Amnesty international report 2016/17. Algeria discussion thread.
Hey reddit, WE DID IT. One more subscriber since last time, its working ! Thanks to everyone who reads these, i put a lot of time into them and with the goal that people know a little more about whats going on in the world past the stereotypes and the major major headlines. If you're new here i'm going through every country/territory alphabetically using AI's 16/17 to outline to the current state of the human rights in the region and offering a
reasonably educated guess on the ripple effects of the issues and what the future may hold. I'll link the previous posts at the bottom as per usual and without any further shenanigans let kcik things off with….
People's democratic republic of Algeria
Head of state: Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Head of government: Abdelmalek Sellal
The authorities continued to restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly and religion, and prosecuted peaceful critics, including human rights defenders, in unfair trials. Refugees and migrants were arbitrarily expelled. Impunity for past serious abuses continued to prevail. Courts handed down death sentences; no executions were carried out.
In January, the government dissolved the Department for Information and Security (DRS), the main security agency previously associated with torture and other ill-treatment of detainees. It was replaced with a Security Services Directorate that reports directly to the President. Also in January, changes to the Code of Criminal Procedure came into effect, including new witness protection measures, limits to the right to appeal in minor offence cases and amendments allowing suspects to contact lawyers immediately when they are taken into police custody. The changes did not give suspects the right to have their lawyer present during interrogation. Constitutional amendments adopted in February included the creation of a National Human Rights Council to replace the National Consultative Commission for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. Other amendments included making Tamazight a national language, thus enhancing the cultural rights of the Amazigh population.1 The authorities continued to block access to Algeria by UN human rights mechanisms, including those with mandates on torture and other ill-treatment, counter-terrorism, enforced disappearance and freedoms of association and peaceful assembly. The authorities also continued to prevent international organizations, including Amnesty International, from conducting human rights fact-finding visits.
FREEDOMS OF ASSOCIATION AND ASSEMBLY
The authorities continued to leave many civil society associations, including Amnesty International Algeria, in legal limbo by failing to acknowledge their registration applications. Such applications were required under Law 12-06 on associations, which imposed wideranging arbitrary restrictions on associations and exposed members of unrecognized associations to up to six months’ imprisonment and fines. The authorities tightly restricted freedom of assembly, maintaining a ban on all demonstrations in the capital, Algiers, under a decree from 2001, and arresting and prosecuting peaceful protesters. In January a court in Tamanrasset imposed fines and one-year prison sentences on seven peaceful protesters convicted of “unarmed gathering” and “offending public institutions” for protesting in December 2015 about a local land dispute. Six of the seven protesters were released in July under a presidential pardon. The seventh, activist Dahmane Kerami, remained in prison serving a one-year sentence in a separate case. He was convicted of participating in “unarmed gatherings” and “obstructing traffic” during peaceful protests in Tamanrasset in 2015 against shale gas fracking and in support of workers laid off by a local gold mining company. He was released on 31 December after serving his sentence.2 In March, a court sentenced activist Abdelali Ghellam to one year in prison and a fine after convicting him of inciting others to participate in an “unarmed gathering” and “obstruct traffic”. The charges related to comments about the protest in Tamanrasset that he published on Facebook. He was released in April.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
The authorities prosecuted peaceful critics and forced the closure of media outlets. In March, a court in Tlemcen convicted and fined Zoulikha Belarbi, a member of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH), for defamation and for “offending” the President and a public body. The charges related to her publishing a satirical collage on Facebook depicting President Bouteflika and senior officials. A six-month prison term was added to her sentence on appeal in December. In June, the authorities arrested the director and the producer of the private Khabar Broadcasting Corporation and a Ministry of Communication official in connection with two popular satirical current affairs programmes. The three were detained for several weeks before a court sentenced them to suspended prison terms of between six months and one year for licensing irregularities. Gendarmes sealed the recording studios in July, forcing both shows off the air.3 In July, a court sentenced freelance journalist Mohamed Tamalt to two years’ imprisonment after convicting him of “offending” the President and public institutions in comments he published on Facebook and in his blog about corruption and nepotism among leading officials. An appeal court confirmed his sentence in August, following a hearing at which he accused prison guards of beating him. He began a protest hunger strike at the time of his arrest in June, became comatose in August, and died in hospital in December. The authorities failed to adequately investigate his alleged beating in detention, his treatment in prison and his death.4 In November, a court in El Bayadh sentenced Hassan Bouras, a journalist and human rights activist, to one year in prison on charges of complicity in offending public officials and a public body after a private television station broadcast film of him interviewing three people alleging police and judicial corruption.5
FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND BELIEF
From June onwards, the authorities targeted members of the Ahmadi Muslim community, arresting more than 50 in Blida and Skikda provinces and other parts of the country on account of their faith, according to media reports and civil society groups. Soon after the June arrests in Blida, the Minister of Religious Affairs publicly accused Ahmadis of “extremism” and of serving foreign interests. In November, a court in Skikda sentenced 20 Ahmadis to fines and prison terms ranging from one month to one year; at the end of the year they remained at liberty pending appeal. In August, a court sentenced Christian convert Slimane Bouhafs from Setif to five years in prison for “denigrating” Islam and “insulting” the Prophet Muhammad in comments he posted on Facebook. An appeal court reduced the sentence to three years’ imprisonment.6
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
The authorities harassed and prosecuted human rights defenders. In March, a court in Ghardaia charged lawyer Noureddine Ahmine with “insulting a public institution” and falsely reporting an offence, in relation to a complaint of torture that he had filed, apparently on behalf of a client, in 2014. Noureddine Ahmine had defended many protesters and journalists facing charges arising from their peaceful exercise of their human rights. In June, an investigative judge in Ghardaia issued an arrest warrant against lawyer Salah Dabouz, a member of LADDH, in relation to comments he made about unrest in Ghardaia and for allegedly taking a computer and camera into a prison.
Dozens of people arrested in connection with communal violence in 2015 in the Mzab region remained in pre-trial detention throughout 2016 as the authorities investigated them on charges of terrorism and inciting hatred. They included political Amnesty International Report 2016/17 65 activist Kameleddine Fekhar and other supporters of regional autonomy. In March the UN Human Rights Committee found that Algeria had violated Articles 2, 7 and 9 of the ICCPR. Its findings related to the failure to investigate allegations by businessman Mejdoub Chani that DRS officers had detained him incommunicado and tortured him during interrogation following his arrest for corruption and money laundering in 2009. He remained in prison at the end of the year awaiting the outcome of appeals to the Supreme Court.
The Family Code continued to discriminate against women in matters of marriage, divorce, child custody and guardianship, and inheritance. Women and girls remained inadequately protected against gender-based violence in the absence of a comprehensive law. The Penal Code continued to prohibit rape without defining it or explicitly recognizing marital rape as a crime, and allowed men who rape girls under the age of 18 to escape trial by marrying their victim. The Penal Code also continued to criminalize abortions.
REFUGEES’ AND MIGRANTS’ RIGHTS
The government again failed to enact legislation protecting the right to asylum. Clashes between local residents and migrants from sub-Saharan Africa occurred in Bechar and Ouargla in March, in Tamanrasset in July, and in Algiers in November. In December, security forces arrested an estimated 1,500 sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees in Algiers, and arbitrarily expelled hundreds of them to neighbouring Niger within days. Those not expelled were released in the southern city of Tamanrasset and reported being barred from public transport to prevent them returning to Algiers.
COUNTER-TERROR AND SECURITY
Security forces and armed opposition groups clashed in several areas. The authorities said the security forces killed 125 alleged members of armed groups but disclosed few details, raising concern that some may have been extrajudicially executed. In March, the armed group calling itself alQa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on a gas production site in Khrechba. No casualties were reported.
The government continued to allow impunity for serious human rights abuses committed during the 1990s, by failing to investigate past abuses and hold those responsible to account. The unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, rape and other torture committed by the security forces, as well as some abuses committed by armed groups, may amount to crimes against humanity.7
Courts continued to impose death sentences. No executions have been carried out since 1993.
Now once again there are good and bad things to take from this. One of the strongest messages which is both good and bad is the death of British-Algerian journalist Mohamed Tamalt. This man was imprisoned for exercising his freedom of speech. He posted a poem on facebook satirically criticising his president only to be sentenced to jail. He went on a three month hunger strike which resulted in a comatose state, from which he later died. This man deserves recognition. Amnesty international urged Algerian authorities to launch and conduct an “independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances” of the journalists death. Something they have still not come good on. I believe that there is good to be found in every situation, and the good that came from Mr. Tamalt's death was the eye opening that people will hopefully get from it. He joins the thousands/millions of people who have died for their cause and put themselves through torturous situations just to get their message across. Well now he's gone and we're here. He did the hard part, all we have to do is help spread his message, live the philosophy and simply make him proud. Share his story with every one you know (and i would say get as many people as possible to share the same poem with the Algerian government but my attribution with AI prohibits me from doxxing, even if that doxxing is Mr. Sellal's oppressive regime).
When it comes to the refugees and migrants, its the same old story. Not just with Algeria but with pretty much the whole world unfortunately. We (as the human race) are going through a crucial period whereby A LOT of things are changing. History is doomed to repeat itself and i see a scary amount of similarities from pre-WW1/2 coming about again. A huge financial crash and years of turmoil/fallout as the economy tries to stabilise, resulting in housing, job, food, aid/relief and infrastructure crisis. Factor in the UK leaving the EU, TRUMP, Scotland potentially leaving the UK and rejoining the EU, the Arab spring and all that came with it, the Syrian war and we will see history repeat itself. Next is all out world war. We're currently seeing the largest migration of refugees since WW2 and it seems we've learnt nothing.
Almost 0 countries are taking a good stance on harbouring the poor, war-torn people on need of help. Turning away orphan children and pregnant woman because they see a 'white mans' erection as more important than a 'black mans' life. (In America 2006 the government spent $77.2 Million on 'processing umaccompanied minors seeking asylum' and $84.24 Million on Viagra the same fiscal year).
It's tragic and Algeria is not exempt, not at all. Leaving the ~1500 immigrants completely stranded in a foriegn country with no help, its disgusting. These people make these pilgrimages to start a better life, who are we to tell a citizen of the world, a fellow member of the human race "no, you can't come here, you're not welcome", and then leave them to (often times) die. I suppose what i'm saying with where this will go (the attitude of refugees, worldwide) is to a mass death toll (on top of the casualties already) and eventually a war.
The thing that annoys me the most about this is if it was millions of white Europeans in the exact situations, as opposed to the millions of African/Asian/Middle Easterns….there would have been a solution yesterday.
Anyway, rant over. All told Algeria is still a major concern in terms of human rights violations and is a terrible example for free speech. But, to my brothers and sisters over there, continue fighting, we are doing everything we can for you in this broken system and we will prevail!
If anyone would like to look into the work that Amnesty do more in depth, go here and be made aware of campaigns such as 'write for rights' and our various petitions etc…. you can also donate if you want to!
Lastly people, i just wanted to clarify the purpose for these posts….They are for people to educate themselves and if you have any questions as to the country/territory in question (or just about Amnesty/human rights in general) then please feel free to ask! I hope to encourage some debate with these 🙂
Tune in next time for – ANGOLA