Help release activists, journalists and human rights defenders detained by the Algerian authorities

Picture of a demonstration in Algeria

Blog written by Hadil El-Khouly, Country Coordinator for Algeria

On the 20th of September 2023, Amnesty International launched a new campaign to help put an end
to Algeria’s mounting climate of repression. It calls on the Algerian government to immediately
release citizens arbitrarily detained for solely exercising their right to freedom of expression,
assembly, and association.

Since the “Hirak” weekly protest movement broke out in February 2019, thousands of political and
civil society activists, human rights defenders, and journalists have been arbitrarily detained by the
authorities.

Hirak protest movement began with calling for political change and was faced with repression from
the government which intensified following the election of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in
December 2019 and the halting of Hirak in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The protests
picked up again, but the repression from the authorities rose to match it, with widespread arrests of
Hirak protesters.

Over the past four years, authorities have detained people just for peacefully expressing their
opinions, including journalists and citizens penalized for social media posts. They used bogus charges
such as “spreading fake news” and “offending” public officials.

Algerian authorities are executing a wide-scale, indiscriminate crackdown on anyone who dissents
from the government line. What started as a targeted attack is extending to a repression of the
whole of Algerian civil society. Young and old; urban and rural; activists and school children, no
matter the gender, the Algerian authorities are going after anyone exercising their right to freedom
of expression, assembly or association in a way deemed threatening to the government.

Authorities have also abused anti-terrorism laws to target dissidents and critics.
Between January and September 2023 alone, Algerian authorities prosecuted at least five journalists
for exercising their right to freedom of expression, shut down at least two media companies,
convicted at least two activists and one researcher on security-related charges, and shut down at
least one political party. Today, over 200 people remain in jail and we see regular new arrests of
journalists, members of civil society, or people simply expressing themselves online.

Amnesty International interviewed former detainees as well as the families and lawyers of those who
remain behind bars. A story page was set up as part of the campaign, documenting the experiences
of those who endure the three core violations of people’s rights to:
Freedom of expression
Freedom of assembly
Freedom of association

The attack on Freedom of expression is highlighted through the case of prominent journalist Ihsane
El Kadi detained since December 2022 on charges relating to his journalism. In June 2023, El Kadi was
convicted by Algerian Authorities to five years in prison.

The attack on Freedom of assembly is highlighted through the case of Hirak detainee Mohamed
Tadjadit, who has been detained 4 times in 4 different cases since 2019 for his protest or expressing
himself in his poems.

The attack on Freedom of association is highlighted through the case of Slimane Bouhafs, held in
prison on bogus terrorism charges for links to the Movement for the Self-Determination of Kabylie or
MAK. On 4 July 2023, Slimane Bouhafs was sentenced to three years in prison. The charges include
“belonging to a terrorist organisation”.

In highlighting these stories, Amnesty International urges support in demanding the Algerian
authorities grant the urgent and unconditional release of those arbitrarily detained, halt the
harassment of opponents and perceived critics outside prison, and ultimately reform the legislation
that enables serious violations of people’s rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.
We hope that this campaign will mobilize people to act and to put pressure on the Algerian
authorities to release all those wrongfully detained.

Please take action and sign the petition
https://www.amnesty.org/en/petition/release-those-wrongfully-detained-in-algeria/ and join our international action on 20 December for International Human Rights Solidarity Day.

If you would like to do further work on Algeria or other countries in North Africa (Egypt, Tunisia,
Morocco/Western Sahara and Libya) please contact Beverley at
beverley.foulkes-jones@amnesty.org.uk

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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