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Algeria: Arrest of human rights defender Mr Abdelkader Kherba and fears of execution of suspended sentence
On 21 August 2012, human rights defender Mr Abdelkader Kherba was arrested while taking part in a peaceful protest against water shortages in Ksar Bukhari.
He has been charged with insulting state institutions or officials, and it is feared that the suspended one year prison term handed down to him in May this year may be enforced. Abdelkader Kherba is a member of the Comité National pour la Défense des Droits des Chômeurs – CNDDC (National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Unemployed) and the Ligue Algérienne pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme – LADDH (Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights).
Following his arrest in Ksar Bukhari, the town where he resides, on the afternoon of 21 August 2012, Abdelkader Kherba was brought before the Public Prosecutor and charged with insulting state institutions or officials. He is currently being detained in Ksar Bukhari Prison, and he is due to stand trial on 28 August. It is feared that these latest charges may be a means of silencing the human rights defender by enforcing the suspended prison sentence he was given in May 2012.
In April 2012, Abdelkader Kherba was arrested while participating in a sit-down protest by justice sector workers who were demanding the improvement of working conditions. On 3 May 2012, he was convicted of incitement of protest under Article 100 of the Penal Code by Sidi Mohamed Court and handed down a suspended prison term of one year and a fine of 20,000 Algerian Dinars (approximately EUR 150). For further information, please see the Front Line Defenders urgent appeal, dated 26 April 2012, and subsequent update, dated 3 May 2012.
Front Line Defenders condemns the arrest of Abdelkader Kherba and the bringing of charges against him, and believes that these measures are directly related to his human rights work, particularly his involvement with the Committee for the Defence of the Unemployed and the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights. Front Line Defenders is concerned that the new charge brought against him may be an attempt to enforce the suspended prison sentence handed down to Abdelkader Kherba earlier this year, thereby seeking to silence the human rights defender.