UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS: Press briefing notes on Algeria
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Date: 11 May 2021
We are increasingly concerned about the situation in Algeria where the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and participation in public affairs continue to be under attack.
Since the resumption of demonstrations in the streets of Algeria on 13 February 2021 – after a year of protests held online by the Hirak movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic – we have received sustained reports of unnecessary and disproportionate force against peaceful protesters, as well as continuing arrests.
On four occasions in April and May, student marches were prevented. Authorities have continued to block access to meeting points for demonstrations; hundreds of protesters or anyone alleged by security forces to be a demonstrator are being arbitrarily arrested. Some protestors were reportedly detained and later released after being forced to sign a document promising to cease participating in protests.
Currently, around 70 people are still reportedly detained for exercising their legitimate human rights. Some of them are serving lengthy sentences while others are in pre-trial detention. New allegations of physical and sexual violence in detention have also been surfacing in recent days.
Over the past two months, activists, human rights defenders, students, journalists, bloggers and ordinary citizens peacefully expressing dissent have continued to face criminal prosecution. Hirak activists continue to be prosecuted on the basis of overly broad laws even after a presidential pardon was announced in February this year.
We urge the Algerian authorities to stop using violence to disperse peaceful demonstrations and to halt arbitrary arrests and detention of individuals for exercising their rights to freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly. We also call on Algerian authorities to fulfil the presidential pardon granted to people participating in the Hirak movement, and to cease all forms of harassment and intimidation against them.
We reiterate our call on the authorities to conduct prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of human rights violations, to hold accountable those responsible, and to ensure that victims have access to redress.
We also urge authorities to review the Penal Code and other repressive legislation, notably Law 12-06 on associations and Law 91-19 on public meetings and demonstrations, to bring them into line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which have been ratified by Algeria.
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