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UN Special Rapporteur calls for release of human rights defenders in Algeria

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UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, called for the release of all human rights defenders imprisoned in Algeria, for having used their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

In a report published following an official visit to Algeria, Lawlor called for “not intimidating or targeting human rights defenders and not limiting their freedom of movement both in Algeria and abroad”.

She also underlined the need to amend the articles of the Penal Code relating to “terrorism and undermining national unity, which are used to restrict the activity of human rights defenders”, while calling for adopting the Associations Act.

Lawlor highlighted the case of Kamira Nait Sid, human rights defender and co-president of the World Amazigh Congress (CMA), who was sentenced to three years in prison for “undermining national unity”, an offense vaguely defined by the Algerian law.

She also highlighted the case of Ahmed Manseri, in pre-trial detention, who is under investigation on charges relating to interviews he gave to foreign media on the protection of human rights.

“Human rights defenders and civil society organizations shall be able to breathe, organize, assemble freely and publish their ideas and critiques,” in line with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the rapporteur underlined.

In her opening remarks regarding her visit (from November 25 to December 5), Lawlor noted that “it is clear that human rights defenders who choose to operate outside the framework offered to civil society by the government are facing serious difficulties”, adding that “this also impacts their families.”

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