosecuted for expressing negative opinions about the government or assembling peacefully to protest.
Meanwhile, harsh repression of Hirak demonstrations continues, with reports of elderly Algerians being beaten and of a 7-year-old child being picked up by police in the past week.
(Edited by Jewel Carmella Fraser and Judith Isacoff)
Source: The North Africa Post URL: [link] Date: March 8, 2021
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has officially called on the Algerian authorities to conduct “prompt and impartial investigations” into the allegations of torture and sexual abuse suffered by several inmates arrested during the Hirak who openly denounced the ill-treatment inflicted on them by the security services while in police custody.
Rupert Colville, Spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, officially called on the Algerian authorities to “prompt and impartial investigations” into the allegations of torture and sexual abuse made by several detainees in the country. Hirak who openly denounced the ill-treatment inflicted by the security services while in police custody.
In a statement posted Friday on the website of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Spokesman Rupert Colville said the UN body has instructed the Algerian regime to “conduct rapid, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment in detention.”
Rupert Colville also demanded that the Algerian authorities “hold to account all those responsible” for these infamous practices of torture “and to ensure that the victims have access to reparations.”
“We urge the authorities to repeal the legal provisions and policies used to prosecute people who exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression and peaceful assembly,” said Rupert Colville.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also brought up the issue of prisoners of conscience. The UN body called for the release of all those imprisoned for their political opinions and activities in favor of Hirak.
“We urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those arbitrarily arrested or detained for allegedly supporting the Hirak and to drop all charges against them,” Rupert Colville stated.
The UN body also denounced the resort to excessive force by Algerian security forces to suppress the peaceful demonstrations.
“There have been numerous instances across the country where security forces have used unnecessary or excessive force and arbitrary arrests to suppress peaceful demonstrations,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said.
“These developments echoed what happened earlier in 2019 and 2020, during which a total of at least 2,500 people were arrested or detained in connection with their peaceful activism,” he said.
“Similarly, the criminal prosecution in 2019 and 2020 of activists, human rights defenders, students, journalists, bloggers and ordinary citizens expressing dissent continued during the first two months of this year,” he added.
Since mid-February, thousands of Algerians have defied Covid-19 restrictions and took to the streets of Algiers and other cities across the country to commemorate the second anniversary of the Hirak movement and renew their demands for the end of the military junta rule and the establishment of a civilian democratic state.
Click on the photo of Mohamed to see all items related to him. JUNE 2017: Mohamed Harkat once again faces deportation to his native Algeria after the Supreme Court of Canada declared the federal government’s security certificate regime constitutional.
This fight is not over. The Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee will re-double its efforts to see that justice is done for Mohamed Harkat and that the odious security certificate system of injustice is abolished once and for all.
Here is the contact information for Sophie Harkat.
Email Sophie: [email]
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Our Legal Team:
Barbara Jackman, Lead Public Counsel for Mohamed Harkat
Jackman, Nazami & Associates
Barristers and Solicitors
596 St. Clair Avenue West
Tel.: (416) 653-9964
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Christian Legeais, spokesperson and bilingual media contact: