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UN expert: Algeria’s ongoing restrictions on human rights defenders jeopardize social reforms

According to a UN expert, Algeria needs to avoid targeting human rights defenders in order to continue building on the reforms of the past four years.

Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, expressed regret that some human rights defenders continue to face restrictions, despite the progress and reforms made in the past four years.

The UN expert identified four main patterns of violations used to suppress human rights defenders, including ongoing judicial harassment, dissolution of key human rights organizations, limitations on freedom of movement, and intimidation and surveillance leading to negative impacts on their mental health and that of their families.

Lawlor also mentioned how a handful of human rights defenders were prevented from traveling to a specific location, where she was holding meetings, and were detained for 10 hours.

She acknowledged the necessity of robust laws relating to terrorism in Algeria’s recent history, but expressed disappointment that these laws are instilling terror in human rights defenders through overly broad and vague definitions of what constitutes terrorism in the Penal Code.

The Special Rapporteur highlighted the frequent use of Article 87 bis of the Penal Code to prosecute human rights defenders.

Despite the challenges, the expert also recognized the collaboration and support of the government and newly created consultative bodies in various areas, such as women’s rights, children’s rights, healthcare, poverty relief, and political participation, to protect and promote human rights.

Lawlor welcomed the acquittal of three human rights defenders of terrorism charges and expressed hope that it would lead to a review process of Article 87 bis. She also offered assistance to the Algerian government in this regard.

This content is distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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