Algeria: Reactions following the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders

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As the official visit to Algeria by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mrs. Mary Lawlor, has just concluded, eleven organisations, including FIDH and OMCT within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, call on the Algerian government to release imprisoned activists, repeal oppressive laws, and protect endangered civil society organisations.

December 6, 2023. From November 26 to December 5, 2023, Ms. Mary Lawlor, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, was able to make an official visit to Algeria.

11 human rights NGOs had publicly expressed their wish that this visit be an opportunity to free imprisoned activists and for reforms to see the light of day.

Following the public report of this visit, NGOs support the main measures recommended by the Special Rapporteur, namely that:
• The Algerian government must view Human Rights Defenders as allies and opportunities within society, not as threats. The signatories call for the repeal of all repressive laws and legislative provisions relating to the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and the adoption, on the basis of broad consultation with Algerian society, a regulatory framework complies with international standards notably respect for human rights in Algeria.
• Many civil society organizations are in danger of disappearing. This is already the case of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) and the Rassemblement Actions Jeunesse (RAJ). Civil society organizations must have the freedom to adequately play their role.
• Several articles of law must also be reformed in accordance with international standards. This is the case of articles 79 and 87 bis of the Penal Code, relating to the attack on the integrity of the national territory and the fight against terrorism which are abusively used to imprison activists. The same goes for the Ban on Exiting the National Territory (ISTN) which is today used in a punitive manner to restrict the movement of human rights defenders in Algeria.

The signatories finally call on the Algerian government to release all prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders currently in prison.

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