(Beirut) – Algerian authorities have crushed civic space over the past four years, Human Rights Watch said today, in a briefing paper it submitted to the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, who began on September 16 a ten-day visit to Algeria.
The briefing paper details how authorities have dismantled the country’s independent civil society and hindered political pluralism based on restrictive laws on associations, political parties, and unions. Authorities have suspended or dissolved independent civil society organizations, political opposition parties, and media outlets, and unjustly imprisoned human rights defenders, activists, and journalists.
“Algerian authorities have wiped out most of what remained from the civil liberties Algerians enjoyed during the period of political liberalization in the late 1980s,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The UN rapporteur can bring attention to the government’s continuous crackdown on civil society and urge the government to make reforms needed for Algerians to exercise their right to free expression and to organize freely.”
The visit, now under way, comes after several years during which Algerian authorities repeatedly postponed the rapporteur’s visit. It inspires hope that Algerian authorities will increase their cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms, Human Rights Watch said.