UN Report on Use of Anti-Terrorist Laws against Peaceful Hirak Activists Shows Algeria’s Harsh Repression – NGO

The recent UN report denouncing the use of anti-terrorism laws against the peaceful Hirak movement in Algeria was a vivid and additional reminder of the harsh repression that prevails in this country, stressed PDES (Promotion of Economic and Social Development); an international NGO in Geneva. In a statement officially published on December 27, 2021, several United Nations bodies under the Human Rights Council had called on the Algerian authorities regarding hundreds of activists, journalists and human rights defenders who have been unduly prosecuted on terrorism-related charges. The relevant bodies, including the Special Rapporteur on the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the fight against terrorism, clearly indicate that the Algerian penal code, by which these prosecutions were initiated, is not in conformity with the definitions of terrorism as put forward by the Security Council resolutions and the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. The UN experts also recall that the Human Rights Committee, in its recently adopted conclusions on the human rights situation in Algeria, denounced the misuse of anti-terrorism laws to prosecute human rights defenders and journalists in Algeria. In this regard, PDES insists on “the extremely serious nature of these arrests.” The Algerian authorities “are characterized by the illegal use of anti-terrorist laws in a country whose population has paid a very high price in the face of terrorism.” Algeria’s policy of repression and massive violations of human rights is exposed, said the same source, arguing that the legitimacy of this authoritarian regime is “clearly questioned.” In their detailed correspondence analyzing in depth the massive excesses in which the Algerian authorities are engaged, the UN experts express their deep concern about these misappropriations and the discretionary power that the Algerian authorities have arrogated to prosecute and convict Hirak activists. The mandate holders have placed particular emphasis on the serious legal loopholes characterizing the two ordinances, especially on the provisions on the repression of terrorist acts contained in the Penal Code and those dealing with the protection of information and documents administered. It is also referred that the legislative texts are in direct opposition to the best practices in anti-terrorist legislation. In the same correspondence, the UN bodies concerned, including the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, as well as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of association, demanded that the Algerian authorities respond to their questions so that the Human Rights Council can be duly informed of this situation and follow up on them. It should be recalled that the Algerian authorities have also been the subject of an official denunciation by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants concerning the violations and repression suffered by immigrants on Algerian territory.