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2012-06-28

Algerian activists concerned about freedom of assembly

By Walid Ramzi for Magharebia in Algiers – 28/06/12

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Algerian human rights defenders and trade unionists face obstacles in exercising their right to protest, activists and lawyers say.

In the latest incident, a Sidi M'hamed court on Wednesday (June 27th) handed blogger Tarek Mameri an eight-month suspended sentence and a fine of 100,000 dinars for publishing pictures and videos on the Internet in which he called for a boycott of the parliamentary elections. Mameri was tried on charges of destroying public property after taking down election posters and burning his voter’s card.

A number of civil society actors denounced what they described as judicial harassment against activists accused of staging demonstrations without a permit. They alleged that the executive branch exerts pressure on the judiciary to persecute human rights defenders.

A group of civil society actors, activists, rights defenders and MPs on June 19th gathered outside the Bab El Oued Court to voice support for four rights activists prosecuted for inciting protests. Yacine Zaid, Athmane Aouameur, Abdou Bendjoudi and Lakhdar Bouzini in late April staged a demonstration in support of their activist Abdelkader Kherba.

Kherba, a member of the National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Unemployed (CNDDC) and the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH), was convicted for "inciting the crowd and impersonating others" after his participation in the protest of clerks on hunger strike. The activist was sentenced to a one-year suspended term and a fine of 20,000 dinars.

According to the hearing judge, the court postponed deliberations in the case of the four activists until September 27th in order to examine the file. The defence deemed this delay strange, considering that the file is baseless and contains no details requiring time to study.

Among protestors outside the Bab El Oued Court was Mustapha Bouchachi, a leading candidate of the Algerian Socialist Forces Front and the LADDH's former chief.

The heavy turnout signalled a strong solidarity with the activists on trial, according to lawyer Amine Sidhoum.

He added that the file is baseless and contains only two papers, no more and no less, and that the activists have not committed any offence but participated in a peaceful protest in support of their fellow activist.

The LADDH denounced what they deemed to be a judicial harassment against a number of human rights activists, saying they were being prosecuted on the basis of Article 100 of the Penal Code. The league's statement read that the prosecutions only aim at stifling freedoms and represent a serious violation of freedom of assembly, even though it is a constitutional right guaranteed in domestic law and international covenants on human rights ratified by Algeria.

According to the statement, those behind these prosecutions are contradicting commitments declared by the President of the Republic in terms of political reforms and the exercise of collective and individual freedoms.

The Network of Algerian Lawyers for the Defence of Human Rights also condemned the prosecution of the four rights activists, describing the charge against them as unfounded. It decried what it called "using the judicial bodies as means of pressure against all those who demand their rights".

In addition, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) demanded an immediate release of the activists and an end to the trial. The group said the trial of the activists was a "flagrant violation of freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom to demonstrate, and aims to crack down on civil society in Algeria".

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    kiko 2012-7-6

    There are no “provinces” in Algeria’s territorial organisation. But perhaps we are not speaking of the same country? Surely so!!!

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    chaâbi 2012-7-5

    To Hafou- Who holds the files for your mafia? It is the super mafia without borders, God or law. Your Bouchachi has long been in bed with the super mafia, to which you belong. He want to make the law everywhere, and even during the spring!!!

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    hafou 2012-7-3

    Mr Bouchachi! It is shameful for you to run in the legislative elections given that you are the president of the Human Rights League! Please, Mr Bouchachi, resign from this team of mafiosi. Do you know that you are even supporting gays? So, hurry up before you end up on the mafia’s list.

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    عايشي رضا 2012-6-29

    Peaceful civil society, seeking the help of God, on the basis of the statements of Dr Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi about what happens in the country, many Algerians have fought and suffered for it during the era of the coloniser by the administrative institutions of the colonising state from the judiciary, municipality and social affairs. The first one responsible is the judiciary through the executive side. This is confirmed by the absence of the right in cases brought up to them or when they are assigned to control a mission. They are subject to bribery or intervention of authorities to issue orders by the public prosecutor in the council of the capital, which surpasses the competences of supervising judges to control elections. Moreover, the minister of the interior Mr Dahou Ould Kablia said on April 21 that it is not possible to win a majority in the parliament, according to the Algerian press, or cover up the director of a hospital who violated the honour of a girl and imprison or prosecute anyone who tries to shed light on violations in prisons or shed light on the situation of prisoners who are victim of such violations or besiege him until he is forced to emigrate illegally or fall prey to terrorism in order to stand in the face of injustice and protest in his way, especially when the chief of a federation in the republic for the sector of workers in municipalities which depends on the union of public service calls for protesting the intentional errors in names and surnames of Algerians, force them to go to justice in order to correct the error. This has made people who have applied to get a social housing since 2003 like the young man B. Sufiane from the province of Batna, file no 20057 but didn’t get it to this day in his hometown. Moreover, there are contracts to clean the city but it is not cleaned until there is a visit by a personality or official who didn’t notice that the ground was painted in green to make people believe that it is grass in spite of signing 8 conventions with the United Nations including the right to a clean environment. But how is this possible when workers of the municipality of Batna practice intentionally deceit? The persistence of the mentality has left Algerians under the feet of the coloniser for over 130 years by removing even garbage containers which led to the proliferation of scourges and mosquitoes with which God guided many and misguided many. But those who are misguided are the ones who want it to be crooked and they are supporters of dirt who don’t have morals of Muslims. However, the odd thing is that they use deceit through state institutions. As for the madame who talks about legal advice, on the ground law is not implemented. We have evidence. God, the words of the oppressed aren’t taken into consideration.

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