Rachid Mesli to Stay in Aosta Until Further Notice

Rachid Mesli

Rachid Mesli is to remain under house arrest in Aosta at least until next Monday 31 August, time by which the deadline for the Algerian authorities to formally request his extradition expires. If the Italian justice does not receive any formal request by then, the case will be considered as closed and Me Mesli will be able to go back to Geneva to continue his work as Legal Director of Alkarama, the human rights organisation he co-founded in 2004 to assist victims of severe human rights violations in the Arab World.

Should the Algerian authorities formally request his extradition, however, then a specialised judge would be appointed to deal with his case. The judge could then decide to rule against the extradition, or allow the Algerians the procedural 30-day period to provide the necessary legal documents.

According to Me Mesli, however, there already is a procedural issue with his arrest warrant. In fact, the warrant issued by the Algerian authorities in April 2002 requested his arrest for investigation in a case that involved other co-defendants, but the arrest warrant could be invalidated by the fact that there has already been a judgement in which the co-defendants were acquitted – this of course would have to be decided by the specialised judge.

Although Alkarama regrets that the procedure against Me Mesli was not simply dropped at the end of the audience given the unfounded and totally grotesque nature of the accusations contained in the Algerian arrest warrant, Alkarama remains optimistic with regards to further proceedings. Alkarama also wishes to thank all NGOs, institutions, personalities, as well as the media, whose support was such that it allowed Me Mesli to be put under house arrest instead of being left in prison.

As a reminder, Me Mesli was arrested at the Swiss-Italian border on Wednesday 19 August 2015 on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by the Algerian authorities in April 2002, which claims that he had "provided telephone information to terrorist groups," and "attempted to supply terrorist groups with cameras and phones," twisting his work as a human rights lawyer, in constant contact with victims of human rights abuses and their families.

Speaking to Alkarama from his hotel back in Aosta, Me Mesli stated: "It is a shame that Interpol violates its own principles acting on arrest warrants issued by lawless States who are using this institution for purposes of retaliation against defenders of human rights and political opponents."

In view of the current situation, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders (SR HRD), asking the Algerian authorities to refrain from requesting Rachid Mesli's extradition and to stop the proceedings against him. The urgent appeal was copied to other UN Special Procedures, including the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (SRT), the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (SR TERROR), and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence (SR TRUTH).

For more information or an interview, please contact +41 22 734 1008 -  (media@alkarama.org)