Source: FIDH Web Site
Date: November 25, 2023
Ahead of UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor’s visit to Algeria from November 26 to December 5, 12 NGOs, including FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) within the framework of the Observatory, express alarm about the erosion of the human rights situation and the systematic crackdown against human rights defenders. We call on Ms. Lawlor to pay attention to the risks of harassment and intimidation faced by defenders she may meet during the visit. Currently, over 230 human rights defenders and journalists languish behind bars, victims of a relentless crackdown on fundamental rights.
The Algerian authorities should end their crackdown on fundamental rights and freedoms and release all human rights defenders and activists who unjustly languish in jail, said 12 NGOs today, ahead of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders’ visit to Algeria, from 26 November to 5 December. The visit comes amid a dire human rights situation, with over 230 activists, journalists and human rights defenders currently imprisoned solely for exercising their rights to freedom of speech, association and peaceful assembly. The mandate of Special Rapporteur, Mary Lawlor, includes reporting on the situation of human rights defenders, broadly defined as ‘all persons, who individually or in association with others, act to promote or protect human rights peacefully.’
It will be of utmost importance for the Special Rapporteur to pay particular attention to the risk of harassment and intimidation of civil society activists she may meet during her visit to Algeria. We draw the attention of the Special Rapporteur to a possible case of reprisals against Ahmed Manseri, the President of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (Ligue algérienne pour la défense des droits de l’Homme, LADDH) in Tiaret. He was arrested on 8 October 2023 and sentenced to one year in prison under spurious charges of disseminating documents that harm the national interest, incitement to unarmed assembly, and attack on the integrity of the national territory. On 17 September 2023, Manseri met with the UN special rapporteur on freedom of association and peaceful assembly, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, during his visit to Algeria from 16 to 26 September 2023. The signatory organizations call on the Algerian authorities to refrain from any acts of reprisal aimed at punishing or intimidating human rights defenders.
Over the past two years, Algerian authorities have shut down almost all spaces for dissent. They have dismantled most independent civil society groups that were created to defend human rights, and have shuttered the remaining media outlets that represent voices of resistance in the face of the prevailing authoritarianism in the country. Prominent associations such as the LADDH and the Youth Action Rally (Rassemblement Actions Jeunesse, RAJ), created in 1989 and 1992 respectively, have been dissolved by the administrative tribunal merely for activities that are inherent to their mandate, such as hosting conferences critical of the authorities, meeting with foreign activists, or defending minority rights. Authorities have often relied on vague and broadly worded laws to curtail the ability of human rights defenders to operate freely. For example, a tribunal in Algiers sentenced Nacer Meghnine, the president of the association SOS Bab el-Oued, to one year in prison for ‘undermining national interest’ after they found publications in the premises of the association denouncing repression, arbitrary arrests and torture.
Co-Signatories1. Action Détenus
2. Agir pour le changement et la démocratie en Algérie (ACDA)
3. Association Tharwa n’Fadhma n’Soumer
4. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
5. Collectif des Familles de Disparu.e.s en Algérie 6. Comité de Sauvegarde de la Ligue Algérienne de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (Safeguard Committee of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights)
7. EuroMed Rights
8. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
9. Mena Rights Group
10. Riposte internationale
11. SOS Disparus
12. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Members Organizations - Algeria1. Collectif des Familles de Disparu(e)s en Algérie (CFDA)
2. Ligue Algérienne de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (LADDH)
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