Posts Tagged ‘Algeria’

Ahmed Reda Benchemsi, HRW staff member, expelled from Algeria

August 21, 2019

Former Moroccan journalist Ahmed Reda Benchemsi. / Ph. DR

On 20 August 2019 Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced Algeria’s expulsion of former Moroccan journalist Ahmed Reda Benchemsi, who acts as its Middle East communications and advocacy director. In a statement, the NGO recalled that Benchemsi arrived in Algeria on August 1 on behalf of the organization. Police arrested him on August 9 around 2 pm, while he «was observing the 25th consecutive Friday pro-democracy demonstration in downtown Algiers». Authorities confiscated his phone and laptop and «ordered him to provide his passwords to unlock both devices, which he refused to do».

«Ahmed Benchemsi was in Algiers simply doing his job observing human rights conditions», executive director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth said. «His arbitrary arrest and mistreatment send the message that authorities don’t want the world to know about the mass protests for more democracy in Algeria», Roth added.

Benchemsi lawfully entered Algeria and revealed his professional affiliation at the request of the authorities, said HRW, recalling that the Moroccan had already made three trips to Algeria since 2017 on behalf of the organization. The Algerian authorities have not, at any time, informed Benchemsi of the charges he could be facing or the legal basis to confiscate and keep his passports, his telephone and his laptop, or to demand that he provides the passwords of the devices, he denounces. «Benchemsi’s mistreatment is a sobering reminder of the risks faced every day by Algerian human rights defenders exposing and reporting on government abuses», Roth concluded.

https://en.yabiladi.com/articles/details/82356/denounces-arrest-mistreatment-ahmed-reda.html

https://allafrica.com/stories/201908200439.html

Profile of Human Rights Defender Nadia Ait Zai from Algeria

October 22, 2018

Human Rights Defender Nadia Ait Zai from Algeria works for the rights of women. This is another of the profiles recently published by European External Action Service (EEAS) in the context of the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/10/04/chia-wei-chi-first-in-series-of-videos-by-european-external-action-service/].

https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/51512/human-rights-defenders-nadia-ait-zai-algeria_en

Breaking news: Five Front Line award winners 2018 announced

May 18, 2018

Front Line Defenders today – 18 May 2018 – announced the five winners of its 2018 Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, naming Soni Sori (India), Nurcan Baysal (Turkey), the LUCHA movement (Democratic Republic of Congo), La Resistencia Pacífica de la Microregión de Ixquisis (Guatemala), and Hassan Bouras (Algeria) as the Regional Winners. Nurcan Baysal was also named the Global Laureate for 2018, and UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore presented her with the Award during a ceremony at Dublin’s City Hall. 2018 marks an important change in format: instead of one winner Front Line Defenders now recognises defenders from five different countries as Regional Winners. [for 2017: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/05/26/lawyer-wins-front-lines-2017-human-rights-award-for-helping-crimean-tartars/]

The defenders we’re honouring today work in some of the most dangerous areas of the world, sacrificing their own security to peacefully demand justice and human rights for their communities,” said Andrew Anderson, Executive Director of Front Line Defenders, as he announced the winners in Dublin.

—-

Nurcan Baysal, Turkey – Regional Winner for Europe & Central Asia & Global Laureate

Nurcan is a Kurdish journalist and human rights defender based in Diyarbakir. When the government launched a military offensive in the south-east in 2016, Nurcan spent months visiting Kurdish villages under bombardment, documenting human rights violations, and stopping to help families who’d lost everything in the conflict. Her writings are known for their critical focus on voice women living under the bombardment. When the authorities launched a military operation in Afrin, Nurcan took to social media to demand peace and condemn the violent assault. She was detained for speaking against the violence, and although later released she now faces up to 3 years in jail in a separate case related to her writing. Nurcan, according to authorities’ absurd claims, had “spread propaganda for armed terrorist organizations … and a call for provocative actions.” In addition to her reporting, Nurcan has also co-founded several NGOs, set up a camp to help Yazidi women fleeing the Islamic State, and been a key voice in countless reconciliation programs in the region. [see also: http://bianet.org/english/human-rights/197288-kurdish-journalist-baysal-wins-frontline-defenders-human-rights-prize]

 

Soni Sori, India – Regional Winner for Asia

Soni Sori is an indigenous and women’s rights defender in the militarised Bastar region of Chattisghar, India, where state-backed paramilitary forces are waging a violent campaign against local Adivasi tribes in the name of combating an armed Maoist insurgency. Soni documents and advocates against violence perpetrated by the paramilitary and police forces, which includes razing villages, burning homes, raping local women, and torturing and sexually assaulting tribes people detained without cause. Soni has also defended a number of educational centres from destruction by Maoist groups. In retaliation for her work, security forces detained and tortured Soni, pushing stones inside of her body and assaulting her for hours. Years later, men attacked her with acid and threatened to do the same to her daughter if she did not cease her advocacy on behalf of tribeswomen raped by the security forces. She has refused to stop her work, and continues to travel into the Maoist regions to speak with survivors of the ongoing conflict. [see also: https://feminisminindia.com/2018/05/18/soni-sori-wins-front-line-defenders-award/and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/02/23/human-rights-defenders-in-india-democracy-is-not-enough/

Peaceful Resistance of the Micro-Region of Ixquisis, Guatemala – Regional Winner for the Americas

La Resistencia Pacífica de la Microregión de Ixquisis formed in response to grave rights violations committed in the name of economic advancement in Guatemala. The government has authorised destructive mining and hydroelectric mega-projects in the region despite the widespread opposite from the 59 villages and 7 communities in the municipality. HRDs in the Peaceful Resistance risk their lives to defend the territory. In 2016 alone, there were more than 75 reported attacks against HRDs in the Peaceful Resistance including killings, shootings, harassment, and defamation campaigns.

 

LUCHA, DRC – Regional Winner for Africa

LUCHA is a non-partisan youth movement formed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that struggles against chronic corruption and impunity in the DRC. Initially focused on

local issues like access to drinking water, electricity, and youth unemployment, in just 6 years the movement has developed into an extensive national-level network of powerful social organisers. Peaceful protests and demonstrations led by LUCHA are routinely attacked by authorities. In October 2017, 5 young protests were killed during a LUCHA-organised demonstration, and many of their members and leaders having been arrested and detained during peaceful assemblies. The Congolese national intelligence agency has detained several members, who have endured physical and psychological abuse in detention.

Hassan Bouras – Regional Winner for the Middle East & North Africa

Hassan Bouras is a journalist, blogger, leading member of the Algerian League of Human Rights, and founding member of the Rejection Front, a coalition against fracking to extract shale gas in Algeria. His reporting on both corruption and torture in Algeria spans more than two decades and because of this work he has been repeatedly targeted by Algerian authorities. He has continued his writing and advocacy despite years of judicial harassment, arbitrary detentions, violent raids on his home, and imprisonment.

————–

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/front-line-defenders-award

Shackled Freedoms : what space for human rights defenders in the EuroMed?

September 7, 2016

 

cover-en-shackled-freedomThe recent report SHACKLED FREEDOMS : WHAT SPACE FOR CIVIL SOCIETY IN THE EUROMED? depicts the obstacles and repression against civil society in the region and showcases first-hand accounts from Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, Syria, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories among others. The report also features recommendations by CSOs for joint action and seeks to influence EU policies to that effect. The report also focuses on the impact of security and anti-terrorist policies and lists the growing arsenal of repressive measures – both in law and practice – that civil society organizations (CSOs) face on a daily basis: judicial harassment, surveillance, arbitrary arrests, torture and assassination.

Despite legal safeguards and the human rights “shared values” rhetoric in the EU, EuroMed Rights argues that European civil society is under increasing pressure. Austerity measures and anti-terrorism laws are increasingly used to legitimise practices that go against individual freedoms and rights of assembly, association and expression, such as in France, Spain or the UK, for instance. The report – published on 7 September 2016 – is the result of a seminar organised in April 2016 as an open dialogue between EU representatives, South Mediterranean activists and Brussels-based CSOs.

 DOWNLOAD THE REPORT


 

Source: Shackled Freedoms : What Space for Civil Society in the EuroMed? – EuroMed Rights – Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network

Algerian government fails to prove accusation against human rights defenders held in Italy

September 17, 2015

On 15 September 2015, the Turin Court of Appeal ruled to release Algerian human rights defender Mr Rachid Mesli, who has been under house arrest since 22 August 2015, and to allow him to leave the country, as reported by Front Line Defenders.

 

The human rights defender was released before the end of the 40 day period during which the Algerian government could submit a formal request for extradition. The Court recognised Rachid Mesli’s important and peaceful work in the defence of human rights, as well as the high risk of torture he would face if returned to Algeria. While the court is yet to make its final decision on the extradition warrant, the release order highlighted that, according to the information received, Rachid Mesli’s human rights activities were not in any way related to terrorism.

On 22 August, the Italian court placed the human rights defender under house arrest following three days in detention in Aosta prison. Rachid Mesli was arrested on 19 August 2015 (https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/29390) as he travelled to Italy on holiday with his wife and son. The arrest occurred as a result of an arrest warrant issued by the Algerian authorities in April 2002 on terrorism-related charges.

[Rachid Mesli is the Legal Director of Alkarama, an independent human rights organisation based in Geneva that works to assist victims of extra-judicial executions, disappearances, torture and arbitrary detention in Arab states. And this is not first effort by the Algerian government see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/mourad-dhina-algerian-head-of-the-human-rights-organization-alkarama-detained-in-france/]

Interesting tot note Front Line Defenders’ call on Interpol to ensure the legitimacy of all warrants issued by its members and to put in place safeguards so that the system cannot be abused in order to target human rights defenders.

Algeria and Egypt: more non-cooperation and less access

February 13, 2014

Here two recent examples of non-cooperation in relation to requests for access by international human rights mechanisms:

  • On 11 February 2014 five international human rights organisations issued a statement decrying Algeria’s lack of cooperation in allowing UN human rights experts and international human rights organizations to visit the country. Algeria may have joined the UN Human Rights Council in January 2014, but it  has not agreed to visits by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, despite their repeated requests. Similarly the Algerian authorities have refused to grant visas to nongovernmental  human rights organizations for several years. “Algeria remains the only country among its neighbors that generally restricts access to human rights organizations,” said Eric Goldstein, of Human Rights Watch. [The 5 NGOs making the appeal are Amnesty International, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, Human Rights Watch and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint program of the International Federation for Human Rights FIDH, and the World Organization Against Torture OMCT].
  • Today, 14 February it became known that the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, was denied a request to visit prisoners during his visit to Egypt [he announced this on Twitter after meeting with Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat.] Lambrinidis described the refusal as a “direct contradiction” to the Ministry of Interior’s “press release promising greater openness to such visits”. Only two days earlier – amid mounting allegations of torture inside places of detention – the Ministry of Interior had issued a statement welcoming requests from NGOs wishing to visit prisons. [Lambrinidis held an open discussion with 30 human rights defenders  from local and international NGOs earlier this week, stating that the Egyptian government must respect peaceful free expression and human rights communities.]

via:

http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/02/13/eu-human-rights-envoy-denied-access-prisoners/#sthash.hEciHx9r.dpuf

Algeria: Allow Rights Groups to Visit – No Response from Algiers to Requests from UN Bodies / February 11, 2014 / Urgent Interventions / Human rights defenders / OMCT.

Euro-Mediterranean Foundation Supporting Human Rights Defenders focus on Syria, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt in 2012 report

October 15, 2013

Euro Med Foundation for HRDs
Almost three years after the onset of its “Revolutions”, the Arab region continues to bear stark contrasts within its democratic track. Whereas a new era has been instigated and elections have been held in five countries Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Libya and Algeria, major violations of human rights persist on multiple levels and by different actors including non-governmental players. On 8 October The Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders (EMHRF) released its Annual report on 2012. Driss El Yazami, President of the EMHRF, notes that “an irreversible process is ongoing and involves emancipating countries from authoritarianism and political despotism. The Arab people have entered a new and decisive era for the future of democracy and human rights. Beyond the complexity of this transition, the initiated process is strongly influenced by the strengthened role played by human rights defenders. They are key players in overcoming new challenges and working peacefully towards the realization of a democratic and citizen-driven model for living together.”
The civil society movement continues to prove to be extremely dynamic and effective in guaranteeing respect for fundamental freedoms and preventing any appropriation of the newly acquired freedoms. Nonetheless, this movement is weakened by significant threats, shortages in human and financial resources and difficulties in joining forces. Particular attention was paid to Syria, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.
This report is available in Arabic, English and French.

http://www.emhrf.org/en/activityreports.php <http://www.emhrf.org/en/activityreports.php

And more about other human rights film festivals in developing countries

June 6, 2013

ALGERIA – WESTERN SAHARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

The Western Sahara International Film Festival (FiSahara) is an annual event that uses film to entertain and empower Sahrawi refugees and to raise international awareness about a forgotten crisis. From 7 to 13 October 2013, the 10th edition of the festival takes place in Dakhla, the most remote of the refugee camps in Southwestern Algeria. In close coöperation with the local NGO Polisario, FiSahara shows 28 different films on two screens. The festival also provides workshops, roundtables, cultural activities and spectacular camel races. Besides 5,000 local attendees, about 160 international visitors are expected. This year, the festival initiates a special human rights section.

BANGLADESH – OUTREACH ‘ARE YOU LISTENING!’

The award-winning documentary Are You Listening in Bangladesh follows Bangladeshi people who are impacted by floods, but fighting back to reclaim their livelihoods and dignity. The film has been screened at festivals worldwide, but the average Bangladeshi has not yet had an opportunity to see it. Now, from December 2013 to November 2014, the film will be screened in all 64 districts of the country. Each of these screenings, organised in close coöperation with local film societies, will be followed by Q&A’s about the impact of climate change on society. This will give more than 30.000 people the chance to see the film and join the debate.

BURKINA FASO – CINÉ DROIT LIBRE FESTIVAL VILLAGE

From 22-29 June 2013 the 9th edition of the human rights film festival Ciné Droit Librewill be held in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. To bring the film festival closer to the audience and lower the barriers for the less-privileged citizens of the city, a new venue is established: the “festival village”. In this open-air venue in the middle of a popular neighborhood, 12 human rights related films will be screened. In addition, music concerts, animation screenings and debates are organised for the 8,000 – 10,000 expected visitors.

BURMA – HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN DIGNITY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Movies that Matter supports the organisation of a travelling human rights film festival in Burma. After the 1st human rights film festival in Yangon, which will take place from 15 to 19 June 2013, a selection of the festival films will be screened in 13 cities in Myanmar/Burma, with about 80 screenings and 26 discussions in the entire country. The programme focuses on freedom of expression, freedom of religion and discrimination against women. With this travelling festival, which will take place in the second half of 2013, the organisation Human Dignity Media Organization aims to attract over 10,000 Burmese visitors.

CAMEROON – BAMENDA HUMAN RIGHTS TRAVELLING FILM AND ARTS FESTIVAL

The 3rd edition of the Bamenda Human Rights Travelling Film and Arts Festival runs from 15-22 July 2013. The festival reaches audiences in seven urban communities in Bamenda, located in the northwest of Cameroon. A total of 30 film screenings will be held in community halls, school campuses and cafes all over the city. In addition to watching film, the 10,000 visitors can participate in 15 debates and enjoy a drawing exhibition on human rights. The 7-day festival, set up by the organisation A Common Future, will focus on various themes, including violence against women, children rights and the rights of minorities and indigenous people.

ECUADOR – AMAZONIAN FILM FOR ALL

To raise attention about the rights of the inhabitants of the Ecuadorian Amazon,Fundación Pachamama organises a travelling film festival in different cities in Ecuador. These cities, including Guayaquil, Cuenca, Ibarra and Manta, are located outside of the Amazon. In each of these cities, six films will be screened about the conservation of the Amazon and the survival of its indigenous peoples. In addition, during these three-day festivals, debates and photo exhibitions about the human rights violations in the Amazon are organised. The organisers expect to reach at least 3,750 urban citizens. Movies that Matter also supported an earlier mobile cinema project of Fundación Pachamama, Cine Amazonico, which took place in February 2012.

GUATEMALA & EL SALVADOR – JUSTICE FOR MY SISTER: REDEFINING MASCULINITY TOUR

Violence against women is still very common in Central America. The documentary Justice for my Sister shows the determination of a Guatemalan lady to find the assassin of her sister, and bring him to justice despite prejudices, opposition and corruption. The film will be screened between July and October 2013, as part of a training about women’s rights in Guatemala and El Salvador. The organisations “Aquí Entre Hombres” and “Colectivo Justicia para mi Hermana” will organise a total of 17 screenings of the film for almost 2,400 representatives of police, public prosecutors, the ministries of education and unions. The project includes dubbing the film in the Quiche language and developing educational materials about addressing violence against women.

PALESTINE – KARAMA HUMAN RIGHTS FILM FESTIVAL

The theatre organisation ASHTAR is organising the first human rights film festival in the occupied Palestinian territory. With 40 film screenings, 12 debates and various music concerts and theatre events, the festival advocates for human rights all across the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. The organisers assume that around 5,000 visitors – especially youth – will participate in the festival, which is scheduled to take place from 10 – 20 December 2013. This new festival is organised in close coöperation with the Karama Human Rights Film Festival in Jordan, which started in 2010 with support from Movies that Matter.

UGANDA – MANYA HUMAN RIGHTS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

In December 2013, the 4th edition of the Manya Human Rights International Film Festival will be held in Kampala. The 5-day festival screens over 50 films in the National Theatre and more than 40 other locations in and around the Ugandan capital, including video halls and outdoor locations. This year’s programme focuses on the role of social media in promoting the rule of law, good governance, democracy and transparency. For this edition the Manya Cultural Foundation expects more than 10,000 visitors. The foundation also plans to set up a forum with organisers of human rights film festivals in East Africa.

These are the 9 projects that have been supported through the Movies that Matter Support Programme in 2013:

from http://www.moviesthatmatter.nl/english_index/international/support_programme/supported_projects/supported_projects_2013

 

Recent situation of human rights defenders in Africa; overview by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

April 19, 2013

Intervening at the 53rd ordinary session of African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, on  18 April 2013, the FIDH and the OMCT, in the framework of their Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, expressed their grave concern about the situation of human rights defenders in Africa, which they stated had not observed an improvement. Violations of human rights targeting defenders have continued, notably in Algeria, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo DRC, Djibouti, Egypt, Gambia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Judicial harassment based on false accusations, accompanied by arbitrary arrests and detentions, remains the most common harassment technique, especially in Algeria and Zimbabwe, but also in Cameroon, Djibouti, Egypt, The Gambia and Sudan. In several countries, including The Gambia and DRC, defenders have also been subjected to threats and smear campaigns. In late December 2012 / early January 2013, the presence in Goma in the Kivu region of non-State armed groups notably led to increased threats against local defenders, forcing many of them to hide or flee into exile. The targeted defenders are, inter alia, members of NGOs and lawyers in Chad, DRC, Zimbabwe, journalists in Djibouti, trade unionists fighting against impunity in Algeria, Djibouti, DRC, Zimbabwe or defending land rights and the right to a healthy environment in Cameroon; defenders of the right to work in Algeria and the right to health care in Sudan; advocates for the abolition of the death penalty in The Gambia, women’s rights in DRC, The Gambia, and free and fair elections in Zimbabwe; and activists campaigning against arbitrary detention in Egypt. Some excerpts follow but the reference to the full report is below:logo FIDH_seul

OMCT-LOGO

Read the rest of this entry »

Mourad Dhina, Algerian head of the human rights organization Alkarama detained in France

January 20, 2012

On 17 January 2012, the Geneva-based Alkarama group, which campaigns for human rights in Arab countries, said its executive director Mourad Dhina was arrested and detained in France at Paris-Orly airport. Alkarama spokesman Michael Romig said Dhina appeared before a French magistrate on Tuesday to hear Algeria’s extradition request on decades-old terrorism charges and was then returned to custody. This a complex case with heavy political overtones.Dhina was a former top official in the Islamic Salvation Front (le ‘FIS’), the organisation which was poised to win the Algerian elections in 1992, which then led to an army crackdown and a decade-long bloody civil war, with severe violations from both sides.

Dhina has lived in Switzerland for 20 years, but – contrary to some press statements – he was not a recognized refugee. He is a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained physicist who worked at CERN. He became an opponent of the Algerian government following the coup d’état of January 1992 that banned the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), starting the Algerian Civil War. After being spokesman for the Coordination Committee of the FIS, he became head of the Executive Office of the FIS from October 2002 to October 2004, and in 2006 he discretely left the party, but more because he regarded it as ineffective than because he disapproved of its violent methods. In 2007, he co-founded Rachad , an organisation dedicated to overthrowing the Algerian government through mass nonviolent resistance. He rejects any reconciliation with the present regime. According to Le Matin de Dimanche  of 15 October 2006  his position is: “There was a putsch in Algeria in 1992, so I find armed resistance legitimate. I said and I’ll say it again.”

According to a Wikipedia entry he was accused by the former French minister Charles Pasqua of having links with arms dealers, and therefore he left Saint-Genis-Pouilly, Geneva in 1993. When he was sentenced in absentia to twenty years imprisonment in his country he replied “I am honored to have been condemned by tyrants. History, one day, will prove me right”

Because the Algerian Embassy in Bern regularly asked for his extradition, Mourad stated in the same 2006 interview in le Dimanche de Dimanche: «Nous n’avons pas de documents pour voyager. Nous ne pouvons pas quitter la Suisse». In spite of this he appears to have travelled several times through French territory without having been arrested. So, why was he now arrested? And what is the likelihood of him being extradited? Clearly his vehement opposition and use of television aimed at Algeria must anger the Government but that would not be the right ground for extradition. But the timing seems to indicate that there might be such a link. If it is the old charges of terrorism, then it will depend op the strength of the evidence. In this context it is pity that Dhina’s taking distance from the FIS was not accompanied by a clear condemnation of human rights violations also by the FIS itself. Even if one qualifies the Algerian conflict as a civil war, it does not condone violation of humanitarian law by any party. Let’s see what happens!