EU parliament warns about human rights violations in Algeria committed while the population is busy facing the pandemic

In less than a month, two European Parliament appeals have come to remind us that even during the pandemic, the Algerian authorities continue to violate the most basic rights of citizens through unfair trials against human rights defenders

If these arrests come to point the finger at a deep uneasiness that Algerian society has lived for a long time, they have cracked the lead screed that the Algerian authorities want to maintain on the abuses they commit, even in this period of health crisis, ignoring orders from the international community and appeals from human rights NGOs.

At a time when several countries around the world have responded positively to the appeal of Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to release the detainees to prevent the spread of the coronavirus from wreaking havoc in the often overcrowded prisons of the country, the Algerian authorities continue to judge and arrest activists .

The European Parliament has taken up this unprecedented situation in the world by one of its most influential and most listened to bodies, namely the Sub-Committee on Human Rights, relayed by another structure for external relations. from the same parliamentary institution, in this case the famous DMAG (Delegation of the European Parliament, responsible for relations with the Maghreb countries).

In a joint statement released on March 26, the chair of the human rights subcommittee, Maria Arena, and the chair of the European Parliament delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries, Andrea Cozzolino, denounced the “judicial harassment” of which the Algerian human rights activist Karim Tabbou is a victim, particularly in this context of health crisis.

They recall in their joint declaration that this leader of the Algerian Hirak “had to leave the prison of Koléa Thursday March 26, after having served his sentence, and this, in accordance with the verdict of the court of March 11, 2020”, but Karim Tabbou was of again sentenced, in the absence of his lawyers, to a new prison sentence.

“While we are all suffering from the global health crisis, we call on the new Algerian authorities to take all the measure that such a decision could have on the physical integrity of Mr. Tabbou and that of all the detainees of Hirak , as well as serious public health risks, ”they add.

A few days later and in view of the urgent and highly humanitarian nature of this case, the presidents of the two bodies of the European Parliament called on the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Joseph Borrell through to request immediate intervention to release this leader, as well as all prisoners of opinion in Algeria.

The two presidents recalled that at least 173 people are still awaiting trial for having participated in the peaceful Hirak protests, and ask the Algerian authorities to release the detainees.

If the news of the coronavirus precipitated the triggering of these mechanisms at the level of the European Parliament, the subject of human rights in Algeria is not foreign to the European institutions, since it was repeatedly on the menu of meetings of the Algeria-EU Association Council and of political dialogue between the two parties and was the subject of dozens of parliamentary questions and resolutions at the level of the European Parliament, not to mention the debates at the level of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

In this context, it is important to recall the European Parliament resolution of 28 November 2019 condemning massive human rights violations in Algeria, violence against activists and demonstrators, proven cases of torture and the political religious persecution, which resulted in particular in the closing of churches.

The same resolution called on the Algerian authorities to put an end to all forms of intimidation, including judicial and legislative harassment, criminalization, as well as arbitrary arrests and detentions against peaceful demonstrators, defenders of  human rights, journalists and bloggers, and to take the necessary measures to guarantee their physical and psychological protection, their security and their freedom to carry out their legitimate and peaceful activities. Algeria’s reaction was treating the European Parliament and its honorable members of all names .

Amina Souafi

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