Algeria: Awaited verdict for the dissolution of Rassemblement Actions Jeunesse

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Daoud Abismail via Unsplash

Paris-Geneva, 16 November 2022 - The Algerian Council of State is about to give its final verdict on the dissolution of the Rassemblement Actions Jeunesse (RAJ). On the eve of the verdict’s announcement, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (International Federation for Human Rights-FIDH and World Organisation Against Torture-OMCT) reiterates its support to the association and urges the Algerian authorities to reverse the decision to dissolve the RAJ and to put an end to the harassment of civil society organisations and human rights defenders in the country.

On 17 November 2022, the Algerian Council of State will give its final ruling on the dissolution of the association Rassemblement Actions Jeunesse (RAJ). This hearing follows an appeal filed in April 2022 by the RAJ’s lawyers to the Council of State against the first instance judgment of the Administrative Court of Algiers of 13 October 2021 ordering the dissolution of the association. RAJ’s dissolution had been decided following legal proceedings initiated against the association by the Algerian Ministry of the Interior and Local Authorities five months earlier. On 26 May 2021, the latter had filed a request with the administrative court of Algiers in order to obtain the dissolution of the association, on the grounds that its activities were contrary to the objectives enumerated in Law 12/06 relating to associations as well as to the objectives enumerated in the organisation’s own statutes.

The decision to dissolve RAJ in the first instance judgement is arbitrary in that the activities denounced by the Ministry of the Interior are ordinary and public activities that the association has carried out during the popular Hirak movement, in accordance with its statutes, and for which the RAJ had not received any prior warning or formal notice. Furthermore, this decision highlighted the instrumentalisation of Law 12/06 by the Algerian government, which many civil society organisations have described as a liberticidal law due to the discretionary power given to the authorities over the management of associations. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called on the Algerian authorities to revise this law, which it described as repressive, in order to bring it into line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which Algeria has ratified.

RAJ is a national youth association created in December 1992 and accredited on 16 March 1993. It is committed to youth and campaigns for citizenship, freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Algeria. The organisation has publicly supported the popular and peaceful Hirak movement since its inception, calling for democratic change in the country.

While the Algerian Constitution recognises in its preamble the peaceful Hirak as a moment of "building a new Algeria", due to the RAJ’s involvement in this peaceful protest movement in February 2019, the association and its members are the target of continued judicial harassment by the Algerian authorities. A total of 13 RAJ members have been prosecuted, ten of whom have been arbitrarily detained for carrying out the association’s regular activities and peacefully expressing their views, including online.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the prospect of RAJ’s definitive dissolution, which would set a dangerous precedent by disproportionately infringing on the right to freedom of association, and would constitute an attack on Algerian civil society as a whole.

The Observatory calls on the Algerian Council of State to annul the decision to dissolve the RAJ taken in the first instance and to restore the association’s legitimacy so that it can carry out its activities in complete freedom.

The Observatory calls on the Algerian authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against RAJ, its members and all individuals and organisations defending human rights in the country. The Observatory also calls on the Algerian authorities to put an end to the instrumentalisation of the judiciary and to guarantee its independence. Finally, the Observatory calls on the Algerian authorities to comply with their international human rights commitments and to guarantee in all circumstances the right to freedom of association, as enshrined in Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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