‎Algerian authorities called upon to stop arbitrary and retaliatory arrest against lawyer and human rights activist Salah Dabouz


The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties expresses deep concern about the arrest of Algerian lawyer and human rights activist Salah Dabouz, who was detained in a restaurant near his office in Algiers. He was immediately transferred to the southern city of Ghardaia in connection with a criminal case he filed on last March 26, in the context of which he criticized the violation of one of the defense rights on social media platforms, both when pleading and after the verdict.
The arrest of lawyer and member of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights Salah Dabouz took place on the basis of the issuance of an arrest warrant from the investigating judge at the Court of Ghardaia. He was accused of a number of charges, including: the misdemeanor of forming a criminal association for the purpose of committing misdemeanors affecting the integrity of national unity; distributing and displaying leaflets for propaganda purposes that would harm national interest; incitement to armed gatherings; insulting a statutory body; discrimination against a person or a group of persons because of their ethnic affiliation and the promotion, encouragement or propaganda for such discrimination; defaming and insulting an employee while performing his functions. All of these are serious and exaggerated charges in view of the case facts.

The Geneva Council received testimonies from people around the lawyer Mr. Salah Dabouz, that the charges were made against him following a Facebook post on his page stating his position on a 10-year prison sentence issued on March 26 on murder charges in Ghardaia. He considered the ruling unfair and discriminatory against the defendants because of their ethnic affiliation to the Bani Mzab tribes based in the city of Ghardaia. He also had a disagreement with the Attorney General and criticized him during the pleading. The latter responded by promising to bring him to prison during a meeting between them outside the courtroom.

The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties considers the detention of the lawyer and human rights activist Salah Dabouz as a dangerous precedent and an act contrary to the principle of the independence of the judiciary. It also violates the right of defense and constitutes an attempt to intimidate a defense body while performing its duties, as well as an attempt to repress and silence the voice of a prominent human rights activist known for his political opposition to the regime. The lawyer was in the front lines of recent protests against the candidacy of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for a fifth term. He was also a proponent of the campaign of judicial action boycott adopted by lawyers across Algeria’s courts, which constituted a powerful pressure tool in the context of the protest movement that prompted Algerian president to resign. Mr. Salah Dabouz was also the first to announce the support by some judges for the popular movement and their refusal to supervise the electoral process as well as their decision to establish a judges club.
The Geneva Council for Rights and Liberties expresses its absolute solidarity with the lawyer and human rights activist Salah Dabouz. We call upon the Algerian authorities to fulfill their obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to respect the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. This involves: stopping arbitrary and retaliatory detention against the lawyer, dropping charges against him and release him immediately; ensure immunity and a safe framework that enables lawyers and human rights defenders in general to perform their duties without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or inappropriate interference; immediately stop fabricating false cases, baseless accusations and other violations.
Further Reading
• UN General Assembly Resolution on Human Rights in the Administration of Justice,
• UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers
Governments shall ensure the following for lawyers:
1. Ability to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or inappropriate interference.
2 – Ability to move to their clients and consult with them both inside and outside the country.
3. Not to expose them, or threaten to expose them, to legal prosecution or administrative, economic and other penalties as a result of carrying out work in accordance with the recognized duties, standards and ethics of the profession.
4. The authorities shall provide adequate safeguards for lawyers if their security is jeopardized by the performance of their functions.
5. Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.
6. No court or administrative authority before whom the right to counsel is recognized shall refuse to recognize the right of a lawyer to appear before it for his or her client unless that lawyer has been disqualified in accordance with national law and practice and in conformity with these principles.
7. Lawyers shall enjoy civil and penal immunity for relevant statements made in good faith in written or oral pleadings or in their professional appearances before a court, tribunal or other legal or administrative authority.
8. It is the duty of the competent authorities to ensure lawyers access to appropriate information, files and documents in their possession or control in sufficient time to enable lawyers to provide effective legal assistance to their clients. Such access should be provided at the earliest appropriate time.
‎9. Governments shall recognize and respect that all communications and consultations between lawyers and their clients within their professional relationship are confidential.

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