Calling for the end of the crackdown on fundamental freedoms in Algeria

July 04, 2024

On 1 July 2024, during the 56th session of the Human Rights Council, professor Mouloud Boumghar delivered a joint statement on behalf of 14 organisations during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. He addressed the crackdown on fundamental freedoms by the Algerian authorities and called them to repeal repressive laws.

Professor Mouloud Boumghar addresses the UN Human Rights Council - 1 July 2024 © Courtesy of Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

The statement was delivered following the presentation of the report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly addressing the Algerian government’s criminalisation of the work of civil society, the suspension of political parties and associations, as well as the misuse of counter-terrorism legislation to curtail fundamental freedoms. This follows an official visit conducted by the mandate in September 2023.

Watch the statement here.

The undersigned organisations are alarmed at the level of self-censorship and at the risk of reprisals individuals face for engaging with the UN and its mechanisms. Human rights defender Ahmed Manseri was put in pre-trial detention following a meeting with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly. While the Algerian diplomat refuted, during the interactive dialogue, that his prosecution was linked to meeting the Special Rapporteur, a picture of Manseri meeting the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly was included in his case file. The Special Rapporteur also reported that activists told him that they were not willing to meet him in person as they feared they could be subject to reprisals by authorities for ‘undermining national security’.

Civil society organisations continue to call on the Council to address the sustained repression against the pro-democracy movement and human rights defenders in Algeria, including ahead of the elections which are scheduled to take place in September 2024.

The full text of the statement can be read below.

Dear President, dear Special Rapporteur,

My name is Mouloud Boumghar, I am a law professor and active member of Algerian civil society. This statement is made on behalf of 14 Algerian and international organisations.

Nine months after the Special Rapporteur’s visit in September 2023, and also following the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in November 2023the Algerian authorities continue to clamp down on civic space and silence dissenting voices thanks to a particularly repressive legislative arsenal, such as article 87 bis of the Penal Code, used to criminalise peaceful activism as a terrorist crime.

Added to this are the arbitrary dissolutions of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) and the Rassemblement Action Jeunesse (RAJ) – two leading associations. Authorities also suspended two political parties – the Socialist Workers’ Party (PST) and the Democratic and Social Movement (MDS).

Public meetings and peaceful demonstrations continue to be subject to several restrictive provisions of Law 91-19 and the penal code, which add to the obstructions by the authorities in practice, making the exercise of these rights extremely difficult.

Journalists and the media are also targeted, as illustrated by the sentencing of journalist Ihsan El Kadi to seven years of prison in June 2023. According to a count by lawyers and human rights defenders, more than 200 people are detained for expressing a dissenting opinion. More and more of the Algerian civil society organisations and activists that I represent today are sharing the feeling of an atmosphere of terror. The Special Rapporteur rightfully highlighted the high risk of reprisals for people who communicate with UN mechanisms and the resulting self-censorship.

This highly restrictive civic space quashes much of the scope for the exercise of the human rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association and public participation, ahead of presidential elections planned in September.

We join the mandate’s recommendations and call on Algerian authorities to repeal or revise repressive legal provisions, to unconditionally release arbitrary detainees, and to guarantee the independence of the judiciary.

Thank you for your attention.

This oral statement is supported by:

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  2. Collectif des familles de Disparus en Algérie (CFDA)
  3. Euromed Rights
  4. Forum de solidarité euro-méditerranéenne (Forsem)
  6. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  7. Libertés Algérie
  8. MENA Rights Group
  9. Safeguarding Committee of the Algerian League for the defense of Human Rights (LADDH)
  10. Human Rights Watch
  11. Riposte Internationale
  12. Tharwa N Fadhma N’ Soumeur
  13. The Justitia Center for the Legal Protection of Human Rights in Algeria
  14. ARTICLE 19

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