Feb 10, 2022

Kabylie : Algeria Taken To Task Over "Anti-Terrorism" Legislation by UN Special Rapporteurs

Five Special Rapporteurs for the UN addressed a letter in December 2021 to the Algerian government expressing concern over the undermining of fundamental human rights. The majority of the victims of abuse of antiterrorism legislation are either Kabyle or members of the Hirak democratization movement. Since the Hirak, little efforts have been made to provide a more open space for civil society actors in the country, and the UNPO is launching a campaign that specifically looks at the repression of the Kabyle civil society movement and the plight of the people living in Kabylia.

The Special Rapporteurs and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions underlined in particular the way the Algerian state defines terrorism and instrumentalises anti-terrorism legislation to crack down on fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and assembly.

In May 2021, the MAK, UNPO’s representative for the Kabyle nation in Algeria, was labelled a terrorist organization by the Algerian High Council for National Security on the basis of this faulty definition. It also comes as the Kabyle people face increased health inequalities, forest fires and environmental degradation in their lands.

In September 2021 Amnesty International released a report calling for Algeria to stop falsely accusing opposition groups and journalists of being terrorists. The report cites Hassan Bourras and Mohamed Moulodj as examples of the latest targets to fall victim of Algeria’s draconian antiterrorism legislation. Mr Mouloudj was due to interview MAK president Ferhat Mehenni and is accused of being an MAK member. 82 Civil Society Actors also addressed a joint letter to the Human Rights Council calling for states’ action to address the Algerian authorities alarming crackdown on pro-democracy forces.

Indeed, since the emergence of the Hirak movement attempting to democratize Algeria, the government has shown a deceitful approach with regards to civil society, by both accommodating publicly some elements and cracking down privately on other movements. It has sought to divide and rule by aiming allegations against the MAK of terrorism and violent sedition. This is the latest trick in the play-book of authoritarian regimes around the world, used to justify the strangling of civil society and imprisonment of self-determination activists.

Algeria responded to the Special Rapporteurs’ allegations in a letter, contesting that the concerns of the Special Rapporteurs about antiterrorism legislation were unfounded because there is no international consensus on the definition of terrorism and thus it was broadly applicable to numerous situations. At no point did Algeria provide concrete, specific evidence for the cases brought up by Amnesty, the 81 other CSOs who signed the letter or the UNPO.