Criminalisation of activists and journalists continue
On 8th September 2022, journalist Belkacem Haouam, a reporter from local newspaper Echorouk, was arrested after he was summoned for questioning. According to reports, his detention concerned an article he published about the Minister of Commerce and Algeria’s problems exporting its Deglet Nour dates to Europe because of restrictions on the use of pesticides. A few months later, a court in the Algiers district of Hussein Dey sentenced him to two months in prison, a ten-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 100,000 dinars (700 euros) for “publishing and disseminating false news to the public likely to harm the general interest.”
On 24th December 2022, journalist el-Kadi, editor of local independent broadcaster Radio M and news website Maghreb Emergent, was detained by plainclothes police officers. According to reports, he was charged under articles 95, 95 bis and 96 of the Criminal Code, relating to the receipt of funds from abroad. The offices of Radio M and Maghreb Émergent were closed and sealed by authorities.
According to Amnesty International, over the past two years the authorities have arrested, summoned or convicted at least 11 other journalists in Algeria.
"The daughter of the prominent Algerian journalist Ihsane el-Kadi has called for his immediate release from detention." Kadi "has been a longstanding critic of the Algerian government and is one of the north African country’s most influential voices." https://t.co/hngYVxKIsh— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) January 16, 2023
As reported previously by the CIVICUS Monitor, in February 2022, the Hirak protests resumed, but only lasted for around three months due to repression from authorities.
The Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) estimated that at least 330 individuals are currently imprisoned in relation to the Hirak, as of 5th February 2022.
Three years after the “Hirak” pro-democracy protests began, Algerian authorities are holding at least 280 activists, many of them associated with Hirak, who are facing or convicted on the basis of vague charges. They should all be released. https://t.co/IPiMg3S3Qc pic.twitter.com/aIvujwEWR8— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) February 21, 2022
I am delighted to hear reports that Human Rights Defenders Faleh Hammoudi & Zaki Hannache have been released from custody in 🇩🇿 #Algeria. @AlgeriaUNOG pic.twitter.com/OuIE4ODMF6— Mary Lawlor UN Special Rapporteur HRDs (@MaryLawlorhrds) March 31, 2022
During 2022, the prosecution, intimidation and criminalisation of human rights defenders and activists continue, especially after authorities approved legislation to expand the definition of terrorism, as reported previously by the Monitor.
According to national human right groups, at least 340 individuals are being held in prison for their participation in peaceful protest or exercise of freedom of expression as of February 2022.
On 13th January, Nasreddine Hamitouche and Hichem Khiat, of the Youth Gathering for Algeria (Rassemblement des Jeunes pour l’Algérie - RJPA), were placed under judicial control.
On 19th February, Faleh Hammoudi, head of the Tlemcen office of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH), was arrested and charged with “offending public bodies,” “spreading fake news” that might harm public safety, and “running an unregistered association.” He was sentenced on 15th May to a one-year suspended prison term. Authorities have prosecuted at least eight members of LADDH for their activism.
According to Amnesty International, 27 human rights defenders and peaceful activists were arrested in February alone.
On 19th June 2022, the Council of Ministers examined a draft Law on Associations. The proposal would subject an association’s stated objectives to even more vague and imprecise general criteria, such as the “respect for national constants, principles, values enshrined in the constitution, national and territorial unity, the fundamentals of national identity, the symbols of the State and its institutions, national security and defence, public order and good morals.”
Civic Space Developments