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Algeria: Human Rights Defenders brought before court after peaceful protest
On 19 June 2012 four Algerian human rights defenders were brought before the Court of Bab el Oued in Algiers charged with "inciting an unarmed gathering" pursuant to section 100 of the Algerian Penal Code.
The human rights defenders were Mr Yacine Zaid, President of the Laghouat section of the Ligue Algérienne pour la défense des droits de l’Homme – LADDH (Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights) and a participant in the 2011 Front Line Defenders Dublin Platform; Mr Abdou Bendjoudi, a leading member of the Mouvement des jeunes indépendants pour le changement – MJIC (Movement of Independent Youth for Change); Mr Lakhdar Bouzini, member of the Syndicat national autonome des personnels de l’administration publique – SNAPAP (National Autonomous Union of Public Administration Personnel) and; Mr Othmane Aouameur member of the Réseau de défense de la Liberté et des Dignités – RDLD (Network for the Defense of Liberty and Dignities).
The trial of the four human rights defenders comes almost two months after Mr. Yacine Zaid, Mr. Abdou Bendjoudi, Mr. Lakhdar Bouzini and Mr. Othmane Aouameur were arbitrarily detained with other activists for "inciting an unarmed gathering" on 26 April, when they staged a peaceful sit-down protest in front of the Court of Sidi Mohamed in Algiers calling for the release of fellow human rights defender Mr Abdelkader Kherba, who was the subject of a Front Line Defenders appeal. The four human rights defenders were interrogated by the police on issues related to their human rights work, including the reasons behind their activism and subsequently released without charge. However, on 13 June, the four were ordered to appear before the Court of Bab el Oued in Algiers on 19 June, having been charged of "inciting an unarmed gathering".
During the hearing, which was attended by dozens of supporters of the four human rights defenders, one of the defence lawyers described the trial as "unfounded, because the defendants took placards calling for the application of justice. The President himself is calling for the application of justice " and asked for any evidence to prove that human rights defenders were “inciting an unarmed gathering.” The trial was adjourned until 27 September. No reasons were given for the postponement, which the defence lawyers said was "unjustified".
Front Line Defenders is concerned about the prosecution of Yacine Zaid, Abdou Bendjoudi, Lakhdar Bouzini and Othmane Aouameur and believes that their current trial and previous detention are directly related to their human rights work. Front Line Defenders is equally concerned by the ongoing crackdown by the Algerian authorities on human rights defenders, including through intimidation and judicial harassment.