Tightening the Screws: European Parliament’s Resolution Highlights Algeria’s Dire Human Rights Record

Written by | Friday, November 27th, 2020

The European Parliament’s already second emergency resolution on „the deteriorating situation of human rights in Algeria“ in a year adopted by an overwhelming majority on Thursday (26 November) denounces human rights abuses and crackdown on freedoms in the North African country. Widely welcomed as an important step, which should, however, be followed by stronger public action from the international community, the resolution also highlights the case of journalist Khaled Drareni, a correspondent for TV5 Monde, who was sentenced to three years in prison for filming police attacking demonstrators in Algiers. Proposed by six out of the seven political groups and adopted by an overwhelming majority of 669 votes in favor, the resolution signals a broad agreement across the political spectrum in Europe.
Journalist Khaled Drareni, who was formally charged with ‘inciting an unarmed gathering’ and ‘undermining the integrity of national territory’, has become a symbol of press freedom in Algeria. His harassment by the Algerian authorities and his sentencing, later reduced to two years on appeal, is emblematic of the heightened repression. Condemning the escalation of arbitrary arrests and detentions, the European Parliament resolution calls on Algerian authorities “to immediately and unconditionally release Mohamed Khaled Drareni and all those detained and charged for exercising their right to freedom of expression, both online and offline, and to freedom of assembly and association.“ Recalling its resolution from 28 November 2019 on the situation of civic freedoms in Algeria, the Parliament strongly condemns the escalation of arbitrary and unlawful arrests, detentions, and judicial harassment of journalists, human rights defenders, trade unionists, lawyers, civil society, and peaceful activists in the country and calls for “the emergence of a democratic Algeria ruled by civilians”.
The adopted text also urges EU member states to “[adopt] a more assertive public position on the respect for human rights and the rule of law in Algeria, by clearly and publicly condemning human rights violations, by urging authorities to release arbitrary detainees and to stop the excessive use of pre-trial detention, by requesting access to detainees and monitoring trials of activists, journalists and human rights defenders, and by closely monitoring the human rights situation in Algeria”. Algerian and international civil society organizations have welcomed its adoption as a step in the right direction that helps to address the escalating crackdown on civil society, peaceful activists, artists, journalists, and the independence of the judiciary.

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