Amnesty International denounced on Thursday the conviction of Algerian activist, Hadj Ghermoul, to six months in prison and a fine for posting a Facebook photo showing him holding a placard opposing a fifth term in office for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
“The conviction of Hadj Ghermoul is a severe blow for freedom of expression in Algeria. It is completely absurd that he is facing six months behind bars simply for peacefully expressing his political views”, said Amnesty’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa Heba Morayef.
“His arrest and conviction are another signal of the Algerian authorities’ intolerance of political opposition and a worrying sign that they are stepping up arbitrary arrests and detentions ahead of the country’s presidential elections in April”, underlined AI.
It called on the Algerian authorities to cancel Hadj Ghermoul’s conviction and release him immediately and unconditionally.
Hadj Ghermoul is member of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) and member of the National Committee for the Defense of the Rights of the Unemployed (CNDDC).
In its latest annual report on the situation 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.