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Abdullah Benaoum facing charges for human rights work

Status: 
Imprisoned
About the Situation

On 17 October 2018, Abdullah Benaoum suspended his hunger strike after 30 days due to his rapidly deteriorating health. During the hunger strike, the human rights defender lost almost 11 kilograms. On 16 October, he was forcefully transferred to the Tiaret prison clinic in critical condition.

Algerian human rights defender and social media activist Abdullah Benaoum is experiencing a serious deterioration of his health as he has been on a hunger strike since 18 September 2018.

On 6 June 2018, Ghilizan’s Criminal Court of Appeal upheld a two-year sentence against Abdullah Benaoum on a number of charges relating to Facebook posts in which he criticised the government.

On 23 May, Ghilizan's Criminal Court of Appeal will begin the appeal hearing against the conviction of Abdullah Benaoum. On 2 April, Ghilizan’s Criminal Court sentenced human rights defender Abdullah Benaoum to two years in prison following his retrial on a number of charges relating to Facebook posts in which he criticised the government.

About the HRD

hrd_abdullah_benaoum.jpgAbdullah Benaoum is a human rights defender and social media activist who has written on labor rights, prisoners’ rights, and the rights of persons with disabilities in Algeria. The human rights defender has attended demonstrations to monitor and document via social media, violations to the freedoms of assembly and association caused by the excessive use of police force.

17 October 2018
Abdullah Benaoum suspends hunger strike after 30 days

On 17 October 2018, Abdullah Benaoum suspended his hunger strike after 30 days due to his rapidly deteriorating health. During the hunger strike, the human rights defender lost almost 11 kilograms. On 16 October, he was forcefully transferred to the Tiaret prison clinic in critical condition. He was not informed of his destination until his arrival at the clinic. Abdullah Benaoum began a hunger strike on 18 September to protest his detention in solitary confinement and continuous isolation from the outside world.

The social media activist is currently serving a two-year prison sentence based on a number of charges against him, including violation of article 46 of order 01/06 on the Charter of Peace and Reconciliation which prohibits publications on the 1990 Algerian civil war: "Anyone who, by speech, writing, or any other act, uses or exploits the wounds of the National Tragedy to harm the institutions of the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, to weaken the state, or to undermine the good reputation of its agents who honorably served it, or to tarnish the image of Algeria internationally, shall be punished by three to five years in prison and a fine of 250,000 to 500,000 dinars."

10 October 2018
Abdullah Benaoum on hunger strike; health deteriorating

Algerian human rights defender and social media activist Abdullah Benaoum is experiencing a serious deterioration of his health as he has been on a hunger strike since 18 September 2018. He is held in the prison of Belacel in the city of Ghilizan, and is protesting his solitary confinement and continuous isolation from the outside world at the hands of the Algerian authorities, who have prohibited any contact with his family and friends.

Abdullah Benaoum is a human rights defender who has written about labour rights, prisoners’ rights, and the rights of persons with disabilities in Algeria. He has attended numerous demonstrations to monitor and document violations to the freedoms of assembly and association, caused by the excessive use of police force, via social media. The human rights defender has regularly been subjected to judicial harassment because of his work in the defence and promotion of human rights in Algeria.

The human rights defender is being held in solitary confinement since the beginning of his detention in April 2018. This prompted him to protest his detention conditions with a hunger strike. Shortly before his imprisonment, the human rights defender underwent heart surgery and is required to take medication and a healthy diet on a daily basis. His lawyer, who was able to visit him recently, states that the consequences of the hunger strike put Abdullah Benaoum in a  life-threatening situation as the lack of nutrition and  the fact that he can’t take his medication is having a  deteriorating impact on his health. Abdullah Benaoum's family has been denied the right to visit him during the last four weeks.

On 2 April 2018, Ghilizan’s Criminal Court sentenced Abdullah Benaoum to two years in prison following his retrial for a number of charges relating to Facebook posts in which he criticised the government. On 6 June 2018, Ghilizan’s Criminal Court of Appeal confirmed the two-year sentence.

Front Line Defenders sees this as part of a pattern of ongoing harassment against Abdullah Benaoum. Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Abdullah Benaoum.

3 April 2018
Sentencing of Abdullah Benaoum

UPDATE: On 6 June 2018, Ghilizan’s Criminal Court of Appeal upheld a two-year sentence against Abdullah Benaoum on a number of charges relating to Facebook posts in which he criticised the government.

UPDATE: On 23 May, the Ghilizan’s Criminal Court of Appeal adjourned the appeal hearing against Abdullah Benaoum’s conviction to 6 June 2018.

UPDATE: On 23 May, the Ghilizan's Criminal Court of Appeal will begin the appeal hearing against the conviction of Abdullah Benaoum

On 2 April, Ghilizan’s Criminal Court sentenced human rights defender Abdullah Benaoum to two years in prison following his retrial on a number of charges relating to Facebook posts in which he criticised the government.

Abdullah Benaoum is a social media activist who has written about labour rights, prisoners’ rights, and the rights of people with disabilities in Algeria. He had been monitoring and documenting violations of freedom of assembly and association on social media, and he had criticised the excessive use of police force against peaceful protesters in the Province of Ghilizan in northern Algeria.

On 18 March 2018, Ghilizan’s Criminal Court sentenced Abdullah Benaoum to two years in prison in absentia. He was arrested on 20 March after having been under “judicial monitoring” following a decision by the Ghilizan court in the Chamber of Indictment on 1 February 2018. The order stipulated that the human rights defender must be in attendance at Ghilizan court once a week and must not leave the Ghilizan municipality. Abdullah Benaoum’s retrial began on 26 March on charges of ‘inciting an illegal gathering’, ‘participating in a prohibited gathering’, ‘insulting a public institution’, ‘publishing materials that contradict national interests’, ‘insulting the President of the Republic’, and ‘publishing personal information’ relating to military commanders. He was also charged with violating Article 46 of Order 01/06 on the Charter of Peace and Reconciliation, which prohibits publications on the 1990 Algerian Civil War.

Front Line Defenders condemns the sentencing of human rights defender Abdullah Benaoum and believes his arrest and conviction are motivated by his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights. Front Line Defenders calls for his immediate release and calls on the Algerian authorities to guarantee that human rights defenders can carry out legitimate human rights activities without restriction or fear of reprisal.

20 March 2018
Abdullah Benaoum arrested

On 20 March 2018, an arrest order for Abdullah Benaoum was implemented by the Algerian authorities. This comes two days after the human rights defender was sentenced, on 18 March 2018, to two years in prison and a fine of 200,000 Algerian Dinars on a number of charges relating to Facebook posts he made. Abdullah Benaoum had been under “judicial monitoring” following a decision by the Ghalizan court in the Chamber of Indictment on 1 February 2018. The order stipulated that the human rights defender must be in attendance at Ghalizan court once a week and must not leave the Ghalizan municipality.

Abdullah Benaoum is a human rights defender and social media activist who has written on labour rights, prisoners’ rights, and the rights of persons with disabilities in Algeria. The human rights defender has attended demonstrations to monitor and document via social media, violations to the freedoms of assembly and association caused by the excessive use of police force.

On Tuesday, 20 March 2018, Abdullah Benaoum was arrested by Algerian authorities following his sentence on 18 March 2018, to two years in prison and a fine of 200,000 Algerian Dinars on charges of "incitement to an illegal gathering", “participating in a prohibited gathering,” “insulting a public institution,” “publication of materials with intent against national interests”, “insulting the president of the Republic”, “publication of personal information” in relation to publications on military commanders, and violating article 46 of order 01/06 on the Charter of Peace and Reconciliation which prohibits publications on the 1990 Algerian civil war. All of these charges relate to posts that the human rights defender had published on Facebook.

Abdullah Benaoum has been regularly subjected to judicial harassment in retaliation against his work in the defence and promotion of human rights in Algeria.

Front Line Defenders condemns the arrest and sentencing of human rights defender Abdullah Benaoum and believes it is solely motivated by his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights. Front Line Defenders furthermore calls for his immediate release.

13 February 2018
Abdullah Benaoum facing charges for human rights work

UPDATE: On 14 February 2018, in two separate hearings of human rights defender Abdullah Benaoum, the prosecution requested a total of 2 years imprisonment and a 200,000 Algerian Dinar fine on the charges of "incitement to an illegal gathering" and “insulting a public institution”. On 28 February 2018, a verdict and sentencing will be held, while the human rights defender will face a separate trial on an additional separate charge of "insulting a public institution".

On 14 February 2018, human rights defender Abdullah Benaoum will face trial on charges of “participating in a prohibited gathering,” “insulting a public institution,” “publication of materials with intent against national interests”, “insulting the president of the Republic”, “publication of personal information” in relation to publications on military commanders, and violating article 46 of order 01/06 on the Charter of Peace and Reconciliation which prohibits publications on the 1990 Algerian civil war and carries a minimum sentence of three years and a maximum sentence of five years.

Download Urgent Appeal

The human rights defender is regularly subjected to judicial harassment in retaliation against his work in the defence and promotion of human rights in Algeria. On Thursday, 1 February 2018, Ghalizan court ordered “judicial monitoring” against Abdullah Benaoum in the Chamber of Indictment. The order stipulated that the human rights defender must be in attendance in Ghalizan court once a week and must not leave the Ghalizan municipality.

Front Line Defenders condemns the judicial harassment of human rights defender Abdullah Benaoum and believes it is solely motivated by his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights.

Front Line Defenders calls upon the government of Algeria to:

1. Immediately cease the judicial harassment of and drop all charges against Abdullah Benaoum;

2. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Algeria are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.