Press release: Rachad refers to the UN regarding its arbitrary classification as a terrorist organisation by the Algerian authorities
On 23 November 2021, Rachad submitted a complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, regarding its arbitrary and illegal – under international law – classification as a terrorist organisation by the Algerian authorities. It also informed other UN human rights special procedures, including the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.
In its submission, Rachad highlighted the deplorable state of freedom of association and expression in Algeria and the repressive legal framework put in place by the Algerian authorities, a situation that was already a major concern of the UN Human Rights Committee. It also explained how the « presidential decrees against terrorism and subversion” actually aimed at repressing peaceful civil society movements.
Rachad’s analysis shows that the conditions of Rachad’s listing constitute a clear infringement of the right of association and peaceful assembly, as well as an abuse of the counter-terrorism provisions.
In particular, Rachad recalled the criteria set by UN experts, including Mr Martin Scheinin, former Special Rapporteur on Protecting Human Rights while Countering Terrorism, to qualify an association or organisation as « terrorist ».
In his 2006 report to the UN General Assembly, Scheinin recalled that: » The fact that an association calls for achieving through peaceful means ends that are contrary to the interest of the State is not sufficient to characterize an association as terrorist.”
Mr Scheinin had set out general principles that must be followed by the state in qualifying an association or organisation as terrorist by stating that » unless the founding document of the group or association clearly states that it would use terrorist aims or means to achieve its goals, a determination of whether an association may be proscribed on the basis it is “terrorist” must be made on factual evidence of its activities. ». He also stated that the « the determination of whether the organization does qualify as terrorist and thus shall be proscribed must be made by an independent judicial body and there must always be a possibility to appeal a proscription decision to a judicial body « , and that « States that decide to criminalize the individual belonging to a “terrorist organization” should only apply such provisions after the organization has been qualified as such by a judicial body. »
In the case of Rachad’s listing, none of the above elements were met. As Mr Scheinin pointed out, it is necessary to be in line with » the need for the principle of legality and legal certainty to be respected whenever reference is made to terrorism or to terrorist groups. » Furthermore, « all international and national executive bodies in charge of including groups or entities on lists should be bound by a clear and precise definition of what constitutes terrorist acts and terrorist groups and entities. »
Rachad drew the attention of the UN experts to the fact that the illegal and arbitrary practices of the Algerian authorities endanger the whole of Algerian civil society, which operates today under the fear of seeing its activists classified, individually or in the name of their parties or associations, as “terrorist” persons or entities.
In concluding its report, Rachad called on the UN experts to enjoin the authorities in Algiers to cease their illegal practices under international law and in consideration of their treaty obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other international treaties ratified by Algeria.
4 December 2021