International

Algeria: 27 Suspected Members of Separatist Group Arrested

posted on September 10, 2021 | in Category International | PermaLink

Source: Asharq Al-Awsat
URL: [link]
Date: Deptember 7, 2021

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.

Kherrata is seen as the cradle of the protests.

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Algerian human rights activist detained: family

posted on June 22, 2021 | in Category International | PermaLink

by The New Arab Staff and Agencies
Source: The New Arab
URL: [link]
Date: June 21, 2021

Algerian human rights activist Fatiha Briki has been detained with official reason given for her arrest, according to her family and a prisoners' rights group.

Algerian human rights activist Fatiha Briki has been detained by authorities and no official reason has been given for her arrest, her family and a prisoners' rights group said Monday.

Briki, a retired university teacher and a member of prisoners' rights group CNLD, was arrested on Thursday and her home searched, according to the CNLD.

"I believe that her work on behalf of detainees is the root cause for her arrest," Said Salhi, vice-president of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH), said.

Authorities have not commented on the arrest of Briki, who is also a member of an anti-torture association.

Her family called for her "immediate release" in a statement, and said they tried but were prevented from visiting her on Sunday at her place of detention.

"Fatiha is well both physically and psychologically. Her place is not in prison," the statement added.

Briki took part in the weekly anti-government protests organised by the Hirak movement, until such rallies were banned by the interior ministry ahead of the June 12 parliamentary election.

The vote, which was won by Algeria's long-dominant National Liberation Front, was boycotted by the Hirak and saw a record low turnout of 23 percent.

Ahead of the election, authorities had arrested a string of opposition figures, activists, journalists and lawyers, although some were quickly released with no reason given for their detention.

At least 260 people connected to the protest movement or other organisations pressing for more rights are currently in detention in Algeria, according to the CNLD.

© 2021 The New Arab


Algeria Prepares To Prosecute Journalists, Critics As Terrorists

posted on June 22, 2021 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Jasper Hamann
Source: Morocco World News
URL: [link]
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.

© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


United Nations Urges Algeria To Investigate ‘Credible Reports’ Of Torture

posted on March 19, 2021 | in Category International | PermaLink

Source: The Tennessee Tribune/Zenger News
URL: [link]
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)

The Tennessee Tribune. Copyright © 2020.


Algeria: UN calls for impartial, rapid investigations in claims of sexual abuse, torture against Hirak activists

posted on March 11, 2021 | in Category International | PermaLink

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.

© 2021 The North Africa Post .

Algeria: civil society mobilizes against torture practiced by security services

posted on February 23, 2021 | in Category International | PermaLink

Source: The North Africa Post
Date: February 14, 2021

Algerian NGOs have announced Saturday in Algiers the setting up of a committee to fight torture and violence suffered by prisoners of conscience, after accusations of rape shocked the public opinion.

The testimony in early February of Walid Nekiche, a 25-year-old pro-democracy activist, who claims to have been tortured and sexually assaulted by members of the security services, triggered indignation and forced the general prosecutor of the Court of Algiers to open an investigation.

In reaction, several associations decided to set up a “Committee to fight torture and inhuman prison conditions of detainees in Algeria”, so that “justice is rendered.”

The new body brings together the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD), the National Coordination of Algerian Academics for Change and the Collective of lawyers for the defense of prisoners of conscience.

“By revealing in front of magistrates the abuse he was subjected to, Walid Nekkiche broke the omerta. He showed an exemplary courage,” said representatives of the anti-torture collective at a press conference in Algiers, reported AFP.

Walid Nekiche was arrested on November 26, 2019, for participation in an anti-regime demonstration, known as Hirak. The student, who was placed in pre-trial detention for 15 months, revealed during his trial on February 1 that he had been physically and verbally assaulted, tortured and raped during questioning carried out by elements of the Algerian security services, at the “Antar center”, a barracks on the outskirts of Algiers, notorious for such practices by the security services.

“They tortured me. They sexually assaulted me. They took away my dignity.” It was in these three sentences that Walid Nekiche broke the omerta in a court in eastern Algeria, bringing back to minds the specter of torture in the North African country.

“His rape is our rape, all of us as a people, civil society, activists. It must not go unpunished,” journalist Zoheïr Aberkane, member of the newly created committee, was quoted by AFP as saying.

“We have filed a complaint and we are asking the courts to intervene according to Algerian and international laws”, another member of the committee, lawyer Nacera Hadouche, said.

“The preliminary investigation by the prosecution must not be yet another subterfuge to calm anger and indignation” and “places of torture such as the ‘Antar barracks’ must be banned”, the committee demands.

According to the committee, “the conditions of arrest, incarceration and detention of detainees reported by lawyers confirm cases of ill-treatment, violence and torture in various police structures and security services, as well as in prisons.”

The case of Walid Nekiche was also referred to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights by Riposte Internationale, a NGO for the defense of human rights.

Meanwhile, Communication Minister Ammar Belhimer continues to claim that “there are no prisoners of conscience in Algeria,” while the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD) affirms that more than 70 people have been arrested for participating in the Hirak movement and are currently in illegal pre-trial detention.

Walid Nekiche’s case broke out in a context of tension for the regime as the second anniversary of the “Hirak” is nearing. The Hirak for regime change started on February 22, 2019 and prompted two months later the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

© 2021 The North Africa Post.


Algerian rights groups demand investigations into rape and torture in custody allegations

posted on February 23, 2021 | in Category International | PermaLink

Source: MorningStar
URL: [link]
Date: February 14, 2021

Algerian rights organisations and lawyers have formed a new coalition demanding investigations into allegations of rape and torture of opposition supporters held in custody.

The National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD), the National Co-ordination of Algerian Academics for Change and the Collective of Lawyers for the Defence of Prisoners of Conscience announced the committee on Saturday after Walid Nekkiche claimed he was beaten and raped by security forces earlier this month.

The 25-year-old student was detained in November during a march by students as part of the anti-government protest movement known as the Hirak, which marks its second anniversary on February 22.

The CNLD estimates that more than 70 people are currently imprisoned in Algeria in connection with the protests.

“If today we ask for a trial, it is a fair trial: the torturers have not been directly condemned, we have filed a complaint, we have told the justice system to intervene according to domestic and international laws,” Algerian lawyer Nacera Hadouche said.

Journalist Zoheir Aberkane said: “What shocked us is that when Walid Nekkiche is abused, we are all abused, as a people, as civil society, as activists, as citizens, etc. And that, in my opinion, should not go unpunished.”

(c) Copyright Morningstar Online. All rights reserved.


Algerian NGOs create committee to protect prisoners after rape claims

posted on February 23, 2021 | in Category International | PermaLink

by Afia Owusu
Source: Ghana Crusader
URL: [link]
Date: February 15, 2021

Rights groups in Algeria have created a new committee to fight against abuse of prisoners after claims by 25-year-old protester Walid Nekkiche who was beaten and raped by security forces while in custody.

The committee says it will fight against what they call out as torture and inhuman prison conditions.

“What shocked us is that when Walid Nekkiche is abused, we are all abused, as a people, as civil society, as activists, as citizens, etc. And that, in my opinion, should not go unpunished,” said Algerian journalist Zoheir Aberkane.

The committee is made up of the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD), the National Coordination of Algerian Academics for Change and the Collective of lawyers for the defense of prisoner of conscience.

The CNLD estimates more than 70 people are currently imprisoned in Algeria in connection with the Hirak protests or for individual freedoms.

“If today we ask for a trial, it is a fair trial: the torturers have not been directly condemned, we have filed a complaint, we have told the justice system to intervene according to domestic and international laws,” said Algerian lawyer Nacéra Hadouche.

Nekkiche, a student, was arrested in November during a march by students of the anti-government Hirak protest movement.

The second anniversary of the Hirak is on February 22.

The movement forced the resignation of President Bouteflika but they still protest against the government to this day.

Copyright © Ghanacrusader 2021.


Outrage after the testimony of a “tortured” student

posted on February 12, 2021 | in Category International | PermaLink

Source: PiratePress.org
URL: [link]
Date: February 7, 2021

The testimony of a young Algerian democracy student who claims to have been tortured by members of the security services sparked indignation in Algeria for several days.

“I lived through hell,” said 25-year-old Walid Nekkiche, who was recently released after more than a year in prison in the French-language daily Liberté. “I went through a lot during those fourteen months in prison, and especially the six days I spent in the Ben Aknoun barracks,” known as the Antar Center in Algiers, testifies to the student at the Higher Institute of Sciences of the Sea and Regional Planning (Ismal).

“There was a lot of pressure on me. After this long and excruciating passage in this eerie place, I was introduced to the examining magistrate of the court of Bab El-Oued (north of Algiers) before I was imprisoned in El Harrach prison.” he added.

Sentenced to six months in prison

The young man was released Wednesday after being sentenced to six months in prison for “distributing and possessing leaflets in order to harm the interest of the country”. The prosecutor of the Dar El Beida court in Algiers on Monday requested a life sentence against the student, who was charged with “conspiracy against the state”, “attacking the integrity of the national territory” and “inciting the population to take up arms” very much serious charges under Algerian law.

Tizi Ouzou, a native of Kabylia, was accused of belonging to the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylia, an illegal separatist organization, according to Algerian media. “Fortunately, I did not collapse because I was confident that the lawyers were determined and well equipped to bring the false charges against me. I had to hold on for my parents,” said Walid. Nekkiche from Liberty.

I was attacked sexually, physically and verbally

During the trial on Monday, the student said he was “sexually, physically and verbally assaulted by security services during his interrogation.”

The discovery of this abuse sparked outrage and received extensive commentary on some media and social networks, with calls for an investigation increasing. Authorities have not commented.

“We asked for an independent investigation and a judicial investigation to be opened to determine who was responsible,” said Said Salhi, vice-president of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights.

The request follows “serious statements” made by Walid Nekkiche during his trial in which he alleged “he was tortured in police custody,” Salhi said. According to him, the student’s attorney filed a complaint in July but “there was no follow-up”.

In a joint statement, the National Committee for the Liberation of Prisoners (CNLD) and the National Coordination of Algerian Academics for Change condemned “torture” and “normalization of violence, which in Algeria are reaching alarming proportions”.

Walid Nekkiche was arrested on November 26, 2019 in Algiers during a weekly march by students of the anti-regime protest movement “Hirak”, born in February 2019.

His co-defendant Kamel Bensaad (43) was acquitted. According to the CNLD, around 80 people are currently detained in Algeria in connection with the “Hirak” protests and / or individual freedoms. In at least 90% of cases, law enforcement is based on publications on social networks that are critical of the authorities.

Copyright Pirate Press ©. All rights reserved.


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


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