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UN expert shocked by tragic killing of a political activist in Algeria

GENEVA (27 April 2011) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, on Wednesday expressed deep shock and sorrow over the killing of a political activist he had met on a recent official visit to Algeria.

The expert had met Ahmed Kerroumi, professor at the University of Oran, and member of the opposition party Democratic and Social movement (Mouvement Démocratique et Social) and the Oran section of the National Coordination for Change and Democracy (Coordination nationale pour le changement et la démocratie), during his official mission to Algeria from 10 to 17 April 2011 organised at the invitation of the Government. Mr. Kerroumi was one of the civil society representatives with whom the Special Rapporteur discussed the human rights situation in the country at a meeting in Oran on 15 April. He reportedly disappeared on 19 April, and his body was found in his office on 23 April.

“His killing is tragic and absolutely unacceptable,” La Rue said. “According to reports I received, Mr. Kerroumi had several head injuries, which leads me to believe that this was an arbitrary deprivation of life.”

The expert added that he had received information that a vehicle with four men had been parked in front of Mr. Kerroumi’s office for four days prior to the killing. The car has reportedly not reappeared since then.

“I insisted on absolute freedom to meet with whomever I considered necessary and requested full protection from the State for all those that met with me during my visit, and especially after the conclusion of the mission,” La Rue said. “After all this, I am deeply shocked and sorrowed about this incident.”

The expert called on the Government to conduct “the most detailed and independent investigation into this tragic killing to bring those responsible to justice. Such action, coupled with a public condemnation by the Government, is indispensable to ensure that this horrendous event will not have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the whole country”.

“I send my deepest sentiment and condolences to the widow of Mr. Kerroumi, to his colleagues, and activists in Algeria, and I request the authorities to grant them full protection to ensure their physical and psychological integrity”, he added.

“I will closely follow all developments on this case, including directly with the Algerian authorities.”

ENDS

For further information on the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, please visit: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/opinion/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page - Algeria: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/DZIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Guillaume Pfeifflé (Tel: +41 22 917 9384 / email:gpfeiffle@ohchr.org)