UPR submission Algeria
On 31 March 2022, Lawyers for Lawyers and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) have submitted a report for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Algeria. The next UPR of Algeria will take place in November 2022.
The report highlights concerns regarding Algeria’s compliance with its international human rights obligations to guarantee the proper functioning of lawyers, without harassment and hindrance, as set out in the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (Basic Principles) and other international rights instruments.
The first issue that is highlighted in the submission concerns the harassment of lawyers. Lawyers for Lawyers and IBAHRI have identified cases in which lawyers are hindered in the execution of their professional functions by threats, intimidation and harassment.
Moreover, Lawyers for Lawyers and IBAHRI have documented the case of the criminal prosecution of a lawyer from the Collective for the Defence of Hirak Detainees, who was arrested on 26 May 2021 and is currently in detention at risk of a life sentence for his work as a lawyer.
Lawyers for Lawyers and IBAHRI observe an increase in instances where lawyers are subject to disciplinary measures on improper grounds. For instance, certain lawyers have been temporarily suspended from practicing law without any explanation or justification. Lawyers for Lawyers and IBAHRI have strong reasons to believe that in some cases their suspension is related to their engagement in the Collective for the Defence of Hirak Detainees and to their defense of Hirak detainees.
Various Algerian lawyers have shared with Lawyers for Lawyers and IBAHRI that their right to freedom of expression has been heavily restricted in the recent years, most notably since the Hirak protests erupted in the country in 2019 and as a result of the recent legislative reforms.
Lawyers no longer feel comfortable with sharing information or freely talking and discussing about their work in support of Hirak detainees or in relation to human rights and the rule of law in general out of fear of criminal prosecution.
Furthermore, lawyers have also shared that they refrain from speaking out on social media because of the ongoing smear campaigns against lawyers who post about their work or support for Hirak Detainees, human rights or the rule of law.
In light of these serious concerns regarding the situation of lawyers in Algeria, Lawyers for Lawyers and IBAHRI have made multiple recommendations to the Algerian government.
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