Algeria: Solidarity with the family of Mohamed Tamalt
Front Line Defenders, Rassemblement Action Jeunesse (Raj), the Réseau des Avocats pour la Défense des droits de l’Homme, EuroMed Rights and its members in Algeria, the Ligue Algérienne pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme, SOS Disparus – CFDA and the SNAPAP trade union, wish to express their deepest condolences to the family of Mohamed Tamalt, who was declared dead on 11 December 2016 at Lamine Debaghine Hospital in Algiers. This is an extremely serious event that shows the results of the repression of critical voices, the instrumentalisation of justice and contempt for freedom and human life.
A freelance journalist residing in Great Britain, Mohamed Tamalt returned to Algeria on 18 June 2016 and was arrested near his family's home in Algiers on 27 June 2016 by military security agents. In a Facebook post published on 8 June, he stated his desire to return to Algeria despite the many death threats he had received as a result of the texts and videos criticizing Algerian political leaders that he published on his blog.
Upon being arrested, he began a hunger strike to protest the arbitrariness of his detention, ordered by the investigating magistrate for defamation of the President of the Republic and other institutions on the basis of Articles 144bis and 146 of the Penal Code which do not provide for a prison sentence. During the trial at the Court of First Instance, where he was sentenced to 2 years in prison, the Court of Algiers had reclassified the case in order to include Article 144 of the Penal Code which provides for up to two years in prison. His conviction was subsequently confirmed at the appeal on 9 August.
His health deteriorated rapidly in prison. The application for bail filed by his lawyers in early July was denied. Following his hospitalization in August, his family was allowed to visit him and noticed a scar on his head. It was only after his death that the Minister of Justice stated that the judicial authorities accepted the application to investigate the injuries submitted by his family.
Our organisations are calling for the Algerian authorities to:
- Launch an independent, thorough and transparent investigation as soon as possible with the aim of elucidating the circumstances surrounding the death of Mohamed Tamalt.
- Free the human rights defenders and the civil society activists imprisoned for having exercised their right to freedom of expression, and to cease the judicial harassment conducted against them.
- Guarantee the freedom of expression in accordance with the Algerian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Algeria.
Our organisations are also calling for the European Union and its Member States to contact the Algerian authorities and express their concerns relating to the circumstances surrounding the death of Mohamed Tamalt and for the need for an impartial and transparent investigation.