Algeria: UN expert says crackdown on civil society and human rights defenders must end
22 February 2023
GENEVA (22 February 2023) – A UN expert today expressed concern over an escalating crackdown against civil society by Algerian authorities after the dissolutions of la Ligue Algérienne pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (LADDH) and le Rassemblement Actions Jeunesse (RAJ), two of the most important human rights associations in Algeria.
“Acts of intimidation, silencing and repression against the human rights movement must end,” said Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders. “The decision to dissolve such respected human rights associations demonstrates an alarming crackdown on civil society organisations and seriously undermines the space for human rights defenders to carry out their legitimate human rights activities, and to freely associate and express themselves. The decisions to dissolve those two renowned human rights organisations must be reversed,” she said.
The UN expert said the procedure against LADDH did not respect the principles of the right to a fair trial. The association was not informed of the case brought against it by the Ministry of Interior in May 2022, the trial date at the Administrative Court in June 2022 nor the decision of dissolution. “LADDH was not provided the opportunity to consider the charges brought against it and to present a defence,” Lawlor said.
RAJ was also subject to a dissolution decision by the Administrative Court in October 2021. The UN expert awaits the outcome of their appeal hearing, which will take place on 23 February 2023 at the State Council.
“We have been sharing strong concerns over numerous provisions of the Algerian law on associations (12/06), which contradict international human rights law,” the Special Rapporteur said.
The dissolutions take place in a climate where human rights defenders do not feel safe to carry out their work and exercise their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. Several members of LADDH have allegedly faced obstacles to and retaliation for their cooperation with the United Nations, particularly when actively participating in Algeria’s Universal Periodic Review in 2022, the UN expert said.
“I look forward to upcoming country visits by relevant mandate holders in 2023 to engage in meaningful conversations about protecting civic space with Algerian authorities,” Lawlor said.
The UN Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.