Algeria has been elected member of the Council of Human Rights of the UN, while several attacks on freedom of Algerians are recorded , with the latest installment prosecution against a cartoonist in Oran has not published the offending drawing. An update on the situation with Eric Goldstein, deputy director of the North Africa and Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
- Human Rights Watch and other NGOs Human Rights alerted the Algerian government on the many human rights violations this week, the eve of the election of Algeria to the Council of Human Rights of UN. What is your reading of this election is now effective ?
This is a great disappointment at the countries that have recently been elected to the Council of Human Rights of the UN, like Algeria and China for example, and making record in violations of human rights , but also because these countries do not allow visits UN human rights mechanisms rights. The least we can hope now is that those countries that are members of this board , open to visits by UN special rapporteurs . However, many reporters have suffered denial of Algeria to make their visit. Recall here the case of the UN rapporteur for enforced disappearances , including Algeria refused the mission in 2000 and each year from 2007 to 2012 , or rapporteurs on racism, on human rights and counter-terrorism , on peaceful assembly and association , on Arbitrary Detention , etc. .
- So you also noted that the situation of human rights has not changed despite the reforms that the Algerian government says it has taken ?
We actually find that the situation has not changed much in the right direction , even after the lifting of the state of emergency in 2011. Because it persists much pressure mechanisms in government hands , especially if you consider the laws on freedom of expression, freedom of association , when it also evokes the ban on demonstrations in the capital. The lifting of the state of emergency has not opened the field of expression and of political activity. Everything is pretty locked.
- For the moment , the only response from the Algerian government , including the chairman of the Advisory Commission is to denigrate the reports of international NGO Human Rights . What would you want from the official Algerian reaction?
There is an initiative that the Algerian government could do that would show a willingness to move forward : it is inviting NGOs , North African or international , coming accomplish their mission in Algeria without always block their arrival by the refusal of grant visas, for example. It should be noted that Algeria , after the Arab Spring , is now the only country in North Africa that consistently blocks visits to NGOs for human rights , so that they go freely and regularly Egypt, Libya, Tunisia , Morocco ... This block is an indication of lack of commitment to openness and transparency of the Algerian government.
- Algerian officials still maintain the discourse on "improving " the situation of human rights by making parallels with the 1990s. Can we talk about a real change ? Is this formal argument is the road?
In terms of respect for life , everyone finds that the scourge of terrorism has declined significantly , and it is already a significant step forward for the protection of human rights , we should not deny it. At the same time , in the area of civil liberties , there changes in the wrong direction . For example, even in the 1990s , when the murdered journalists , freedom of tone in the press was more important than today , and there was more space for debate . And we also find that the basic law has not really changed. For even if we removed the code amended articles providing information deprivation of freedom for journalists, it is well known that these items still exist in the Criminal Code . For example too, and if you really want to move to a better respect for human rights , it would also remove everything that penalizes freedom of opinion and peaceful expression. We must give the Algerians the right to peaceful protest , which is strictly forbidden in the capital, and allow independent unions turn freely ... Now all that remains blocked.