The Algerian authorities don’t even bother to try to put on a good face when it comes to human rights. Almost under the nose and beard of Emmanuel Macron, the day before his arrival for an official three-day visit to Algeria, on August 24, Kaddour Chouicha was arrested at Oran airport and banned from traveling.
The academic and vice-president of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) was to go, along with his wife, journalist Jamila Loukil, to preparatory meetings for the Council session of Human Rights which will examine the situation in Algeria in November in Geneva.
Accused of terrorism
This Wednesday, September 7, the couple as well as the journalist under judicial supervision Saïd Boudour, all three from Oran and members of the LADDH, were heard before the investigating judge of the court of Sidi M’Hamed in Algiers. The Attorney General of Oran accused them, in April 2021, of “conspiracy against state security”of “propaganda likely to harm the national interest” and D’“enlistment in a terrorist organization”before their case was referred last September to the anti-terrorism and cross-border division of the Sidi M’Hamed court.
“A dangerous escalation”, was moved by the Front Line Defenders organization, which in 2018 received the UN human rights prize. “The authorities equate the peaceful and legitimate activism of human rights defenders with alleged acts of terrorism”, she worries.
Victims of judicial harassment for several years
The three Oranais have been victims of judicial harassment for several years, constantly arrested, mistreated, convicted, imprisoned for various reasons.
At the end of 2019, in the context of the popular protest movement Hirak, Kaddour Chouicha was sentenced to one year in prison, then acquitted and released three months later. At the same time, Saïd Boudour had been kept in preventive detention for four months. His freedom was brief, sentenced and imprisoned again for almost four months from the end of November 2020 to March 2021.
A “growing” repression, according to the UN
A month later, the terrorism charges therefore seriously rose a notch against the trio. Very affected, Saïd Boudour hardly dares to leave his home, for fear of being arrested.
Appeals from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have so far been unsuccessful. In March 2021, he declared himself “very concerned about the deterioration of the situation” and by “continuing and growing repression” in Algeria and had called for investigations “quick, impartial and rigorous” on allegations of torture and ill-treatment in detention.