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Algeria 'fails' on human rights and freedom of expression, says EU

Image of a woman in Algeria protesting [Women of Islam/Facebook]

The European Council this week revealed findings from the EU annual report on human rights and democracy in which it noted several "failures" in Algeria on human rights issues and freedom of expression. "The exercise of some of the [fundamental] rights (including freedom of assembly and freedom of expression) continued — sometimes — to be hampered in practice," said the report.

Furthermore, "The law on associations adopted in 2012 continues to undermine the functioning of local and international associations in Algeria," while several of the EU's partners "have not yet received authorisation to officially register as associations and therefore cannot properly carry out their activities in the country."

The EU document also criticised the restrictions on freedom of assembly "where authorisations to assemble are systematically denied" and where several rallies in favour of human rights organised by associations were "banned and their organisers arrested."

Algeria's lack of support in promoting press freedom was also highlighted, "despite the dynamism of the Algerian media landscape and the country's efforts in favour of pluralism."

Read more: Algeria ranked lowest in MENA for economic freedom

As a result of the current economic crisis, lack of funding has also caused half of Algeria's newspapers to cease publishing.

Despite recent amendments to the Constitution, prosecutors have continued to demand severe prison sentences for press offenses. Similarly, several bloggers have been accused of defamation and sentenced to prison terms.

Bloggers and journalists in Algeria have often faced lengthy prison sentences for criticising President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on social media sites. Last year, a British-Algerian blogger died after going on a hunger strike in protest at his prison sentence after he was arrested for criticising Bouteflika in a poem.

According to the EU, doubts remain regarding the independence of institutions in the country, such as the Independent High Authority for Monitoring Elections, the Human Rights Council, and the National Body of Prevention and Fight against Corruption.

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