Algeria: Disturbing clampdown against civil society as two women’s NGOs forced to close

Responding to the Algerian authorities’ decision to close the offices of two prominent women’s rights organizations, FARD (Femmes Algériennes Revendiquant leurs Droits) and AFEPEC (Association Féministe pour l’Épanouissement de la Personne et l’Exercice de la Citoyenneté), Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director, Najia Bounaim, said:
“The targeting of these women’s groups is a shameless attack on the right to freedom of association and participation. This is just another example of the disturbing recent clampdown on civil society organisations by the Algerian authorities that must stop now.
“Both organizations must be allowed to resume operations immediately and without fear of reprisal. Such tactics are reminiscent of a by-gone era and are contrary to Algeria’s obligations under international law.
“The right to freedom of association is essential in a robust and dynamic society. Instead of seeking to further restrict human rights, the Algerian authorities must work on repealing laws and practices that are further shrinking the space for civil society and ensure that human rights defenders are able to work in a safe and enabling environment.”
On 27 February, Algerian security forces in the city of Oran sealed off the offices of two local NGOs, FARD and AFEPEC, following an order from the office of the Governorate of Oran, without any notice. The authorities justified the shutdown by disputing the legal registration of the NGOs. However, both organizations have submitted a new registration request to operate legally under the highly restrictive Law 12-06. FARD received the receipt of registration in March 2014 from the Governorate of Oran, while AFEPEC has yet to receive a response from local authorities. Both organisations have been in operation since the 90s.