IFRD: The Draft Law on Revoking Citizenship in Algeria Is A Dangerous Precedent That May Aim To Punish Opponents

The International Federation for Rights and Development (IFRD) is looking in concern at the Algerian government’s announcement of its intention to prepare a bill authorizing the stripping of citizenship from citizens who reside abroad, in a measure that may aim to punish opponents.

IFRD considers that the aforementioned bill constitutes a horrific and dangerous precedent in the modern history of Algeria and raises concerns that the authorities in the country are descending to a new level in punishing and intimidating opponents to prevent them from any peaceful activities criticizing the regime.

The Algerian government announced that it is preparing a draft law authorizing the stripping of citizenship from citizens who are confused abroad “acts that seriously harm the interests of the state or harm national unity” or deal with a “enemy state”.

According to the official announcement, Minister of Justice Belkacem Zoghmati presented, during the cabinet session, a preliminary draft law that “provides for the introduction of a procedure for stripping the Algerian nationality, original or acquired, to be applied to every Algerian who intentionally commits acts outside the national territory that seriously damage the interests of the state or affect the state. National unity”.

This procedure will also apply to a person who activates or joins a terrorist organization, or finances or glorifies it, ”as it applies“ to everyone who deals with an enemy state”.

This project comes at a time when the popular protest movement in Algeria, supported by a large part of the diaspora, has resumed its demonstrations against the existing political “system”.

The “Harak” suspended its protest marches 11 months ago due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but its supporters resumed their protests on February 22, the second anniversary of the start of their movement.

IFRD refers to its concerns that the government bill to revoke citizenship in Algeria is linked to creating a tool to terrorize opponents and critics of the regime abroad.

It appears that it constitutes an arbitrary procedure, as it is based on broad terms and does not provide mechanisms that enable those concerned to defend themselves before the competent courts, and to make their rights as citizens in the midst of a windfall in violation of Algeria’s international obligations to respect the right of every citizen to a nationality.

Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality”.

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1965 obliges states in Article 5 to “guarantee the right of every human being, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law,” especially to the enjoyment of basic human rights, Including the “right to a nationality.”

The United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness goes further in Article 9, which states that “Contracting States shall not strip any person or any group of persons of their nationality for racial, ethnic, religious or political reasons.

Accordingly, the International Federation for Rights and Development (Individual) calls on the Algerian government to withdraw from the idea of ​​the draft nationality law for citizens who reside abroad, as it constitutes a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

And stresses that the Algerian government, instead of resorting to additional means of intimidation and suppression, release the dozens of activists remaining in its prisons and repeal all laws that criminalize the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to peaceful protest.

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May 2024