Apr 20, 2022

UNPO and a coalition of Kabyle NGO Submits a Report to UN Raising Concerns On the Human Rights Situation In Kabylia

Thousands of Kabylians around the world are gathering today, 20th of April to Commemorate the “Kabyle Spring”, a reference to the widespread protests in Kabylia in 1980, 1981 and the infamous “Printemps Noir” in 2001, where Kabyle activists were brutally repressed. Gatherings had already taken place across the weekend of the 16-17th April 2022. It comes as the situation in Kabylia worsens due to Algerian government neglect and repression of human rights reaches dangerous levels. In response UNPO together with a coalition of Kabyle NGOs have submitted a shadow report to the United Nations on the occasion of the nextcoming exam of the Universal Periodic Review over the subject of Human Rights abuses against the Kabyle community. Along side with that, UNPO will be publishing in a complete report detailing the human rights abuses extensively and calling for the Algerian regime to stop the wanton targeting of Kabyle self-determination activists.

Kabylia was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and a series of forest fires over the summer that left thousands dead and many more without proper livelihood. The Algerian government’s response has been to restrict medical supplies to the Kabyle population and exacerbated the forest fire damages, instead accusing opposition activists of starting them. Their overal neglect has led to a deep sense of distrust between the Kabyle people and the government authorities.

Since the Hirak democratization movement the Algerian government has also tightened the screw on activists, with evidence of torture and false charges used to imprison Kabyle self-determination activists. Our member the MAK is particularly targeted having been falsely accused of terrorism charges. In a French court of law, under extradition request, its President Ferhat Mehenni was found innocent of all allegations levelled at him by the Algerian government. Kabylian self-determination activists argue that Algeria is a colonial construct and that successive Algerian governments have marginalised Kabyle identity.

In March and May 2021 the UN OHCHR released statements on the deteriorating human rights situation in Algeria, targeting specifically the cases where Algerian security forces used disproportionate and unnecessary force against protestors. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at the UN presented a letter addressed to Algeria on its abuse of anti-terrorism legislation to crack down on peaceful activists in December 2021.

As part of our reccomendations, UNPO has highlighted the need to end the criminilazation of any self-determination movement in Algeria including those of the MAK, amend or repeal legislation that is contrary to their commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and a full independent UN investigation into the forest fires that devasted the Kabylian landscape in the summer of 2021. 

Our reccomendations concerning the UPR report are the following : 

  • Cease all arbitrary arrests and prosecutions and release all individuals arbitrarily detained.
  • Amend or repeal overly broad provisions of the Penal Code and other legislation used to repress fundamental rights and freedoms in line with ICCPR and ACHPR.
  • End the criminalization of the MAK organization and self-determination defenders.
  •  Ensure freedom of expression and assembly is respected, in particular, by refraining from use of force against peaceful protesters, enabling peaceful demonstrations, terminating arbitrary detentions of activists, journalists, and human right defenders, revoking the 2001 blanket ban on demonstrations in Algiers, and revising domestic law.
  • Demand prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in detention and physical assault during protests - to ensure that suspected perpetrators are held accountable in fair, civilian trials.
  • Implement a full and independent investigation into the forest fires in the Kabylia region.
  • Ensure fair and responsible handling of the coronavirus health crisis by allocating medical supplies from the international community to the Kayblian population.
  • Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced
  • Disappearances and recognise the competence of the Committee on Enforced Disappearance to receive individual complaints as per article 30 and 31 of the ICPPED.
  • Ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
  • Recognize officially the Kabyle people as a “people.”
  • Support the organization of the referendum to self-determination.