by Jasper Hamann
Source: Morocco World News
Date: June 12, 2021
Upcoming changes in the Algerian penal code will allow its regime to charge journalists and critics as terrorists.
Rabat - Algeria is expanding its Terrorism Act to the extent that it will be able to prosecute its critics and journalists on terrorism charges. An update was published on June 10 that indicates that Algeria’s unpopular regime is broadening the definition of terrorism to include charges commonly levied against journalists, anti-establishment protesters, and even online critics.
Ahead of a weekend of legislative elections, the move appears to constitute another increase in repressive measures by Algeria's ruling elite in the face of domestic opposition and calls for structural reform.
The revisions to the penal code were initiated by the country’s embattled leadership and was discussed and adopted in one session of the country’s Council of Ministers on May 30. Officials in Algiers have indicated that the revised penal code intends to strengthen efforts to combat terrorism, by estbalishing a list of “terrorist people and organizations.”
How the upcoming terrorist “black list”would help combat terrorism, few could explain.
A closer examination of the changes made to the penal code reveals a broad expansion of what the state considers terrorism. While the broadening of the term is indeed likely to lead to increased arrests on terrorism charges, the penal code revisions have no provisions that would actually arrest more extremists.
Instead, the new penal code now considers "any act aimed at the security of the state, national unity and the stability and normal functioning of institutions,” as a terrorist act.
This expansion is likely to concern journalist, Hirak protesters and government critics, as the terms defined as “terrorism” are the exact charges commonly used to arrest whomever the regime considers to be a critic.
The new penal code furthermore acts as an active deterrent to political change in Algeria. Algiers will now consider any action “to work or incite, by any means whatsoever, to gain power or to change the system of governance by non-constitutional means" as an act of terrorism.
The vast broadening of Algeria’s penal code is likely to result in its new “black list” being leveraged as a tool to scare critics and reporters into silence, in fear of being listed as a terrorist. Furthermore it will allow the regular prosecution of the country’s journalists to now be done under the guise of “combatting terrorism.”
Several of the charges described as terrorist acts have before been used to silence and imprison government critics, from established journalists such as Khaled Drareni (who was arrested again this week) to every-day citizens voicing their frustrations on social media.
Source: The Tennessee Tribune/Zenger News
Date: March 16, 2021
A call by the United Nations for Algeria’s government to investigate allegations of human rights abuses, including torture, arbitrary arrest and sexual assault, has so far gone unanswered.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on March 5 urged Algeria to launch “a quick, impartial and rigorous investigation” into allegations of severe human rights abuses against pro-democracy demonstrators.
Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the office of the high commissioner, said there were “credible reports” of torture by security forces, and that the United Nations was very concerned about deteriorating conditions in the country.
Thousands of Algerians have been taking part in demonstrations, known as Hirak, calling for a change in government and an end to the military’s control of political affairs. The demonstrations, which began in February 2019, resumed earlier this year after a hiatus due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“We are deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Algeria and the continued and growing repression of members of the pro-democracy Hirak movement,” Colville said.
He said hundreds of demonstrators have been prosecuted and at least 32 are currently detained. Some detainees were also arrested for posting messages on social media that criticized the government. Some have received long prison sentences for their part in pro-democracy activities.
PHOTO: A student protester who was beaten by police during a peaceful demonstration in March 2020 in Algiers.
The OHCHR said it was calling for an end to the violent repression, arrests and detentions. It also requested that Algeria give “immediate and unconditional release” to pro-democracy demonstrators and drop all charges against them.
Support for Algeria’s pro-democracy movement has come from the Algerian diaspora in France and Canada. Many in the diaspora have filed complaints and cases with the United Nations, denouncing the torture and human rights violations.
PHOTO: This image of Walid Nekkiche includes a statement about his claims of torture while in detention.
Among the cases brought to the attention of the OHCHR is that of Walid Nekkiche, a 25-year-old student who was allegedly raped with a broomstick by security forces while in custody. Nekkiche was released after charges of conspiracy against the state were dropped.
Another case before the OHCHR is that of activist Sami Darnouni, who has been in custody since December 2020. He was sentenced on March 2 to two years in prison on charges of undermining national security and incitement.
His lawyers deny the charges and say that Darnouni was “forced to confess under torture” during his interrogation at the Antar barracks. They said he was stripped, beaten and tortured with electric rods at the barracks in Ben Aknoun in Algiers, where he was transported after his arrest in Tipaza in northwest Algiers.
“The accusations against him are completely false and unjust,” said his lawyer, Haboul Abdellah. “There is no evidence of Mr. Darnouni’s involvement in any crime.”
When Darnouni’s trial began on Feb. 26, the prosecutor’s office of the Court of Tipaza requested that he be given a 10-year prison sentence.
The OHCHR has highlighted Darnouni’s case and that of at least 2,500 others who were arrested or detained during peaceful demonstrations as evidence of the use of excessive force by Algerian security forces.
Criminal proceedings initiated in 2019 and 2020 are continuing against activists, human rights defenders, students, journalists, bloggers and other citizens, the United Nations agency said.
The agency wants Algerian authorities to repeal the country’s laws under which protesters can be prosecuted for expressing negative opinions about the government or assembling peacefully to protest.
Meanwhile, harsh repression of Hirak demonstrations continues, with reports of elderly Algerians being beaten and of a 7-year-old child being picked up by police in the past week.
(Edited by Jewel Carmella Fraser and Judith Isacoff)
Source: The North Africa Post URL: [link] Date: March 8, 2021
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has officially called on the Algerian authorities to conduct “prompt and impartial investigations” into the allegations of torture and sexual abuse suffered by several inmates arrested during the Hirak who openly denounced the ill-treatment inflicted on them by the security services while in police custody.
Rupert Colville, Spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, officially called on the Algerian authorities to “prompt and impartial investigations” into the allegations of torture and sexual abuse made by several detainees in the country. Hirak who openly denounced the ill-treatment inflicted by the security services while in police custody.
In a statement posted Friday on the website of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Spokesman Rupert Colville said the UN body has instructed the Algerian regime to “conduct rapid, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment in detention.”
Rupert Colville also demanded that the Algerian authorities “hold to account all those responsible” for these infamous practices of torture “and to ensure that the victims have access to reparations.”
“We urge the authorities to repeal the legal provisions and policies used to prosecute people who exercise their rights to freedom of opinion and expression and peaceful assembly,” said Rupert Colville.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also brought up the issue of prisoners of conscience. The UN body called for the release of all those imprisoned for their political opinions and activities in favor of Hirak.
“We urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those arbitrarily arrested or detained for allegedly supporting the Hirak and to drop all charges against them,” Rupert Colville stated.
The UN body also denounced the resort to excessive force by Algerian security forces to suppress the peaceful demonstrations.
“There have been numerous instances across the country where security forces have used unnecessary or excessive force and arbitrary arrests to suppress peaceful demonstrations,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said.
“These developments echoed what happened earlier in 2019 and 2020, during which a total of at least 2,500 people were arrested or detained in connection with their peaceful activism,” he said.
“Similarly, the criminal prosecution in 2019 and 2020 of activists, human rights defenders, students, journalists, bloggers and ordinary citizens expressing dissent continued during the first two months of this year,” he added.
Since mid-February, thousands of Algerians have defied Covid-19 restrictions and took to the streets of Algiers and other cities across the country to commemorate the second anniversary of the Hirak movement and renew their demands for the end of the military junta rule and the establishment of a civilian democratic state.
by Pierre Sainte-Arnaud Source: Presse Canadienne URL: [link] Date: February 24, 2021
Several community groups are calling on Ottawa to free those who are being kept at an immigration detention centre in Laval after a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility.
According to information obtained by Solidarité sans frontières, several detainees are on hunger strike to protest poor standards of hygiene at the Centre de surveillance de l’immigration de Laval, saying they are at great risk.
At least five cases of COVID-19 were recorded among the detainees, but 12 to 15 people are in isolation at the facility. Visits have been cancelled since last March — a situation that severely limits their access to legal support and aggravates their isolation, the groups say.
According to accounts from detainees, they are being held in cramped quarters that are badly maintained and there is lots of dust in the air, which causes some to have breathing difficulty and irritations. The detainees say they are not even able to wash their clothes.
Those being held at the CSI Laval are awaiting deportation, are undocumented immigrants or entered Canada in an irregular manner, so they are considered to be flight risks.
However, the groups say their detention is both cruel and dangerous during the pandemic.
Source: The North Africa Post
Date: February 14, 2021
Algerian NGOs have announced Saturday in Algiers the setting up of a committee to fight torture and violence suffered by prisoners of conscience, after accusations of rape shocked the public opinion.
The testimony in early February of Walid Nekiche, a 25-year-old pro-democracy activist, who claims to have been tortured and sexually assaulted by members of the security services, triggered indignation and forced the general prosecutor of the Court of Algiers to open an investigation.
In reaction, several associations decided to set up a “Committee to fight torture and inhuman prison conditions of detainees in Algeria”, so that “justice is rendered.”
The new body brings together the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD), the National Coordination of Algerian Academics for Change and the Collective of lawyers for the defense of prisoners of conscience.
“By revealing in front of magistrates the abuse he was subjected to, Walid Nekkiche broke the omerta. He showed an exemplary courage,” said representatives of the anti-torture collective at a press conference in Algiers, reported AFP.
Walid Nekiche was arrested on November 26, 2019, for participation in an anti-regime demonstration, known as Hirak. The student, who was placed in pre-trial detention for 15 months, revealed during his trial on February 1 that he had been physically and verbally assaulted, tortured and raped during questioning carried out by elements of the Algerian security services, at the “Antar center”, a barracks on the outskirts of Algiers, notorious for such practices by the security services.
“They tortured me. They sexually assaulted me. They took away my dignity.” It was in these three sentences that Walid Nekiche broke the omerta in a court in eastern Algeria, bringing back to minds the specter of torture in the North African country.
“His rape is our rape, all of us as a people, civil society, activists. It must not go unpunished,” journalist Zoheïr Aberkane, member of the newly created committee, was quoted by AFP as saying.
“We have filed a complaint and we are asking the courts to intervene according to Algerian and international laws”, another member of the committee, lawyer Nacera Hadouche, said.
“The preliminary investigation by the prosecution must not be yet another subterfuge to calm anger and indignation” and “places of torture such as the ‘Antar barracks’ must be banned”, the committee demands.
According to the committee, “the conditions of arrest, incarceration and detention of detainees reported by lawyers confirm cases of ill-treatment, violence and torture in various police structures and security services, as well as in prisons.”
The case of Walid Nekiche was also referred to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights by Riposte Internationale, a NGO for the defense of human rights.
Meanwhile, Communication Minister Ammar Belhimer continues to claim that “there are no prisoners of conscience in Algeria,” while the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD) affirms that more than 70 people have been arrested for participating in the Hirak movement and are currently in illegal pre-trial detention.
Walid Nekiche’s case broke out in a context of tension for the regime as the second anniversary of the “Hirak” is nearing. The Hirak for regime change started on February 22, 2019 and prompted two months later the resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Date: February 14, 2021
Algerian rights organisations and lawyers have formed a new coalition demanding investigations into allegations of rape and torture of opposition supporters held in custody.
The National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD), the National Co-ordination of Algerian Academics for Change and the Collective of Lawyers for the Defence of Prisoners of Conscience announced the committee on Saturday after Walid Nekkiche claimed he was beaten and raped by security forces earlier this month.
The 25-year-old student was detained in November during a march by students as part of the anti-government protest movement known as the Hirak, which marks its second anniversary on February 22.
The CNLD estimates that more than 70 people are currently imprisoned in Algeria in connection with the protests.
“If today we ask for a trial, it is a fair trial: the torturers have not been directly condemned, we have filed a complaint, we have told the justice system to intervene according to domestic and international laws,” Algerian lawyer Nacera Hadouche said.
Journalist Zoheir Aberkane said: “What shocked us is that when Walid Nekkiche is abused, we are all abused, as a people, as civil society, as activists, as citizens, etc. And that, in my opinion, should not go unpunished.”
(c) Copyright Morningstar Online. All rights reserved.
Algerian NGOs create committee to protect prisoners after rape claims
by Afia Owusu
Source: Ghana Crusader
Date: February 15, 2021
Rights groups in Algeria have created a new committee to fight against abuse of prisoners after claims by 25-year-old protester Walid Nekkiche who was beaten and raped by security forces while in custody.
The committee says it will fight against what they call out as torture and inhuman prison conditions.
“What shocked us is that when Walid Nekkiche is abused, we are all abused, as a people, as civil society, as activists, as citizens, etc. And that, in my opinion, should not go unpunished,” said Algerian journalist Zoheir Aberkane.
The committee is made up of the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD), the National Coordination of Algerian Academics for Change and the Collective of lawyers for the defense of prisoner of conscience.
The CNLD estimates more than 70 people are currently imprisoned in Algeria in connection with the Hirak protests or for individual freedoms.
“If today we ask for a trial, it is a fair trial: the torturers have not been directly condemned, we have filed a complaint, we have told the justice system to intervene according to domestic and international laws,” said Algerian lawyer Nacéra Hadouche.
Nekkiche, a student, was arrested in November during a march by students of the anti-government Hirak protest movement.
The second anniversary of the Hirak is on February 22.
The movement forced the resignation of President Bouteflika but they still protest against the government to this day.
Date: February 7, 2021
The testimony of a young Algerian democracy student who claims to have been tortured by members of the security services sparked indignation in Algeria for several days.
“I lived through hell,” said 25-year-old Walid Nekkiche, who was recently released after more than a year in prison in the French-language daily Liberté. “I went through a lot during those fourteen months in prison, and especially the six days I spent in the Ben Aknoun barracks,” known as the Antar Center in Algiers, testifies to the student at the Higher Institute of Sciences of the Sea and Regional Planning (Ismal).
“There was a lot of pressure on me. After this long and excruciating passage in this eerie place, I was introduced to the examining magistrate of the court of Bab El-Oued (north of Algiers) before I was imprisoned in El Harrach prison.” he added.
Sentenced to six months in prison
The young man was released Wednesday after being sentenced to six months in prison for “distributing and possessing leaflets in order to harm the interest of the country”. The prosecutor of the Dar El Beida court in Algiers on Monday requested a life sentence against the student, who was charged with “conspiracy against the state”, “attacking the integrity of the national territory” and “inciting the population to take up arms” very much serious charges under Algerian law.
Tizi Ouzou, a native of Kabylia, was accused of belonging to the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylia, an illegal separatist organization, according to Algerian media. “Fortunately, I did not collapse because I was confident that the lawyers were determined and well equipped to bring the false charges against me. I had to hold on for my parents,” said Walid. Nekkiche from Liberty.
I was attacked sexually, physically and verbally
During the trial on Monday, the student said he was “sexually, physically and verbally assaulted by security services during his interrogation.”
The discovery of this abuse sparked outrage and received extensive commentary on some media and social networks, with calls for an investigation increasing. Authorities have not commented.
“We asked for an independent investigation and a judicial investigation to be opened to determine who was responsible,” said Said Salhi, vice-president of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights.
The request follows “serious statements” made by Walid Nekkiche during his trial in which he alleged “he was tortured in police custody,” Salhi said. According to him, the student’s attorney filed a complaint in July but “there was no follow-up”.
In a joint statement, the National Committee for the Liberation of Prisoners (CNLD) and the National Coordination of Algerian Academics for Change condemned “torture” and “normalization of violence, which in Algeria are reaching alarming proportions”.
Walid Nekkiche was arrested on November 26, 2019 in Algiers during a weekly march by students of the anti-regime protest movement “Hirak”, born in February 2019.
His co-defendant Kamel Bensaad (43) was acquitted. According to the CNLD, around 80 people are currently detained in Algeria in connection with the “Hirak” protests and / or individual freedoms. In at least 90% of cases, law enforcement is based on publications on social networks that are critical of the authorities.
by: Matthew Behrens
Source: Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture
Date: December 10, 2020
Please send a season’s greeting card or letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to stop the persecution of Ottawa refugee Mohamed Harkat, still fighting to end his deportation to torture and win his long-deserved permanent residence (samples below. No postage needed!). December holidays are rooted in freeing the captives, bringing good news to the poor and brokenhearted, and liberation of the oppressed. You can send the greetings postage-free, and it will have far more impact in the age of electronic communication. Sample messages are below.
Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture
Starting December 10, 2002, Mohamed (Moe) Harkat was illegally held for 43 months in maximum security detention without charge on secret allegations he was not allowed to properly contest. He was held under legislation unanimously found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2007.
by Lital Khaikin
Source: Canadian Dimension
Date: September 18, 2020
Canada still hasn’t ratified OPCAT, revealing apathy of Canadian politicians toward human rights standards
Protocol against torture
Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic revealed cracks in Canada’s social services, but it has also shone a stronger light on the shameful conditions endured by inmates in both criminal and immigrant detention centres. Now Canada is facing increasing scrutiny of detention conditions and how they exacerbate racial and economic discrimination.
Earlier this spring, for example, refugees detained at the Laval Immigration Holding Centre held a hunger strike against the abusive treatment meted out by guards and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). Well into June, over a hundred inmates at the super-jail in Lindsay, Ontario went on a hunger strike to protest unsanitary conditions and disregard for dietary needs and restrictions. And just a few months ago, the Canadian military was sent in to report on Québec’s long-term care homes, where the province’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks resulted in thousands of preventable deaths, and where seniors were subject to despicable neglect and deprived of their dignity.
What these cases have in common is a lack of consistent oversight and accountability mechanisms to ensure humane treatment. But here in Canada, the connection has rarely been made with a solution that has been embraced by many other countries.
Over 30 years ago, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force as most of the world’s countries agreed to ban the use of torture and establish international standards to hold one another accountable. Through an arduous 11-year process, the United Nations followed this up with another agreement, requiring countries to adopt a preventative mechanism for inspections and oversight of state detention facilities.
This treaty came to be known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). It entered into force in 2006—the same year that Canada was elected to the UN Human Rights Council. But somehow, despite early leadership in developing the Convention Against Torture, almost 15 years of successive Canadian governments have failed to make the prevention of torture in Canadian facilities a priority.
The definition of torture is wide-ranging; it includes “severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental” that is intentionally inflicted to obtain information, to punish, to intimidate or coerce, or “for any reason based on discrimination” with the instigation or consent of a public official. OPCAT is thus relevant not only to police and military facilities, but also any places where people are deprived of freedom. These include immigration detention facilities, senior care centres, psychiatric facilities, and group homes.
OPCAT forces government departments and institutions to decide on how they will meet standards of humane treatment. For Canada to ratify OPCAT would mean creating what’s known as a National Preventative Mechanism (NPM), which would serve as an independent body that visits places of detention to ensure that conditions conform to international standards. It would also integrate existing inspections and oversight mechanisms, like Canada’s Office of the Correctional Investigator.
Click on the photo of Mohamed to see all items related to him. JUNE 2017: Mohamed Harkat once again faces deportation to his native Algeria after the Supreme Court of Canada declared the federal government’s security certificate regime constitutional.
This fight is not over. The Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee will re-double its efforts to see that justice is done for Mohamed Harkat and that the odious security certificate system of injustice is abolished once and for all.
Here is the contact information for Sophie Harkat.
Email Sophie: [email]
* * * * * *
Our Legal Team:
Barbara Jackman, Lead Public Counsel for Mohamed Harkat
Jackman, Nazami & Associates
Barristers and Solicitors
596 St. Clair Avenue West
Tel.: (416) 653-9964
* * * * * *
Christian Legeais, spokesperson and bilingual media contact: