The Algerian authorities have attacked dozens of protesters, journalists and activists with arbitrary arrests and legal proceedings, on the grounds that they peacefully demonstrated and expressed political opinions on the networks social, writes Amnesty International in a statement released on February 22, 2021, on the second anniversary of the Hirak protests.
In an investigation of 73 cases of Hirak activists, protesters and journalists, Amnesty International found that over the past two years, authorities have resorted to arbitrary arrests, prosecutions and sometimes to heavy prison sentences on the basis of vague provisions of the Criminal Code. Some activists saw their phones intrusively searched, others were fired by their employers because they had been charged. Some reported that they had been subjected to torture and ill-treatment while in detention.
On February 18, in a speech to the nation, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced early legislative elections and declared that he had ordered the release of dozens of demonstrators detained or prosecuted for participating in the Hirak protest movement. or for publications on social networks. At least 37 were released on February 19 and 20, but 31 still remain in prison, according to the National Committee for the Release of Detainees, a local monitoring group.
Among those who were released, figure Khaled Drareni, who had been sentenced to two years in prison for its cover of the Hirak, and of which the case was part of Amnesty International’s campaign Write for rights.
“Amnesty International’s findings point to a deliberate strategy by the Algerian authorities to crush dissent, a strategy that contradicts their promises of respect for human rights. These actions are those of a government eager to censor its people because they demonstrate without violence and express critical opinions on social networks. These repressive methods have no place in a rights-respecting society, ”said Amna Guellali, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Amnesty International.
“Many people pardoned by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in recent days are peaceful demonstrators who have only exercised their rights to freedom of expression and assembly and therefore should never have been arrested.
Many people pardoned by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in recent days are peaceful demonstrators who have only exercised their rights to freedom of expression and assembly and therefore should never have been arrested.
“The Algerian government must immediately and unconditionally release all other peaceful demonstrators, activists and journalists who are being prosecuted or imprisoned for having demonstrated or expressed their views peacefully, and must abandon all the charges against them. Finally, we call on the Algerian authorities to modify or repeal the articles of law which trample on the rights to freedom of expression, both online and offline, and of peaceful assembly. “
The main findings of Amnesty International are:
- During these two years, at least 73 people have been the target of arbitrary arrests, prosecutions and, in some cases, heavy prison sentences based on provisions of the Criminal Code formulated in vague terms: “infringement” of the law. national security or national interest, “contempt” of officials and “incitement” to unarmed assembly;
- The recently adopted laws that criminalize the dissemination of false information or the failure to comply with containment measures during this period of health emergency have been used to sue several activists who had called for resuming the protest or had criticized the authorities’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- In several cases, police searched the phones of protesters, activists and Judges sometimes withheld information retrieved from messaging applications from a review of court documents. private to substantiate the charges against these individuals, in addition to prosecuting them for public comments on Facebook;
- At least seven cyber activists and peaceful protesters lost their jobs or were fired by their employers as a result of their charges;
- The judicial authorities have not investigated complaints lodged by two Hirak activists for torture and ill-treatment in detention.
On February 22, 2019, large, mostly peaceful protests erupted across Algeria, initially opposing then-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The latter having finally decided to withdraw, the demands of the demonstrators then focused on a complete change of the political system.
In December 2019, Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected president and promised that his government would “consolidate democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights”.
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