Algeria: Human rights defender Yosra Frawes must be allowed in the country

Open Letter
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14 December 2022. In a joint letter, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), along with 65 other signatories, denounce the refoulement of the head of the organisation’s Maghreb and Middle East office, Yosra Frawes, on her arrival in Algeria. The freedom of mouvement of the Tunisian human rights defender in the country must be guaranteed. Such an arbitrary ban on entry into the country is an alarming threat to the respect of human rights in Algeria.

Algiers-Geneva-Paris-Tunis, 14 December 2022,

Mr. Aïmene Benabderrahmane, Prime Minister
Mr. Ramtame Lamamra, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Brahim Merad, Minister of the Interior
M . Abderrachid Tabi, Minister of Justice
Mr. Abdelmadjid Zaalani, President of the National Council for Human Rights
Mr. Abderrahmane Hamzaoui, President of the National Observatory of Civil Society

Honourable Ministers,

On Thursday 1 December 2022, Ms Yosra Frawes, a renowned Tunisian feminist lawyer and activist, women’s rights defender, former President of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD) and head of the Middle East and North Africa Desk at the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), was prevented from entering Algerian territory, as she was on her way to a meeting with women’s organisations from the sub-region, in Oran. Indeed, coming from Tunis, on her arrival at Algiers airport, Yosra Frawes was stopped and spent many hours at the airport under police surveillance. This without the possibility of informing anyone due to the cutting of her mobile phone and internet connections. Her passport was also confiscated. She was interrogated several times in order to find out the organisers and the programme of the meeting she was going to, as well as the people she had met during a previous visit to Algeria, at the beginning of the "Hirak" movement in 2019. It was clearly implied that her profession as "FIDH official", which appears on her Tunisian passport, meant that she was banned from entering Algeria. Subsequently, on the same day, Yosra Frawes was deported by plane to Tunisia, without any legal reason for this ban.

We, international human rights organisations and Algerian and Tunisian civil society organisations, denounce the arbitrary refoulement to which Yosra Frawes has been subjected because of her peaceful activities to promote and defend human rights and her contacts with Algerian civil society opposition figures, in clear violation of her right to freedom of movement.

We recall that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has in the past considered as "arbitrary" the deprivation of liberty of a human rights defender seeking to enter a third country to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association. On 20 July 2017, Adilur Rahman Khan, secretary of the Bangladeshi human rights NGO Odhikar, vice-president of FIDH and member of the OMCT General Assembly, was deported to Bangladesh after being detained for over 14 hours by Malaysian immigration at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. In an opinion adopted on 20 November 2017, the WGAD declared Mr Khan’s detention arbitrary; see also: WGAD, Opinion No. 67/2017 concerning Adilur Rahman Khan (Malaysia), 7 December 2017; UN Doc. A/HRC/WGAD/2017/67; and Urgent Appeal of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT) MYS 001 / 0717 / OBS 083.1.

We appeal to your authority to restore Ms Yosra Frawes’ rights, so that she can once again move freely in Algeria. We also hope that your country will welcome any representative of our organisations who would like to visit Algeria for personal or professional reasons. Indeed, we also deplore the fact that the letters requesting an appointment sent to your services by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT) in August and September 2022, ahead of a scheduled field visit, have remained unanswered to date.

Finally, we hope that your authorities will ensure that all human rights defenders can carry out their legitimate activities without hindrance in Algeria, regardless of their nationality.

With our respectful greetings,

Read here the story (in French) of this event by Yosra Frawes.

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  • Co-signatories

    1. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    2. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    3. Agir ensemble pour les droits humains

    4. Agir pour le Changement Démocratique en Algérie (ACDA)

    5. Al Bawsala

    6. Al Karama for rights and freedoms

    7. Article 19

    8. Association CALAM

    9. Association Beity

    10. Association Citoyenneté et Libertés ACL

    11. Association Femme et Citoyenneté

    12. Association Joussour de la Citoyenneté

    13. Association l’Art Rue

    14. Association Tunisienne de Défense des Droits de l’Enfant ATDDE

    15. Association Tunisienne de Défense des Libertés Individuelles ADLI

    16. Association Tunisienne de l’Action Culturelle ATAC

    17. Association Tunisienne De Prévention Positive ATP+

    18. Association Tunisienne des Femmes Démocrates ATFD

    19. Association Tunisienne pour la Justice et Légalité DAMJ20. Association Wachm

    21. Aswat Nissa

    22. Avocats Sans Frontières ASF

    23. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

    24. Civil Rigths Defenders

    25. Collectif des Avocats pour le Changement et la Dignité (CACD)

    26. Collectif des Familles de Disparus en Algérie (CFDA)

    27. Collectif Hirak montréal pour une Alternative Démocratique (CHAMD)

    28. Confédération Générale Autonome des Travailleurs en Algérie (CGATA)

    29. Democratic Transition & Human Rights Support – DAAM

    30. Dignity & rehabilitation coalition

    31. ESCR-Net - International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

    32. EuroMed Rights

    33. Fédération Euro-Méditerranéenne contre les disparitions forcées FEMED

    34. Forum Attajdid pour la pensée progressiste

    35. Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Économiques et Sociaux FTDES

    36. Front Line Defenders

    37. IBTYKARE

    38. Institut Arabe des Droits de l’Homme IADH

    39. International Center for Transitional Justice ICTJ

    40. Intersection Association for Rights and Freedoms

    41. L’Association tunisienne de soutien aux minorités

    42. La Fédération des tunisiens citoyens des deux rives FTCR

    43. La Fondation Hassen Saadaoui pour la démocratie et l’égalité

    44. La société tunisienne de thérapie familiale et du couple

    45. L’association Nachaz-Dissonances

    46. Le Comité pour le Respect des Libertés et des Droits de l’Homme CLRDHT

    47. Le Groupe Tawhida Ben Cheikh

    48. Le Réseau tunisien de la justice transitionnelle RTJT

    49. Le Syndicat national des journalistes tunisiens SNJT

    50. Legal Agenda

    51. Les Danseurs Citoyens Sud

    52. Ligue algérienne pour la défense des droits de l’homme LADDH

    53. Ligue Tunisienne pour la défense des droits de l’Homme LTDH

    54. L’initiative Mawjoudin pour l’égalité

    55. Mémoire commune pour la liberté et la démocratie

    56. Mon Droit pour la défense de l’enfant et de la famille

    57. No Peace Without Justice

    58. Observatoire national pour la défense du caractère civil de l’État

    59. Psychologues du Monde Tunisie

    60. Riposte

    61. SHOAA for Human Rights

    62. SOS disparus

    63. Soumoud Collectif citoyen

    64. Syndicat National Autonome des Personnels de l’Administration publique (SNAPAP)

    65. Tharwa n’Fadhma n’Soumer

    66. Union des diplômés-chômeurs U.D.C

  • Member organisations - Algeria
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