UN Alarmed By Repression Upsurge Against Peaceful Protests In Algeria

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reiterated on Tuesday its deep concern at the deterioration of the human rights situation in Algeria and the continued crackdown on Hirak.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reiterated on Tuesday its deep concern at the deterioration of the human rights situation in Algeria and the continued crackdown on Hirak, denouncing “the use of violence to disperse peaceful demonstrations” and “the arbitrary arrests and detention of persons who have exercised their rights to freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly”, as stated by the MAP.

“We are increasingly concerned about the situation in Algeria where the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, of peaceful assembly and of participation in marches continue to be threatened,” denounced the OHCHR spokesperson, Rupert Colville, during a press briefing in Geneva.

Since street protests resumed on February 13th, after a year of online protests organized by the Hirak movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “we have received reports of unnecessary and disproportionate use force against peaceful protesters, as well as continued arrests”, he continued, noting that “currently, around 70 people are reportedly still detained for exercising their legitimate human rights. Some of them are serving long sentences while others are in pre-trial detention. New allegations of physical and sexual violence in detention have also surfaced in recent days.”

“Over the past two months, activists, human rights defenders, students, journalists, bloggers and ordinary citizens peacefully voicing their disagreement have continued to face criminal prosecution on the basis of laws that are too broad, even after the announcement of a presidential pardon in February this year”, said Colville.

“We urge Algerian authorities to stop using violence to disperse peaceful demonstrations and to put an end to the arbitrary arrests and detention of people who have exercised their rights to freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly”, he said, as “some protesters were reportedly detained and then released after being forced to sign a document promising not to participate in the protests”.

Colville also called for “rapid, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of human rights violations (…) and that they ensure that the victims obtain reparations”, inviting Algerian authorities “to review the Penal Code and other repressive laws, in particular Law 12-06 on associations and Law 91-19 on public meetings and demonstrations, to bring them into conformity with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both ratified by Algeria”.

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