Algeria's freedoms are falling backwards by leaps and bounds. The recent dissolution of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) highlights the growing repression by Abdelmadjid Tebboune's government.
The NGO, which is close to Hirak, was founded in 1985 with the aim of defending human rights in the country. The LADDH has condemned and denounced the repression of protests in Algeria, as well as the illegalisation of organisations in recent years, such as Ressemblement Actions Jeunesse (RAJ), a national association of Algerian youth, or SOS Bab-El Oued. Similarly, Algiers has shut down media outlets in an attempt to silence critical voices.
?Dissolution de la Ligue Algérienne de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (LADDH), organisation membre de la #FIDH en #Algérie.— FIDH (@fidh_fr) January 23, 2023
Le régime algérien continue ainsi sa chasse aux voix dissidentes?https://t.co/NVFyiWaeQh
This is precisely why the LADDH was dismantled last January after a trial that was held without the defendants and their lawyers. In fact, the members of the organisation - most of them exiled in France or Belgium - found out about the dissolution of the LADDH through social networks.
Thanks to the internet, they also learned of the court decision, adopted in June 2022. "We never received an indictment. We were not present during the trial and we never received the verdict," Saïd Salhi, vice-president of LADDH, told TV5 Monde.
According to Salhi, the authorities dismantled the NGO because of its defence of human rights and Hirak activists. "The authorities don't want to listen to dissenting voices," he says. The Tebboune government also accused the LADDH of "bad-mouthing the country internationally" and of being "Zionist and Moroccan agents". The latter accusation was in response to the LADDH's links with foreign associations such as the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), EuroMed Rights and the Coordination of Human Rights Organisations in the Maghreb.
#Algérie.— said SALHI (@saidsalhi527) January 30, 2023
Emprisonnements, contrôle judiciaire, interdiction de quitter le territoire avec confiscation des passeports, exil, dissolution de l'organisation et fermeture de ses bureaux,..c'est le sort de la LADDH et ses militants, derniers témoins de la répression en Algérie. pic.twitter.com/qJa9JI3lla
International organisations have condemned the decision of the Algerian authorities. In this sense, the French League of Human Rights (LDH), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) warned in a joint communiqué after the dissolution of the LADDH that "the deterioration of the human rights situation in Algeria is more worrying than ever", as reported by Le Monde.
The French newspaper also stresses that the suppression of the LADDH demonstrates Algiers' intention to "eliminate the residual nuclei of the Hirak of 2019" and the "repressive escalation of the regime". According to Amnesty International figures, there are at least 266 Algerian activists and protesters in the country's prisons "solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly". Le Monde also reports that dozens of people have been summoned by the police to go to court, where they will be banned from leaving the country and have their passports taken away.
2022 was a particularly tough year for Algerian journalists and reporters. The Tebboune government has fiercely tried to silence the last free and independent media in the country, such as the daily Liberté, which closed down for good in April "for financial reasons" after years of pressure. According to Radio France International (RFI), its main shareholder, Issad Rebrab, decided to liquidate the paper in order to establish better relations with the authorities and thus protect his interests.
El Watan ('The Homeland') also fell on hard times during 2022. In July, its employees went on strike to denounce poor economic conditions. The newspaper has been suspended several times due to political pressure, while its former editor, Omar Belhouchet, has been convicted on "defamation" charges.
#Algeria : Prominent journalist & critic of government Ihsan el-Kadi placed in pre-trial detention after being arrested last week - according to his lawyers #إحسان_القاضي #الجزائر #Algerie pic.twitter.com/HjX24fUqTf— sebastian usher (@sebusher) December 29, 2022
The year ended with the arrest of journalist Ihsane el-Kadi and the closure of the Interface Media agency, a conglomerate that includes Radio M and Maghreb Emergent. El-Kadi is still in prison today on charges of "undermining state security". The journalist's defence claims that El-Kadi has been the victim of "judicial and security harassment" for more than two years because of his political views and his opinion on Hirak. They claim that his imprisonment is more a "political settling of scores" than a legal case.