Algeria: UN Human Rights expert’s visit makes ruling junta very nervous

Algeria: UN Human Rights expert’s visit makes ruling junta very nervous

UN Special Rapporteur for human rights defenders Mary Lawlor starts this Sunday a ten-day visit to Algeria to urge local authorities to respect freedom of speech and stop human rights violations.

On this occasion, 12 NGOs, including the World Organization against Torture (OMCT), called on Ms. Lawlor to focus on the harassment and intimidation campaign targeting human rights defenders as hundreds of militants and journalists have been tossed in jails solely for exercising their rights to freedom of speech, association, and peaceful assembly.

They also expressed alarm about the erosion of the human rights situation in Algeria and the systematic crackdown against human rights defenders.

They cited the case of reprisals against Ahmed Manseri, 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 September 16 – 26.

The NGOs called on the Algerian regime to refrain from any acts of reprisal aimed at punishing or intimidating human rights defenders. Over the past two years, the Algerian repressive regime has shut down almost all spaces for dissent.

The Algerian authorities 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.

Furthermore, Nacer Meghnine, the president of the association SOS Bab el-Oued, was sentenced to one year in prison after police found publications in the premises of the association denouncing repression, arbitrary arrests, and torture.

Several human rights defenders have been forced to flee the country due to constant intimidation, harassment, prosecution and arbitrary detention for speaking up against repression.

During her visit to Algeria, Ms. Lawlor will meet with government officials, the National Human Rights Council, members of civil society, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, academics, and other relevant stakeholders.

The Special Rapporteur will also hold meetings with the UN country team and representatives of diplomatic missions.


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