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ALGERIA: Arrest and detention of lawyer Abderraouf Arslane

15 June 2021

Abderraouf Arslane was arrested and placed in pre-trial detention on 26th May. He is suspected of being a member of the Rachad movement, designated by the Algerian authorities as a terrorist movement on 18th May.

On 1 June, the indictment division of the court of Tébessa confirmed the detention order against him and his continued pre-trial detention. He is prosecuted for “disseminating and spreading malicious information likely to undermine public security and public order”. Furthermore, Abderraouf Arslane is accused of having given interviews to journalists and to foreign medias which are close to the Rachad movement.

Abderraouf Arslane is a prominent lawyer at the Tébessa Bar. He is a member of the collective for the defence of the Hirak detainees. This arrest comes in a context of increased repression of activists, journalists and lawyers in the run-up to the early legislative elections on 12th June.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest and detention of the lawyer Abderraouf Arslane.

The Observatory expresses its total solidarity with the Bar Association of Tebessa and the National Union of Bar Associations which have engaged in a large-scale protest movement in response to this arrest.

The Observatory reminds the Algerian authorities that the independence of lawyers is one of the main indicators of democratic health and the consolidation of the rule of law. This is in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990):

« Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; » (Principle 16)

 « Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions. » (Principle 18)

« 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.» (Principe 20)

« Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. » (Principle 23)