Algeria: Human rights defender arbitrarily detained for Facebook posts criticising government and army

Amine

On January 18, 2018, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression (SRFRDX) following the arrest of professor and human rights defender Amine Fadha for Facebook posts in which he criticised the government and the army.

Accused of having undermined "national unity" and the "morale of the army", Fadha is currently detained in the central prison of Tiaret. The 29-year-old professor of physics at the Sougueur High School is a fervent human rights defender and a member of several associations, including a charitable organisation working to help sick migrant children.

Arrest and indictment for social media activity

On January 13, 2018, Fadha was summoned by the gendarmerie brigade of Sougueur – a military component with jurisdiction over civil law enforcement – and, the following day, to the headquarters of the gendarmerie. He was questioned about his online activities, as well as about Facebook posts in which he criticised the government and the army, including one post accusing the army of having played a role in the mass killings of civilians in the 1990s.

At 5 p.m the same day, Fadha was brought before the Public Prosecutor of Sougueur, who charged him with several crimes and offences related to his activity on Facebook, including "undermining the army’s morale and the national unity". Fadha is currently being held at Tiaret Central Prison, awaiting an investigation to be carried out by the Prosecutor ahead of his trial.

Violation to freedom of opinion and expression

In its communication to SRFRDX, Alkarama stressed that Fadha's arrest and indictment, both of which are a direct result of his peaceful activities on social media, are arbitrary and violate Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, under which "[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference." International law thus prohibits the arrest of persons for publicly criticising their rulers, including the highest authorities of a State.

Alkarama requested that the Special Rapporteur urgently call on the Algerian authorities to release Amine Fadha and abstain from any legal proceedings against him. Alkarama also asked the Special Rapporteur to remind the Algerian authorities of their international obligations, particularly with regards to the right to freedom of expression.

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

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