EP Harshly Criticizes Algeria

The European Parliament votes an emergency resolution on the deterioration of freedoms in Algeria

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Brussels – The European Parliament, meeting in a plenary session in Brussels, adopted an emergency resolution on Thursday evening denouncing the deterioration of freedoms in Algeria.

This is the second time in a year that a European Parliament resolution has been adopted urgently to call on Algeria to respect human rights and bring the international community to witness the serious situation of freedoms in this country.

The resolution adopted by 669 deputies for and only 3 deputies against which shows that almost all members of the European Parliament condemn the repression of human rights activists and journalists and denounce the tight security on freedoms.

Recalling the resolution of the European Parliament of November 28, 2019 on the situation of freedoms and that of April 30, 2015 on the imprisonment of human rights activists and workers in this country, as well as the annual report of the European Union on human rights and democracy in the world, published on June 15, 2020, the text adopted today underlines that the political arrests and arbitrary detentions of peaceful activists from the Hirak and trade unions, as well as journalists, have increased since summer 2019, in violation of fundamental rights to a fair trial and due process of the law.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) believe in this resolution “censorship, trials and heavy sanctions against independent media, often accused of plotting with foreign powers against national security, continue to worsen” and that “the restrictions security measures introduced to fight the COVID-19 pandemic have helped tighten controls and are used by the authorities to further restrict civic space, limit peaceful dissent and hamper freedom of expression”.

The resolution is also concerned, in the current context of repression in Algeria, “of cases of torture in police stations and in the General Direction of Internal Security (DGSI) in Algiers, as against the prisoner Walid Nekkiche”.

In this same context, the resolution mentions the arbitrary imprisonment of journalist Khaled Drareni for the sole reason of having covered the demonstrations linked to Hirak.

MEPs say that since the Hirak protests continue online to stop the spread of COVID-19, restrictions on freedom of expression and constraints on journalists have been tightened, through the blocking of websites, censorship of television programs, as well as the detention and harassment of journalists, media officials and protesters expressing their views on social media, and the shutdown of news websites.

The resolution considers that, “in the context of the brutal shrinking of the space allotted to civil society, the Algerian authorities are pushing forward a process of constitutional revision dictated by the government, allegedly as part of the commitment made by President Tebboune during his investiture to build a new Algeria in reaction to the Hirak protests, while this process is far from counting on massive support from Algerian society and is criticized by independent civil society organizations as violating international standards in the matter of openness, participation, transparency and sovereignty of the constituent processes”, noting that “the massive arrests of civil society activists and journalists carried out in parallel have deprived this process of constitutional revision of any legitimacy in the eyes of the public”.

In their resolution, MEPs “strongly condemn the escalation of illegal and arbitrary arrests and detentions and legal harassment of journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists, lawyers, members of society, civilians and peaceful activists in Algeria, which shuts any possibility of political dialogue on the undemocratic constitutional review and hinders the exercise of freedoms of expression, assembly and association”.
They denounce “the use of the introduction of emergency measures in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to restrict the fundamental rights of the Algerian people”.

The European Parliament calls in its resolution “on Algerian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release journalist Mohamed Khaled Drareni and all those who have been detained and charged of having exercised their right to freedom of expression, whether online or offline, and freedoms of assembly and association”.

The resolution calls on Algerian authorities to “unlock the media and put an end to all arrests or detention of political activists, journalists, human rights defenders or persons who express a dissenting or critical opinion towards the government”.

It once again calls on the Algerian authorities to “put an end to all forms of intimidation, judicial harassment, criminalization and arbitrary arrest or detention of journalists who criticize the government, bloggers, human rights defenders, human rights, lawyers and activists”; once again invites them “to take the necessary measures to ensure and guarantee for all the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, freedom of the media, freedom of thought and conscience, of religion and beliefs and freedoms ”.

The resolution also condemns “any form of excessive use of force by members of the security forces when they disperse peaceful demonstrations”. It urges the Algerian authorities “to guarantee the existence of an area of ​​freedom devoted to civil society which allows the holding of an authentic political dialogue and does not criminalize fundamental freedoms”.

It “deplores the modification made to the Algerian penal code in April 2020 which restricts freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of association” and calls on the Algerian authorities “to guarantee both full accountability and democratic and civilian control of the armed forces, as well as the effective subordination of the latter to a legally constituted civilian authority, and to ensure that the role of the military is properly defined in the Constitution and explicitly limited to matters relating to the National Defense”.

The resolution urges the Algerian authorities “to authorize the entry into the country of international human rights organizations and United Nations special procedures mandate holders”.

The resolution expresses the concern of MEPs by “the administrative harassment experienced by religious minorities in this country and calls for respect of the freedom of worship of all religious minorities”.

The resolution expects the European Union to place the human rights situation at the heart of its dialogue with the Algerian authorities and asks the European External Action Service (EEAS) to develop and draw up a list of particular cases of particular concern and to report regularly to Parliament on the progress made in finding a solution.

It also calls on the EEAS, the European Commission and the Member States to “be publicly firmer on the subject of respect of human rights and the rule of law in Algeria, by condemning, unambiguously and in a public manner, human rights abuses, by urging the authorities to release victims of arbitrary detention and to end the excessive use of pre-trial detention, by demanding access to detainees and by observing the trials of activists, journalists and human rights defenders, as well as by closely monitoring the human rights situation in Algeria by all available means ”.

 

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