Amnesty International has denounced the Algerian authorities’ decision to shut down the offices of two prominent women’s rights organizations, FARD (Femmes Algériennes Revendiquantleurs Droits) and AFEPEC (Association Féministe pourl’Épanouissement de la Personne et l’Exercice de la Citoyenneté).
“The targeting of these women’s groups is a shameless attack on the right to freedom of association and participation. This is just another example of the disturbing recent clampdown on civil society organizations by the Algerian authorities that must stop now”, AI North Africa Campaigns Director Najia Bounaim was quoted as saying in an AI press release.
“Both organizations must be allowed to resume operations immediately and without fear of reprisal. Such tactics are reminiscent of a by-gone era and are contrary to Algeria’s obligations under international law”, she adds.
For Amnesty international, the right to freedom of association is essential in a robust and dynamic society. Instead of seeking to further restrict human rights, “the Algerian authorities must work on repealing laws and practices that are further shrinking the space for civil society and ensure that human rights defenders are able to work in a safe and enabling environment”, stresses Director of Amnesty International in North Africa.
The press release recalled that on February 27, Algerian security forces in the city of Oran sealed off the offices of the two local NGOs, FARD and AFEPEC, following an order from the office of the Governorate of Oran, without any notice. The authorities justified the shutdown by disputing the legal registration of the NGOs. However, both organizations have submitted a new registration request to operate legally under the highly restrictive Law 12-06.
FARD received the receipt of registration in March 2014 from the Governorate of Oran, while AFEPEC has yet to receive a response from local authorities. Both organizations have been in operation since the 90s.
In its latest annual report on the state of human rights in the world, AI decried the continued restrictions imposed by Algerian authorities on the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and religion.
It condemned the prosecution in Algeria of peaceful critics, including human rights defenders, in unfair trials, and the forced closure of media outlets.