Algeria: UN concerned about dissolution of NGO for participation in Hirak protests
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: March 28, 2022
UN experts have expressed their concern about the information regarding the dissolution of the NGO RAJ, on October 13, 2021, by the Administrative Court of Algiers.
Dissolution due to participation in the movement:
The experts explained in a memorandum sent to the Algerian authorities on January 25, 2022, which has not yet been responded to, that the RAJ association is a non-governmental organization established in 1992, whose main mission is to educate and mobilize young people about social problems and issues related to citizenship, freedoms, rights, democracy, values of peace, tolerance and combating extremism. It was very active during the weekly protest movement, the Hirak, in which participants demanded a democratic transition in Algeria.
Experts stated that on May 26, 2021, RAJ received a court order to appear before the Administrative Court in Algiers, based on a request submitted by the Ministry of Interior and Local Communities, requesting the dissolution of the association on the pretext of violating the law governing associations, when the association hosted a delegation of Tunisian activists who supported the Hirak, and reportedly went to the RAJ headquarters during their mission. The judge considered that RAJ had invited them and that it required prior permission from the authorities.
The experts added that on the same day, the head of the RAJ association, Abdelwahab Fersaoui, received a summons from the police to come as soon as possible to the central police station in Bejaia, without specifying the reason for the summons. Since then, Fersaoui is being tried on charges of inciting violence with intent to harm national defense and undermine national unity. Several other RAJ members are also said to be undergoing legal proceedings, and as many as nine have already been imprisoned. On October 13, 2021, the Administrative Court in Algiers dissolved the association, and RAJ plans to appeal the court’s decision to the State Council.
UN demands from Algeria:
The experts called on the Algerian authorities to provide information on the legal basis for the dissolution of the NGO RAJ, and to indicate the measures that have been taken to ensure compliance with Algeria’s obligations under international human rights law.
The experts also called on Algeria to state the measures that have been taken to ensure that human rights defenders, as well as civil society organizations, can work in an enabling environment that allows them to carry out their legitimate human rights work without fear of intimidation or criminalization of any kind, in law and practice.