Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: 7 February 2022
UN experts have indicated that the conditions of arrest and conviction of the Algerian human rights defender Noureddine Tounsi, who also works with the Platform for the Protection of Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF), is closely linked to his work reporting corruption.
Two trials, imprisonment and fines:
The experts explained in a memorandum sent to the Algerian government on December 7, 2021, that on September 21, 2020, Tounsi was arrested and charged in connection with his efforts to expose corruption, including his social media posts criticizing members of the judiciary. On November 24, 2020 the Oran court sentenced him to six months in prison and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars (approximately $375.25 USD), and an additional 50,000 Algerian dinars, for disclosing official secrets, and insulting and mistreating government officials and institutions.
The experts added that on April 21, 2021, Tounsi was tried in a second case on charges of insulting the President of the Republic, pressuring judges’ decisions, and violating the privacy of others, and the Court of Fellaoucen in Oran sentenced him to one year in prison.
The experts indicated that on May 20, 2021, Tounsi began a hunger strike, but he ended the hunger strike when he learned of the date of the appeal hearing, which confirmed the sentence issued against him in the Court of First Instance to a year in prison.
Experts expressed their concerns about the arrest and conviction of Tounsi, who appears to be directly linked to his activities as a whistleblower, amid concerns about the lack of an adequate legal framework in Algeria to protect whistleblowers and anti-corruption activists.
UN demands from Algeria:
The experts called on the Algerian government to provide information on the legal basis for the arrest and conviction of Noureddine Tounsi, and to indicate the extent to which these complied with Algeria’s obligations under international human rights law. They also asked the authorities to indicate the measures that have been taken to ensure that human rights defenders, including whistleblowers and anti-corruption activists, 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.