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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press release on the judicial harassment of Mohamed Smain, Algerian Human Rights Defender

 The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa (Special Rapporteur) is monitoring with great interest the situation of Mr Mohamed Smaïn, an Algerian human rights defender. He was prosecuted by the Supreme Court in Algiers for defamation, insult and denunciation of imaginary crimes after having informed the police in Relizane of the discovery of a mass grave, and was later sentenced for slanderous denunciation and denunciation of imaginary crimes;

The Special Rapporteur is deeply concerned by the fact that in spite of the procedures which are reported to have been engaged by Mr Mohamed Smaïn and his lawyer, Mr Mohamed Smaïn has constantly been receiving unannounced and untimely visits at his residence from police officers seeking his arrest; 

The Special Rapporteur considers this situation as judicial harassment and an act of intimidation against Mr Mohamed Smaïn whose right to freedom of opinion and expression has already been repeatedly violated; 

The Special Rapporteur strongly condemns such acts of intimidation perpetrated against Mr Mohamed Smaïn and other human rights defenders in Algeria;

The Special Rapporteur calls on the Government of Algeria to take the necessary steps to put an end to such acts of harassment against Mr Mohamed Smaïn, and ensure that all human rights defenders in Algeria are effectively protected; 

The Special Rapporteur urges the Algerian authorities to grant the motion for an arrest of judgement in the prison sentence handed down against Mr Mohamed Smaïn and to grant the request for pardon submitted by his lawyer;

The Special Rapporteur urges the Government of Algeria to take the necessary measures to clarify the case of the enforced disappearance of persons in Algeria in order for the truth to be known and for justice to be provided to all the victims; 

The Special Rapporteur reminds the Government of Algeria of its responsibilities in promoting and protecting human rights as stipulated in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Kigali Declaration and the Grand Bay Declaration, as well as other international legal human rights instruments ratified by Algeria.