Last updated: 10 October 2023


The 1990s were marked by large-scale human rights violations committed during the Algerian civil war, which stretched from 1991 until 2002. While the state of emergency was lifted in 2011, fundamental freedoms remain restricted and demonstrations are still prohibited in the capital. Although the authorities tolerated peaceful demonstrations in the beginning of the Hirak movement, they resumed arresting groups of protesters in June 2019.

2012–2019: Restrictive Legal Framework

For over two decades, associations were governed by the highly restrictive Law on Associations (Law 90-31 of 1990) [English] [عربي] [French], which was adopted shortly before a military coup and a prolonged period of violence and terrorism in Algeria. Following the pro-reform uprisings in other Arab countries in early 2011, President Bouteflika pledged that he would enact major political and legislative reforms to address popular discontent, including a number of new laws to enhance individual rights and freedoms.

However, the new 2012 Law on Associations (Law 12-06 of 2012) [French] [عربي] created additional restrictions on the freedom of association and generally fails to protect the right in line with Algeria’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This law gave the government broad discretion to refuse to register associations and failed to provide an adequate remedy to appeal the rejection of a registration request. Most notably, the law allowed the executive to refuse to register any association whose purpose would be contrary to “national constants and values, public order, good morals and the provisions of the laws in force.”

The law also allowed the government to suspend an association’s activities or dissolve it on vague grounds, placed restrictions on associations’ founders, made it difficult for associations to receive foreign funds, and imposed heavy fines and criminal penalties for members or leaders of informal associations. After the law’s adoption, a number of associations faced new obstacles in carrying out their activities, with some organizations opting to close down voluntarily rather than confront administrative and legal hurdles.

In addition, in January 2012, Algeria’s government adopted a new Law on Information, which places substantial restrictions on associations’ ability to publish and disseminate information. The law required all publications to have prior approval from a media regulatory authority. It also restricted expression and access to information that relates to certain subject areas, such as national identity, sovereignty, the economy, and national security. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 32 provisions of the information law could be used to repress free expression; many were broadly written and could serve as a pretext for unwarranted censorship. Violations under this law could result in fines of up to 500,000 dinars (approximately USD 3,500).

In February 2016, Algeria’s Parliament adopted a series of constitutional amendments. The government had first pledged to reform the constitution in response to popular protests in 2011, and it was hoped that the new reforms would help to strengthen Algeria’s democracy and its framework for fundamental rights. Among other things, the 2016 amendments reintroduced a two-term limit on the presidency, provided for the creation of an independent election commission, and expanded on existing protections for the freedoms of assembly and the media. The 2016 amendments established a National Council for Human Rights, replacing the National Consultative Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (CNCPPDH), to promote, monitor and protect human rights in the country.

Despite these amendments, authorities continued to violate fundamental rights and freedoms by relying on existing legislation.

2019–2021: Calls for Regime Change

In February 2019, following the announcement that, despite being incapacitated, Abdelaziz Bouteflika was going to seek a fifth presidential mandate during the April 2019 elections, mass popular protests erupted across the country. On April 2, 2019, Bouteflika resigned as president and, on April 9, 2019, Abdelkader Bensalah became acting head of state.

Demonstrations (known as the Hirak movement) continued, with people demanding an effective change in the country’s power structures and institutions. The elections scheduled to be held in April 2019 were cancelled and it was announced that they would be held on December 12, 2019, amid continued peaceful protests over their legitimacy and effective representability. The continued bi-weekly protests were met by an increased crackdown by the military, under the leadership of Army-chief Ahmed Gaid Salah. Civil society space was increasingly restricted by the arrests of protesters, bloggers, political opponents and other peaceful activists. The pre-election period was marked by several trials against civil society members on one hand and, on the other hand, trials of members of the former government of Bouteflika.

On November 28, 2019, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the situation of freedoms in Algeria, calling on the Algerian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those charged for exercising their right to freedom of expression, to put an end to any form of intimidation, to amend Law 91-19 amending Law No. 89-28 of 1989 on Public Meetings and Demonstrations to remove all restrictions on peaceful demonstrations that are not absolutely necessary or proportionate, and to eliminate and prevent any form of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials while dispersing public gatherings.

High abstention rates were a feature of the December 2019 elections, with electoral participation falling to less than 40%. Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected president, however, the bi-weekly demonstrations remain ongoing. In February 2020, protests marked the one year anniversary of the movement. Algerian civil society remained divided over the legitimacy of the new president’s mandate as the organization of the elections and the selection of candidates were determined by the same political system that the popular demonstrations are protesting against.

Restrictions on civil society space, and the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, have continued under Tebboune’s presidency. In February 2020, Human Rights Watch announced that at least 173 protesters were on trial on charges that relate to either their activism or their peaceful participation in protests. In addition, on February 16, 2020, police in Algiers prohibited groups active in protesting for regime change from holding a news conference in a hotel in Algiers.

In March 2020, the President banned all protests, marches, demonstrations and other mass gatherings in in the name of the stopping the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In another restrictive measure, Law No. 20-06 amending the Penal Code was adopted following a restricted parliamentary debate. The amendments increase penalties for defamation, sanction the dissemination of “false information,” and provide the authorities with excessive powers to prosecute civil society activists who receive foreign funding if they consider that their activities undermine the “normal functioning of institutions” or “national unity.” In a communication issued in December 2021, several Special Procedures mandate-holders highlighted the lack of the necessary precision to ensure that the measures provided in the law would be necessary and proportionate.

On September 15, 2020, Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni was sentenced to two years in prison for his coverage of Hirak after being charged with “undermining the integrity of the national territory” and “unarmed assembly.” Drareni was sentenced alongside two prominent Algerian activists, Samir Benlarbi and Slimane Hamitouche, who were released shortly thereafter. These charges, which are based on articles 96 and 100 of the Penal Code, have been regularly used by the Algerian authorities against peaceful demonstrators. In response to Drareni’s arrest, UN officials issued a public statement calling for his immediate and unconditional release. They additionally expressed concern over the Algerian authorities’ use of national security laws to prosecute people exercising their fundamental freedoms.

Also, in September 2020, the national Algérie Presse Service falsely claimed that human rights complaints filed by Algerian activists and citizens were rejected by the “Geneva Office of the Dispute Tribunal.” In response, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement asserting that the information contained in the article was a complete fabrication, pointing out that there was no organization called “Geneva Office of the Dispute Tribunal.”

Lastly, in November 2020, new constitutional reforms were approved by a popular referendum, despite the lowest voter turnout in Algeria’s history. The reforms, which are largely seen as an effort by the Algerian authorities to end the Hirak movement, did not offer sweeping changes. Instead, they maintained the powers of the president to make key appointments and influence all branches of government.

2021: Half-hearted Concessions

In January 2021, the founder of the satirical Facebook page Hirak Memes, Walid Kechida, was sentenced to three years in prison for “attacking constituted bodies” and “insulting and offending the President.” In the following month, on February 19, 2021, the authorities ordered the release of dozens of detainees who had been arrested in connection with pro-democracy demonstrations after President Abdelmadjid Tebboune granted a “presidential pardon” to around 55 to 60 detainees. Among those released was journalist Khaled Drareni. On March 25, 2021, the Supreme Court of Algeria overturned Drareni’s conviction and ordered that he be retried in the Algiers court. His trial date has been set for September 23, 2021.

Tebboune also announced the dissolution of the National Popular Assembly and called for early elections. These measures, which were announced on the eve of the Hirak’s second anniversary on February 22, 2021, were taken in an attempt to prevent the resurgence of the protests that had diminished in intensity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 14, 2021, Tebboune announced that early legislative elections will take place on June 12, 2021.

Despite the presidential pardon, attacks on freedom of the press have not diminished. On March 19, 2021, Algerian journalist Rabah Karèche working for the newspaper Liberté was arrested one day after writing an article about a protest movement led by the Tuareg community of Ahaggar in the southern city of Tamanrasset. Among other accusations, he was charged with the “dissemination of information or news, false or slanderous, likely to undermine public security or order” under article 196 bis of the Penal Code. On August 12, 2021, Karèche was sentenced to a one-year prison sentence, with an eight-month enforced sentence by the Court of Tamanrasset.

On April 22, 2021, the Court of Sidi Mohamed sentenced Saïd Djabelkheir, an Algerian islamologist, to three years in prison for “offending” Islam on the basis of article 144 bis 2 of the Penal Code. Djabelkheir was sentenced in response to several Facebook posts shared in January 2020 in which he expressed his opinion on several theological issues. He has appealed the decision and his trial date has been set for September 20, 2021. In addition, his lawyer challenged the constitutionality of article 144 bis 2, but the Supreme Court refused to refer it to the Constitutional Court.

On May 30, 2021, Tebboune also adopted Ordinances No. 21-08 and No. 21-09, both of which contained provisions that are incompatible with several articles of the ICCPR and entered into force on June 9, 2021, just three days before national parliamentary elections were held, and without any parliamentary debate as a result of Tebboune’s dissolution of parliament on March 1, 2021. Ordinance No. 21-08 amends and supplements Ordinance No. 66 of June 8, 1966 and further amends Algeria’s Penal Code by introducing provisions that broaden the definition of terrorism and establish a national list of terrorist persons and entities. As established by article 87 bis 13 of the Ordinance, individuals can be designated as terrorists in the absence of a final court judgement and in contradiction to the principle of the presumption of innocence enshrined in article 14(2) of the ICCPR.

This reform came as the authorities are increasingly resorting to charges of terrorism to prosecute activists and human rights defenders who have played a role in the protest movement. On April 28, 2021, the prosecutor of the first instance court in Oran prosecuted 15 Hirak activists, including Kaddour Chouicha, Djamila Loukil and Said Boudour, and members of the Ligue Algérienne pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme under several articles in the Penal Code, such as enrolment in a terrorist or subversive organization active abroad or in Algeria. On June 17, 2021, their situation was highlighted in several special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, which stated that the accusations of terrorist activities against them appeared “to be directly related to their peaceful commitment to human rights in Algeria, and in particular their exercise of their rights to peaceful assembly and expression.” On September 5, 2022, they were summoned to appear before the investigative judge of the Fifth Chamber of the Specialized Criminal Court’s Department of Combating Terrorism and Transnational Crime in Algiers.

In September 2021, the authorities also arrested Hassan Bouras and Mohamed Mouloudj. Bouras is a journalist and member of the human rights league based in El Bayadh, who was accused of “undermining national unity”, “offending public bodies”, “spreading false information”, “membership in a terrorist group,” “apologizing for terrorism,” and “conspiring against state security,” among other charges, in connection with his Facebook posts. Mouloudj, who works as a journalist at the French-speaking daily Liberté, was charged with “spreading false news, harming national unity, and belonging to a terrorist group,” the latter charge being in reference to the MAK movement.

Ordinance No. 21-09 on the other hand relates to the classification of administrative documents and information. The ordinance prohibits and punishes the publishing or distribution of classified documents, in addition to documents related to judicial inquires or investigations. It also allows judicial police officers to place invasive surveillance technologies on electronic networks without authorization or supervision by a judicial authority, thus violating individuals right to privacy as enshrined in article 17 of the ICCPR.

On October 13, 2021, the Administrative Tribunal in Algiers complied with a petition made by the Ministry of Interior to dissolve prominent youth organization Rassemblement Actions Jeunesse (RAJ), alleging that RAJ violated the 2012 Law on Associations by taking part in activities that were different from those set out in its statutes. Following the hearing, on October 13, 2021, RAJ decided to appeal the decision before the Algerian Council of State, which has yet to rule on RAJ’s case.

From 2022 Onward: Towards a Restricted Civic Space

In February 2022, the National Committee for the Liberation of Detainees (CNLD) estimated that at least 280 people were imprisoned for peacefully expressing their opinions as of April 2022, most of them in relation to the Hirak. Also in early 2022, the Council of State ordered the temporary suspension of the activities of the Socialist Workers’ Party (Parti Socialiste des Travailleurs, PST) and the closure of its premises in Algiers following a complaint by the Ministry of Interior in April 2021 for allegedly failing to hold its annual congress as required in its by-laws and Law No. 12-04 on Political Parties.

In order to enforce Ordinance No. 21-08, the authorities published a national list of terrorist persons and entities in the official gazette in February 2022. The list includes the Rachad movement and the Movement for the Self-Determination of the Kabylie region (MAK) as well as 16 alleged members of both organizations. At the same time, the authorities continue to resort to terrorism charges to prosecute individuals exercising peacefully their fundamental freedoms.

The first half of 2022 was also marked by renewed attacks against lawyers, who faced charges for defending their clients and exercising their right to freedom of expression. For example, Abderraouf Arslane, a lawyer from Tébessa, was arrested in court on May 26, 2021, while he was defending three Hirak activists. He was held in pre-trial detention for having ties with the Rachad movement and expressing his opinions online and was charged with “spreading fake news” and terrorist-related offences. On June 15, 2022, Arslane was sentenced to three years in prison, two of which were suspended. He was subsequently released after serving his one-year sentence.

Abdelkader Chohra of the Chlef Bar was also arrested on May 14, 2022 while participating in a peaceful gathering outside Al Kliaa prison in Tipaza to protest the suspicious death of activist Hakim Debbazi, who died while being held in pre-trial detention. Two weeks later, on May 31, 2022, Yacine Khlifi, a lawyer registered with the Algiers Bar, was arrested and brought before the public prosecutor of Chlef. Both Chohra and Khlifi were detained on charges of “spreading fake news” and “incitement to an unarmed gathering.” Both were defending Algerian businessman Rachid Nekaz, who had been held in pre-trial detention since May 15, 2022.

On December 29, 2022, Ihsane El Kadi, the director of Radio M and Maghreb émergent, was arrested for having received funds from foreign sources allegedly in contravention of article 95 of the Penal Code. In 2022, he had already been sentenced to six months in prison following a complaint filed by the former Communication Minister, Amar Belhimer, related to an opinion piece for Radio M on March 23, 2021. In that piece, Ihsane El Kadi called on calling for the inclusion of all ideological tendencies in the Hirak, including the Rachad movement. On April 2, 2023, the Sidi M’Hamed court in Algiers sentenced Ihsane El Kadi to five years in prison, including two years on probation. On June 18, 2023, his sentence was increased on appeal to seven years in prison, including two years on probation. Three months prior to that, in February 2023, the authorities also arrested several people on suspicion of being linked to the fleeing of French-Algerian journalist Amira Bouraoui from Tunisia to France, including Mustapha Bendjama, who is the editor-in-chief of local independent news website Le Provincial. Three other defendants and Bendjama were later charged with the “receipt of funds from abroad for the purpose of committing acts against public order” and “publication of classified information on the Internet”.

In this context of declining press freedom, the Algerian parliament passed a new media law in April 2023. Certain provisions, such as the obligation of prior accreditation for journalists working for a foreign media or the introduction of a series of sanctions in case of breaches or offences, raise serious concerns. However, the text is still yet to be ratified by the president and published in the Official Gazette.

Organizational Forms Associations
Registration Body The President of the People’s Communal Assembly (for communal associations); the governor of the province in which the association is headquartered (for Wilaya, or provincial, associations); and the Ministry of the Interior for national or inter-Wilaya associations.
Approximate Number 108,940 (source: Ministry of Interior)
Barriers to Entry Mandatory registration, restrictions on founders, and excessive government discretion.
Barriers to Activities No “organic or structural relations” with political parties. The 2012 Law on Associations provides a limited number of areas in which associations can engage, including “professional, social, scientific, religious, educational, cultural, sports, environmental, charitable and humanitarian domains.” The government can suspend an association if it believes the association’s activities interfere with the “internal affairs” or threaten the “national sovereignty” of the country. (Similar restrictions are contained in the 2022 draft law on associations, which, if adopted, would replace the 2012 Law on Associations).
Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy Associations must obtain prior approval from the government before receiving funds from foreign donors, and are required to have a pre-existing “cooperation agreement.” Other barriers stem particularly from laws criminalizing activism and expression on certain subjects, such as violations committed by the authorities during the 1990s civil war as a result of the terms of the 2006 Charter on Peace and National Reconciliation. Other restrictions integrated in the Penal Code also constitute barriers, particularly those chilling criticism against the President and the army.
Barriers to International Contact Prior approval is required before an association can enter into a “cooperation agreement” with any international association or foreign entity. The government has broad discretion to withdraw authorization for a foreign association to operate in Algeria. In addition, article 23 of the 2012 Law on Associations provides that cooperation with foreign NGOs is only allowed with the prior authorization of the authorities.
Barriers to Resources Associations are prohibited from receiving funds from foreign funders outside of “official cooperation relationships,” which is an undefined term. The law states that “apart from duly established cooperation relations”, associations are prohibited from receiving donations, subsidies or any other contribution from any “foreign legations or non-governmental organisations”, and that such funding is subject to prior approval by the competent authority. In addition, in 2020, the Penal Code was amended introducing article 95 bis, which sanctions with “imprisonment of five to seven years and a fine of 500,000 to 700,000 Algerian Dinars, anyone who receives funds, a gift or an advantage, by any means, from a State, an institution or any other public or private body or from any legal or natural person, inside or outside the country, to carry out or incite to carry out acts likely to undermine the security of the State, the stability and normal functioning of its institutions, national unity, territorial integrity, the fundamental interests of Algeria or public security and order. The penalty shall be doubled when the funds are received within the framework of an association, group, organization or agreement, regardless of its form or name.”
Barriers to Assembly Prior authorization by, and at the discretion of, the executive on the basis of vague criteria, such as national principles, the public order or public decency; excessively long advance notice of eight days; criminal sanctions for any public assembly not meeting the prescribed conditions; and the Penal Code prohibits “unarmed gatherings” and disobeying orders to disperse and carry up to 12-months in prison. In addition, a blanket ban on protests and other assemblies in Algiers has remained in place after the state of emergency was lifted in 2011, even though authorities have not published the decree. According to an official statement issued by the Algerian Ministry of Interior in May 2021, organizers of public assemblies are also now required to notify the authorities of the names of those organizing an assembly, the starting and ending times, the route, and the slogans used as part of the public gathering.
Population 43,576,691 (July 2021 est.)
Capital Algiers
Type of Government Republic
Life Expectancy at Birth Male: 76.3 years
Female: 79.3 years (2021 est.)
Literacy Rate Male: 87.4%
Female: 75.3% (2021 est.)
Religious Groups Sunni Muslim (state religion): 99%; Other, including Christian and Jewish: <1%
Ethnic Groups Arab-Berber: 99%; European: less than 1%
GDP Per Capita (PPP) USD 12,128 (2021 est.)

Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency.

Ranking Body Rank Ranking Scale
(best – worst possible)
UN Human Development Index 91 (2021) 1 – 182
World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 89 (2022) 1 – 140
Transparency International 116 (2022) 1 – 180
Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index Rank: 77 (2022) 180 1
Freedom House: Freedom in the World Status: Not Free (2022)
Overall Ranking: 32
Political Rights: 10
Civil Liberties: 22
Free/Partly Free/Not Free
100 – 1
40 – 1
60 – 1
World Press Freedom Index 136 (2023) 1 – 180

International and Regional Human Rights Agreements

Key International Agreements Ratification* Year
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Yes 1989
Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1) Yes 1989
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) Yes 1989
Optional Protocol to ICESCR (OP-ICESCR) No
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) Yes 1972
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Yes 1996
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women No
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Yes 1993
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW) Yes 2005
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Yes 2009
Key Regional Agreements Ratification* Year
Arab Charter on Human Rights Yes 2007
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights Yes 1987
African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child Yes 2003
Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community Yes 2001
Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa Yes 2003
Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights Yes 2003

* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty

Constitutional Framework

The first Algerian Constitution was passed in 1963 by referendum, following the end of the War of Independence with France. Algeria’s second constitution was passed in 1976 during the Boumédienne era; it recognized the freedom to associate and form organizations. After public uprisings in 1988, a third constitution was adopted, expanding on several individual freedoms, including by allowing citizens to elect representatives and form political parties. Parts of this constitution were suspended following the 1992 military coup, however, when the government declared a state of emergency. The constitution was again modified in 1996, 2002, and 2008, though without substantial changes with regard to individual rights and freedoms.

The 2011 revolution in neighboring Tunisia and signs of growing discontent among Algerians led President Bouteflika to promise a raft of reforms that included constitutional revisions. Consultations on recommended changes took place from 2011 to late 2015, when President Bouteflika approved the draft amendments, and Parliament approved them in February 2016. Among other things, the amendments reinstated a two-term limit on the office of the presidency, and a requirement that the prime minister be selected from the parliamentary majority rather than directly chosen by the president.

On November 1, 2020 Constitutional changes were passed after a popular referendum with a record low voter turnout was held.  The revised Constitution limits the role of the army to “the consolidating and developing of the Nation’s defensive capabilities; preserving national independence and defending national sovereignty; and protecting the unity of the country and the integrity of its territory” (Article 30). However, it does not prohibit the armed forces from intervening in the political or economic affairs of the country. It additionally does not provide for civilian oversight of the armed forces, though under the adopted constitution, the president remains the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and in charge of national defense.

The amendments to the Constitution also placed more power in the hands of the president, providing him with the power to appoint and dismiss the prime minister, one-third of the upper chamber of Parliament, ministers, judges, the head of the supreme court, the head of the higher administrative court, the head of the court of accounts, and the head of the constitutional court. Under this amended Constitution, the president of the republic also serves as the president of the Higher Judicial Council, and his powers are unchecked; he is unimpeachable and may dissolve the People’s National Assembly under any circumstances.

Under article 39 of the amended Constitution, torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment is punishable by law, but cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment is neither prohibited nor criminalized. Article 44, moreover, maintains that no person shall be arrested, detained or prosecuted for reasons other those provided by the law and mandates that persons must be provided with the reason behind their arrest. It also holds that acts of arbitrary detention be punished and that pre-trial detention only be used as an exceptional measure. Despite the positive steps provided by the inclusion of such laws in the constitution, they fall short of guaranteeing the right of everyone “to liberty and the security of person.” The right of persons to challenge the lawfulness of their detention before a court, even in situations of extreme emergencies, is not guaranteed in the amended Constitution nor are victims of arbitrary arrest or detention entitled to any reparation or compensation.

National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector

Relevant national legislation includes the following:

  • Law amending the Penal Code (Law 20-06 amending and completing Ordinance 66-156 of June 8, 1966, on the Penal Code) [Français]: The law contains several concerning provisions which impact freedom of association and freedom of expression and fails to meet international standards. Under this law, individuals can face prison sentences of up to seven years for receiving funds deemed a threat on vague grounds such as “national unity” or “Algeria’s fundamental interests”. In addition, the law threatens press freedom, increasing the custodial sentences for defamation, and introduces custodial sentences for the dissemination of false information. Under this law, new offenders face prison sentences of between one and three years, which doubles for repeat offenders. In addition, penalties are higher in the event that the offence takes place “at a time of a public health lockdown or a natural, biological or technological catastrophe or any other form of catastrophe”, with first time offenders potentially facing up to five years in prison.
  • Law on Associations (Law 12-06 of 2012) [Français] [عربي]: The law replaces the highly restrictive Law on Associations (Law 90-31 of 1990) [English] [عربي] [Français], but still fails to adequately guarantee the right to freedom of association consistent with Algeria’s international obligations. The new law affords the government broad discretion to refuse to register an association and suspend the activities of an association, places restrictions on the founders of associations, limits associations’ ability to receive foreign funds, imposes heavy fines and criminal penalties for members or leaders of informal associations, and fails to provide associations with an adequate remedy to appeal the rejection of their registration.
  • Law on Information (Law 12-05 of 2012) [Français]: This law replaces the 1990 media law and can be used to circumscribe journalism and access to information in several major subject areas, including national identity, sovereignty, the economy, and security. The law requires all publications to have prior approval by a media regulatory authority.  According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least thirty-two provisions can be used to repress free expression, and many are broadly written and could serve as a pretext for unwarranted censorship. Violations under this law can result in fines of up to 500,000 Algerian Dinars.
  • Law on Public Meetings and Gatherings (Law 19-91 of 1990) [Français]: The law requires organizers of public marches and demonstrations in outdoor public spaces and thoroughfares to apply for prior authorization from interior ministry officials, eight days in advance of the event. Organizers of temporary public “gatherings” are required to notify officials three days in advance. The law allows those officials to deny authorization if the meeting or demonstration “opposes the national values (constantes nationales) or … undermines the symbols of the Revolution of November 1, the public order, or morality.” This law extends to news conferences held in locations such as hotels.
  • Ordinance on the Conditions and Rules of Practice of Faiths other than Islam (Ordinance 06-03 of 2006) [Français]: The text of this law imposes undue restrictions on the exercise of religions other than Islam.
  • Law No. 90-14 of June 2, 1990 on the exercise of the right to organize [Français]: This law does not allow migrant workers who are regularly working in Algeria to form unions and organize. Although it provides for a declaratory procedure for the registration of unions, in practice independent unions often face the administration’s refusal to register them, creating a de facto system of approval. The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families recommended that the law be amended in their 2018 concluding observations. In 2016, the International Labor Organization recommended that Algerian authorities end the practice of preventing the registration of autonomous unions and revise section 6 of law No. 90-14 without further delay so as to “secure to all workers, without distinction as to nationality, the right to establish a trade union.” This law was replaced by Law No. 23-02 of April 25, 2023 on the exercise of the right to organize [Français]. In March 2023, the authorities passed a draft law on the exercise of the right to organize, which establishes a list of sectors deemed “sensitive” for which the right to strike may be restricted. The sectors in question could include national education, higher education, and health. The draft law also delineates the boundaries between trade unions and political practice and set out the modalities for the creation of a trade union and the conditions required for membership in one in order to put an end to “trade union transhumance”.
  • Ordinance No. 06-01 of February 27, 2006 implementing the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation [Français]
  • Article 45 rejects any complaint on violations committed during the internal conflict, including violations of jus cogens norms, as inadmissible before courts. Article 46 prescribes a penalty of imprisonment and a fine for any person who “attacks the institutions of the State,” or “impugns the honor of its officials or tarnishes its international reputation.” This article creates a climate of self-censorship and a chilling effect on civil society as it encompasses all form of criticism against state security forces for violations committed during the internal conflict.
  • Law No. 09-04 of August 5, 2009 regulating the prevention of and the fight against offences linked to Information and Communication Technologies
  • Law No. 05-01 of February 6, 2005 on the Prevention and Fight against Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism, modified by Ordinance No. 12-02 of February 13, 2012 and approved by Law No. 12-10 of March 26, 2012
  • Law No. 16-13 of November 3, 2016 establishing the National Council for Human Rights, its composition, and terms of appointment of its members, as well as the rules relating to its organization and functioning.
  • Decree Governing the Electronic Press (Decree No. 20-332). The decree came into force on November 22, 2020 following its publication in the Official Gazette [Français]. Article 5 of the Decree introduces excessive restrictions, stating that directors responsible for online news outlets must, inter alia, hold Algerian nationality, must not have been deprived of their civil and political rights, and must not have been convicted of the crimes of defamation, insult, contempt, discrimination, or hatred and incitement to such crimes. This provision is particularly concerning because the authorities regularly press such charges against individuals peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression. Under the decree, the director responsible for an online news outlet must ensure the respect of the provisions in Law No. 12-05, which is known as the “information code” and imposes excessive constraints on the content of sharable information (Article 13). According to CSOs, the Decree will strengthen “the control of political power over freedom of expression online.”
  • Ordinance No. 21-08. The Ordinance came into force on June 9, 2021 and through its article 2 introduces two new paragraphs to article 87 bis of the Penal Code. This expands the definition of terrorism to include acts aimed at “working or inciting, by any means, whatsoever, to gain power or to change the system of governance by unconstitutional means,” and “undermining the integrity of the national territory or incite to do so, by any means whatsoever.” Article 3 of Ordinance 21-08 additionally introduces article 87 bis 13 and 14 into the Penal Code, which establish a national list of terrorist persons and entities in Algeria and prohibits “the activity of the person or of the entity” and places a travel ban on listed individuals and allows the freezing and seizing of their funds and assets. According to article 87 bis 14 individuals can be designated as terrorists in the absence of a final court judgement in contradiction to the principle of presumption of innocence enshrined in article 14(2) of the ICCPR.
  • Ordinance No. 95-11 of February 25, 1995; Law No. 01-09 of June 26, 2001; Law No. 06-23 of December 20, 2006 incriminating terrorism and its financing in article 87 of the Criminal Code, which has been the subject of concern since the article defines the crime of terrorism in overly broad and vague terms, allowing for prosecution of acts that should be protected as acts of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.
  • Ordinance No. 21-08 [Français]. The Ordinance came into force on June 9, 2021. The Ordinance, through its article 2, introduces two new paragraphs to article 87 bis of the Penal Code, expanding the definition of terrorism to include acts aimed at “working or inciting, by any means, whatsoever, to gain power or to change the system of governance by unconstitutional means,” and “undermining the integrity of the national territory or incite to do so, by any means whatsoever.” Article 3 of Ordinance 21-08 additionally introduces article 87 bis 13 and 14 into the Penal Code, thus establishing a national list of terrorist persons and entities in Algeria, prohibiting “the activity of the person or of the entity,” placing a travel ban on listed individuals and freezing and seizing their funds and assets. Based on article 87 bis 14 individuals can designated as terrorists in the absence of a final court judgement, in contradiction to the principle of presumption of innocence enshrined in article 14(2) of the ICCPR.
  • Ordinance No. 21-09, which also came into force on June 9, 2021, relates to the protection of administrative documents and information. The Ordinance classifies documents according to their degree of sensitivity and establishes punishments for the publishing or disclosure of classified documents. According to article 25, competent judicial police officers may also place invasive surveillance tools on individuals without judicial oversight and authorization.

Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives

The draft organic law on associations currently under discussion as of July 2023 contains several barriers for foreign NGOs. Most notably, the draft law provides that “international non-governmental organizations that may be authorized to open an office and operate in the national territory shall be those that do not work to interfere in the internal affairs of the country or undermine the principles contained [in the present law] or attempt to sow distinction between the components of the nation or incite members of society against their political, economic, religious and/or cultural choices and their religious reference.”

On June 19, 2022, the Council of Ministers examined a draft Law on Associations that, if approved, would abrogate the 2012 Law on Associations, which currently subjects NGOs to a prior authorization procedure. The draft Law aims to create a declaratory regime for the creation of associations (thus removing the prior authorization requirement), as provided for in article 53 of the 2020 Algerian Constitution. However, at the same time, the text, if approved, would subject an association’s stated objectives to even more vague and imprecise general criteria, such as the “respect for national constants, principles, values enshrined in the constitution, national and territorial unity, the fundamentals of national identity, the symbols of the State and its institutions, national security and defence, public order and good morals.” In addition, cooperation with foreign organizations and the receipt of funds from abroad would be subject to prior clearance by the authorities. The text has been placed on Parliament’s agenda for the 2022-2023 ordinary session, but will probably be examined during the following session.

Lastly, the Algerian parliament passed a new media law in April 2023. Certain provisions, such as the obligation of prior accreditation for journalists working for a foreign media or the introduction of a series of sanctions in case of breaches or offences, raise serious concerns. However, in July 2023, the text was still yet to be ratified by the president and published in the Official Gazette.

Please help keep us informed; if you are aware of pending initiatives, write to ICNL at

Organizational Forms

The most common organizational form for civil society entities under Algerian law is the association. The 2012 Law on Associations defines associations as “individuals or legal entities” that “form a group on a contractual basis for a specific or non-specific period of time and share in a common, voluntary, and non-profit purpose.”

Religious associations, or awqaf, are governed by separate laws and are regulated by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Awqaf. Non-Muslim Religious Associations are governed by Ordinance 06 of 2003 on the Conditions and Rules of Practice of Faiths other than Islam; the National Commission for Non-Muslim Religious Services is responsible for registering and regulating these groups.

Public Benefit Status

According to article 34 of the 2012 Law on Associations, associations regarded as “being in the general interest and/or of public utility” can receive financial aid from the government. But the Law does not state how to determine the “public utility” of an association or define the “general interest,” which leaves much to the discretion of the government in deciding on an association’s eligibility. In practice, the Algerian government does not provide any direct or indirect financial benefits, such as tax exemptions or public utility discounts, to associations.

Barriers to Entry

Despite the introduction of a notification regime in the 2020 Constitution, Algerian law still provides for mandatory registration for associations operating in Algeria, and requires prior approval from government authorities. The 2012 Law on Associations provides for between three months and six months imprisonment or a fine of 100,000 to 300,00 Algerian Dinars for being part of an association that is “not yet registered.” The Law creates numerous obstacles to formation and registration. For example:

  • The Law limits those who can create, administer, or run an association to persons who are of legal age, Algerian nationals, and those eligible to enjoy their civil and political rights. In addition, a person may only serve as an executive member if he or she has not been sentenced for a crime or flagrant offence “incompatible with the field of activity of the association,” unless he or she has been rehabilitated.
  • The Law requires a high minimum number of founding members: 10 for a local group, 15 if the group is regional, and 25 if it is national. In addition, extensive information on the founders is required with the association’s establishment documents, including the founders’ marital status, professions, residences, copies of their police records, and in the case of a national group, proof that the founders of an association come from at least 12 different regions in Algeria.
  • The Law gives very broad discretion to the government to refuse to register an association. For example, the law gives the government the right to refuse registration if the purposes and goals of the association’s activities are not “in the general interest” or are contrary Algeria’s “national principles and values, public order, morality, and the laws and regulations in force.” Associations have the right to appeal a denial of registration, but the government can bring additional proceedings to annul the creation of the association altogether and nullify a previous ruling in its favor. This final procedure has no appeal and, moreover, is not decided by an independent court.
  • The Law requires authorities to issue a deposit receipt when an association submits its registration documents, as well as a final registration receipt once a specified amount of time (30-60 days,+ depending on the type of group) has lapsed without the government rejecting the registration. However, in practice, authorities often ignore these obligations and withhold the receipts, leaving associations without proof of their legal existence and unable to, e.g., open a bank account or rent property.

In addition, the Law mandated that before they can legally operate all associations must resubmit their registration applications and obtain the receipt from the Ministry of Interior. Under article 8 of the Law, the creation of an association is subject to a procedure amounting to a regime of preliminary authorization. The administrative authorities are required to deliver a receipt either granting authorization or rejecting the application. This legislation left a number of associations seeking registration in legal limbo with the authorities failing to respond to registration applications. These included human rights groups such as Amnesty International’s branch in Algeria. Additionally, several Algerian human rights organizations have been unable to legally operate until this day because they have still not obtained their receipts from the Ministry of Interior, despite having submitted their applications more than five years ago.

On August 17, 2018, the Human Rights Committee raised concerns regarding the Law in its concluding observations, highlighting that “under that legislation, (a) the founding of an association is subject to an authorization procedure; (b) cooperation with foreign organizations and the receipt of funds from abroad are subject to prior clearance by the authorities; and (c) associations may be dissolved by simple administrative decision for reasons of “interference with the domestic affairs of the country or affront to national sovereignty.” Furthermore, the Committee expressed concern over numerous credible reports that the government had rejected the by-laws of organizations that existed prior to the Law, adding that this practice limits freedom of association and exposes their members to hefty penalties for “unauthorized activity.”

Barriers to Operational Activity

The 2012 Law on Associations provides that associations may engage in activities “especially in professional, social, scientific, religious, educational, cultural, sports, environmental, charitable and humanitarian” domains. However, the Law allows the government to dissolve any association that conducts activities outside of those explicitly provided for in its statutes. The Law also prohibits associations from having “any relationship . . . whether organic or structural” with political parties, or receiving gifts “in any form whatsoever from them.”

As mentioned above, article 2 requires that the purpose and goals of an association be “in the general interest;” upon registration, the association must define this purpose or purposes “with precision.” Further, associations are allowed to spend money only on activities that are directly related to its purposes.

The Law permits the government to forcibly dissolve an association or suspend its activities for interfering with the “internal affairs of the country” or posing a “threat to national sovereignty.” Such vague grounds give the government excessive discretion to terminate an association, with no judicial oversight or arbitration. While the Law also requires that the authorities give an association warning to comply with the Law, in practice they often ignore this requirement. Further, most active and visible associations report interference by government authorities, including surveillance, monitoring of telephone calls, and difficulty in securing meeting spaces.

On June 29, 2022, the Administrative Court of Algiers dissolved the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) following a complaint filed by the Interior Ministry. In the judgment, the Court found that the LADDH carried out activities that were not in accordance with its statutes, which included the division of the organization into five different groups from 2005 onwards, failed to notify the competent authorities of changes to its statutes and executive body in time, and failed to provide copies of the minutes of its general assembly and annual financial reports in time in violation of the 2012 Law on Associations. The court also found that LADDH had failed to comply with article 23 of the same law, which required it obtain prior approval from the authorities for the association to engage with international organizations. The decision makes reference to “the presentation of false information” to the Human Rights Council as well as interactions with the UN Special Procedures Mandate holders of the Human Rights Council. Members of the LADDH reportedly found out about the decision on January 20, 2023 when the information circulated on social media. In 2018, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern over credible reports of “harsh police repression of strikes or demonstrations by unions, judicial harassment, intimidation and threats, including suspensions and dismissals, in particular within the civil service.” While the creation of unions is also subjected to a declaration-based system of registration, in practice this system functions de facto as an authorization-based one.

Ordinance 06-03 of 2006 concerning the conditions and rules governing the practice of faiths other than Islam imposes a number of administrative requirements on non-Muslim religious associations, which oblige them to register places of worship and limit worship to registered sites. The law also criminalizes proselytizing among Muslims on behalf of other faiths and dissemination of materials aimed at “shaking the faith of a Muslim.”

Barriers to Speech / Advocacy

There are multiple restrictions on the ability of associations to publicly express themselves. Law No. 12-06 on associations contains provisions that are restrictive and subject an association’s stated objective to vague and imprecise general criteria, such as the “public interest” and “respect for national values” and “principles.”

In addition, Law on Information No. 12-05 requires all publications to have prior approval by a media regulatory authority, which among other things limits associations’ ability to conduct advocacy through written materials.

Presidential decrees have also criminalized speech concerning certain topics, such as Ordinance 06-01 concerning the implementation of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, which sanctions anyone who criticizes the conduct of security forces during the internal conflict of the 1990s. Article 46 of the Ordinance prescribes a penalty of imprisonment and a fine for any person who attacks the institutions of the state party, impugns the honor of its officials, or tarnishes its international reputation. This provision creates a chilling effect and a climate of self-censorship especially detrimental to members of associations of victims of enforced disappearances committed during Algeria’s “dark decade” seeking truth and justice.

The Penal Code also contains numerous provisions that restrict freedom of association and freedom of speech. The offenses of defamation or insults against civil servants or state institutions are still being used to impede the work of civil society actors.

After 2021, in order to enforce Ordinance No. 21-08, which broadened the definition of terrorism and provided for the establishment of a national list of terrorist persons and entities, the first terrorism list was published in the official gazette in February 2022. It includes the Rachad movement and the Movement for the Self-Determination of the Kabylie region (MAK) as well as 16 alleged members of both organizations. At the same time, the authorities also continued to resort to terrorism charges to prosecute individuals exercising peacefully their fundamental freedoms.

Notable cases include the following:

  • On January 24, 2022, journalist Abdelkrim Zeghileche was arrested and accused of “praising terrorism,” “using information technologies to spread terrorist ideas,” and “disseminating information that could harm the national interest” in connection with online posts and media interventions.
  • On February 18, 2022, human rights defender Zaki Hannache was arrested before being charged with “praising terrorism” and “undermining national unity” based on the documentation work he was carrying out on arbitrary arrests and prosecutions since 2019. On March 31, 2022,Zeghileche, Hannache and 70 other prisoners of conscience were temporary released pending their trial.
  • On March 24, 2022, Spain deported whistleblower, Mohamed Benhalima, to Algeria, despite the risks of torture and serious human rights violations he faces in his country. In 2021, Benhalima was sentenced in absentiato 20 years in prison for charges including “participation in a terrorist group” and “publishing fake news undermining national unity” on the basis of articles 87 bis 3 and 196 bis of the Penal Code. Benhalima is a former army corporal, who exposed corruption among Algeria’s high-ranking military officials in 2019. He sought asylum in Spain after receiving information that his name was on a list of wanted military officials at risk of detention by the Algerian army. His asylum application was rejected and Spanish authorities initiated expulsion proceedings on the basis of Benhalima’s alleged association with political opposition group Rachad.
  • On October 17, 2021, the First-Instance Tribunal of Adrar sentenced environmental activist Mohad Gasmi to five years in prison for “glorification of terrorism” for a Facebook publication. His sentence was reduced on appeal to two years in prison on June 9, 2022. On April 14, 2022, he had also been sentenced to three years in prison on the charge of “sharing confidential information without the intent of treason and espionage.” His appeal trial was postponed to June 30, 2022 after it was originally scheduled for June 15. The judgment was then upheld on appeal. He was initially arrested on June 14, 2020 and charged with “praising terrorism” in relation to two of his Facebook posts. In the first post, he called on the Algerian army to “serve the people” during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the second post, he claimed that the state was responsible for the armed movement in southern Algeria, the Mouvement des Enfants du Sud pour la Justice (MSJ), because of the government’s continued marginalization of people living in southern Algeria.

Consistent with the above examples, in January 2022, blogger and reporter Merzoug Touati was sentenced to a year in prison over his social media comments. Finally, on June 7, 2022, the director of the Algerian radio station Radio M and of the website Maghreb Emergent, Ihsane El Kadi, was sentenced to six months in prison. He was tried following a complaint filed by a former Minister of Communication in relation to an article published on the Radio M website about the Rachad movement and the Hirak protests. He was charged with “disseminating false information”, “disrupting elections”, and “reopening the issue on the national tragedy”. He is also being prosecuted before the court of Larbaa Nath Irathen in Tizi-Ouzou in another case for “belonging to a terrorist group.” He was again arrested on December 24, 2022 and placed in pretrial detention over illegal funding charges on December 29, 2022. On April 2, 2023, the Sidi M’Hamed court in Algiers sentenced Ihsane El Kadi to five years in prison, including two years on probation. More than two months later, on June 18, 2023, his sentence was increased by the Algiers Court of Appeal to seven years in prison, including two years on probation.

As for the right to receive and impart information, the Algerian authorities have continued their annual practice of shutting down the internet during national school exams to prevent students from cheating. The first disruptions were reported in 2016 and have occurred every year since, including in 2022. Such measures disproportionately affect millions of internet users in Algeria, especially those whose work and livelihoods rely on social media and the internet.

Barriers to International Contact

The Law on Associations requires associations to secure approval from the Ministry of the Interior before entering into a “cooperation agreement” with any international entities. (Under the previous law, associations needed prior approval only in order to join an international organization as a member, not to carry out “cooperation agreements.”) This requirement gives the government broad discretion to restrict different forms of cooperation between Algerian and international associations, and among other things, limits associations’ ability to receive foreign funding and coordinate projects with their peers in the international community. High-ranking government officials have publicly criticized international NGOs and warned civil society against holding meetings with foreign missions that “undermine the country’s internal affairs.”

Foreign associations are allowed to operate in Algeria, but their authorization may be suspended or withdrawn if the Interior Ministry deems their activities “likely to affect the national sovereignty, the established institutional order, the national unity or integrity of the national territory, public morality and order, or the national values of the Algerian people.” They may likewise be de-authorized for carrying out activities outside those provided for in their statutes. An association is considered foreign if one director or board member is a foreign national. Foreign NGOs might also be prohibited from operating in Algeria if the foreign association’s host country has not concluded a bilateral agreement with Algeria.

Lastly, Algeria has been mentioned in the four last reports of UN Secretary-General for intimidation and reprisals against those who cooperate with the UN in the field of human rights, including the 2020 report (A/HRC/45/36); 2019 report (A/HRC/42/30 ); 2018 report (A/HRC/39/41); and 2017 report (A/HRC/36/31). The concerns of the Secretary-General came after reports were submitted to the Human Rights Committee in July 2018 about government reprisals against CSO members for having cooperated with the Committee (see CCPR/C/DZA/CO/4, para. 8 (b)).

Barriers to Resources

Article 53 of the 2020 Algerian Constitution provides that “the right to create associations is guaranteed. It is exercised by simple declaration.” While the introduction of a notification, or “declaration,” system in the Constitution is a positive development, Law No. 12-06 of January 12, 2012 on associations is still not fully consistent with the provisions of article 22 of the ICCPR. Under that law, the founding of an association is subject to an authorization procedure whereby cooperation with foreign organizations and the receipt of funds from abroad are subject to prior clearance from the authorities, and associations may be dissolved by a simple administrative decision for reasons of “interference with the domestic affairs of the country’ or “affront to national sovereignty”. The authorities have yet to pass a law aligned with both the Constitution and international human rights law.

Article 30 of the Law 12-06 on associations states that “apart from duly established cooperation relations”, associations are prohibited from receiving donations, subsidies or any other contribution from any “foreign legations or non-governmental organizations”, and that such funding is subject to prior approval by the competent authority, thereby depriving associations of sources of funding vital to their survival.

Penal Code amendments that came into force on April 29, 2020 created a new criminal offense that may be used to restrict funding for civil society leaders and organizations. Law No. 20-06 introduced article 95 bis, which sanctions with “imprisonment of five to seven years and a fine of 500,000 to 700,000 Algerian Dinars, anyone who receives funds, a gift or an advantage, by any means, from a State, an institution or any other public or private body or from any legal or natural person, inside or outside the country, to carry out or incite to carry out acts likely to undermine the security of the State, the stability and normal functioning of its institutions, national unity, territorial integrity, the fundamental interests of Algeria or public security and order.”

The same provision additionally doubles the penalty when the funds are received “within the framework of an association, group, organization or agreement, regardless of is from or name.”

Article 95 bis thus provides the authorities with excessive power to prosecute activists and human rights defenders receiving foreign funding if they consider that their peaceful advocacy activities undermine the “normal functioning of institutions” or “national unity.”

On February 7, 2023, the President promulgated Law No. 23-01 amending and supplementing Law No. 05-01 on the prevention and combating of money laundering and terrorist financing. The law provides that associations must “refrain from receiving any donations or grants considered by law as a crime or misdemeanour, from natural or legal persons or organisations or bodies involved, inside or outside the territory of the Republic, in activities related to terrorist offences”. Considering the broad scope of terrorist offenses listed in the Penal Code, this law further impedes Algerian NGOs, as the authorities could easily consider that they receive funds from natural or legal persons involved in “terrorist offences”.

Lastly, in April 2021, the Algerian authorities arrested several members of the cultural association SOS Bab El-Oued, including its president Nacer Meghnine and relied on the new provisions of the Penal Code introduced by Law No. 20-06. They then charged them for receiving “foreign funding” and “subversion.” On September 26, 2021, Meghnine was sentenced to eight months in prison and on November 14, 2021, his sentence was increased on appeal to one year in prison. He was finally released in April 2022.

Barriers to Assembly

Lack of Legal Protections

Algeria’s 2020 Constitution protects the freedom of assembly in Article 52, which states, “[t]he freedom of expression, association, and assembly is guaranteed.”

However, repressive assembly legislation, in combination with harsh decrees and an ongoing state of emergency from 1992 to 2011, have restricted Algerians’ ability to assemble. In 1991, Parliament amended and supplemented Law No. 89-28 of 1989 on Public Meetings and Demonstrations, narrowing the right to assemble and conduct meetings. The resulting law (Law No. 91-19) continues to regulate freedom of assembly in Algeria. A 2001 ban on all demonstrations in Algiers, enacted after a violent confrontation between protesters and police in the capital city, also remains in effect. In April 2015, for instance, police prevented a public march led by retirees and pensioners from entering Algiers to demonstrate in front of the Presidency.

According to Article 9 of Law No. 91-19, gatherings that “oppose national fundamental principles” or harm the “symbols of the revolution of November 1 [1954], the public order or public morals” are prohibited. This subjects people who participate in unauthorized demonstrations to possible prison sentences ranging from three months to a year or fines, or both.

Further, a state of emergency was imposed by presidential decree in 1992, enabling a crackdown on demonstrations and anti-government protests which were becoming widespread and occasionally violent at that time. The state of emergency was continually extended pursuant to legislative orders, until February 23, 2011, when it was finally lifted. Nonetheless, authorities continue to prohibit and crush demonstrations pursuant to Law 91-19 and the 2001 decree.

Vague Provisions

Law No. 91-19 prohibits any meeting or demonstration that “opposes national fundamental principles” or that harms “the symbols of the revolution of November 1, the public order or public morals.” Such vague language allows the government excessive discretion in forbidding an assembly based on its objectives.

Advance Notification

Law No. 91-19 requires that organizers of “public gatherings” notify the government at least three days prior to the gathering (articles 5, 15). The Law defines “public gatherings” as “temporary rallies of people, agreed upon beforehand and organized outside public roads in a closed place that is easy for people to join. Its purpose is the exchange of ideas or the defense of joint interests.” Authorities may prohibit the gathering with no obligation to explain their decision.

The Law distinguishes “public demonstrations,” which it defines as “processions, parades, or gatherings of people in a public manner, and all demonstrations that go through public roads.” For public demonstrations, the law requires that organizers request approval from the governor eight days before the demonstration’s planned date. The governor must make a decision, accepting or refusing the request, at least five days before the date set for holding the demonstration.

Appeals against administrative decisions in general are subject to articles 800 and 801 of the Civil and Administrative Procedure Code. Organizers of an assembly can thereby appeal a negative decision to an administrative court. However, groups have reported that, in practice, the authorities often wait until the last minute to notify assembly organizers of a refusal, giving them no time to appeal the decision to a court before the assembly’s start date.

On May 9, 2021, the Ministry of the Interior declared in a statement that any demonstration in Algeria will henceforth be prohibited if it does not benefit from a prior authorization, which will be issued only on the condition that the organizers communicate their identity as well as the start and end times of the gathering. Such restrictions are already contained in Law No. 91-19. However, the statement also mandates that the organizers must disclose the slogans that will be displayed during the demonstration.

Content Restrictions

Law No. 91-19 prohibits, “in any gathering or demonstration any prejudice towards national constants, or to the symbols of the November 1 Revolution, public order, or public morals.” The Law does not provide further definition for these terms.

On May 9, 2021, the Algerian Ministry of Interior declared in an official statement that “organizers of marches are required to declare to the competent services the names of those responsible for organizing the march, the times of its start and end, the route, and the slogans to be raised in accordance with the law.” Two days later, on May 11, 2021, the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights mentioned “sustained reports of unnecessary and disproportionate force against peaceful protesters, as well as continuing arrests.” In a briefing note, the spokesperson explained that “the authorities have continued to block access to meeting points for demonstrations; hundreds of protesters or anyone alleged by security forces to be a demonstrator are being arbitrarily arrested. Some protestors were reportedly detained and later released after being forced to sign a document promising to cease participating in protests.” On May 14, 2021, the Algerian authorities also arrested at least 16 journalists covering demonstrations in downtown Algiers before releasing them the next day.

Criminal Penalties

Law No. 91-19 imposes possible imprisonment and fines for participation in an illegal assembly. Article 23 states that “[a]nyone found responsible for participating in the organization of an unauthorized demonstration will get either a prison sentence ranging from three months to a year, a fine between 3,000 and 15,000 Algerian Dinars, or both.”

Articles 97 of the Penal Code prohibits “unarmed gatherings” while article 98 provides that “any unarmed person shall be punished by imprisonment of two months to one year who, who is part of an armed or unarmed gathering and does not abandon it after the first summons. The imprisonment is from six months to three years if the unarmed person continued to be part of an armed of an armed gathering that has only dissipated in the face of the use of force.”

Regarding “incitement to unarmed gathering”, article 100 of the Penal Code provides that “any direct provocation to an unarmed assembly either by speeches made publicly, or by writings or printed materials posted or distributed, is punishable by an imprisonment of two months to one year, if it was followed by effect, if not, by an imprisonment of one to six months and a fine of 2,000 to 5,000 Algerian Dinars or of one of these two penalties only.”

Blanket Bans on Demonstrations

While the decree installing the blanket ban on assemblies in the capital has not been published, the authorities admitted during the state’s periodic review before the UN Human Rights Committee that there was a general ban in the capital, stating that the necessities of public order and the fight against terrorism justified the ban (Replies to the list of issues, March 14, 2018, UN. Doc CCPR/C/DZA/Q/4/Add.1). In practice, Algerians living in Algiers have faced special restrictions aimed at precluding them from exercising their right to peaceful assembly because since 2001, all demonstrations have been indefinitely banned in the capital, with the law being consistently enforced. Such restrictions have been implemented under the Presidential Decree of June 18, 2001, although the decree was never published.

In addition, since February 2019, with the rise of the Hirak movement, the authorities have also resorted to thwarting protests across the country and detaining participants, including journalists, such as Khaled Drareni, who was sentenced to two years in prison for reporting on the demonstrations. On March 17, 2020, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune also banned all protests, marches, demonstrations, and other mass gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing an end to the weekly Hirak anti-government protests that had continued for more than a year.

UN Universal Periodic Review Reports Algeria reports
Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs Algeria reports
USIG (United States International Grantmaking) Country Notes Not available
U.S. State Department 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Algeria
Fragile States Index Reports Foreign Policy Failed States Index
IMF Country Reports Algeria and the IMF
International Commission of Jurists Algeria
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Online Library Algeria

While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change.  If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at

General News

UN rights expert calls on Algeria to pardon convicted protesters (September 2023)
“The Government must loosen tight restrictions on assemblies and associations to bring laws and practice into conformity with the national Constitution and international human rights law”, said Clément Voule, Special Rapporteur on the right to assembly, in a statement at the end of a 10-day official visit to Algeria. He was there as the country weighs ongoing reforms to bring legislation into line with the 2020 Constitution and the aspirations of what are known as the “Hirak demonstrations”, which saw hundreds of thousands of Algerians take to the streets across major cities to protest every week for more than a year between 2019 and 2020.

Kamira Nait Sid and Slimane Bouhafs sentenced to 3 years in prison (July 2023)
On July 4, 2023, the Dar El Beida Court sentenced Kamira Nait Sid, co-president of the Amazigh World Congress (CMA), and Slimane Bouhafs, a UNHCR-recognized refugee and Christian Amazigh activist, who was abducted and forcibly returned from Tunis in 2021, to three years in prison for “undermining national territorial integrity”.

Mohad Gasmi has been in detention for three years and will go on hunger strike from July 5 (July 2023)
Environmental activist, Mohad Gasmi, who is being held in Adrar prison, has decided to go on hunger strike from July 5 on the occasion of the 61st anniversary of Algeria’s independence. A community activist and environmentalist, Mohad Gasmi has become a leading figure in citizen protests in the south of the country. He was heavily involved in the movement of the unemployed in the south and the 2019 Hirak. He was a leading figure against shale gas operations between 2012 and 2015.

Algeria: Free People Held After Activist Fled (June 2023)
Algerian authorities have been holding at least four people for more than four months, including a journalist, for allegedly helping an activist to leave the country in February 2023, Human Rights Watch, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and EuroMed Rights said on June 27, 2023. The activist, Amira Bouraoui, who was convicted for her peaceful activism and was subjected to an arbitrary travel ban since 2021, fled across the Tunisian border.

Algeria: Journalist Ihsane El-Kadi sentenced to three years in prison (April 2023)
The Algerian press owner Ihsane El-Kadi, quite critical of the government, was sentenced on [April 2] to five years in prison, of which three years are firm, announced the court of Sidi M’hamed in Algiers, which delivered its verdict in the presence of the accused. The court also ordered the dissolution of the company Interface Médias, publisher of the two media outlets run by Mr El-Kadi, the confiscation of all its assets, and a fine of 10 million dinars (more than 68,000 euros) against his company.

In Algeria, journalists are under increasing pressure (April 2023)
The new media regulation law passed by the Assembly is now being examined by the Senate and should be adopted quickly. It provides for a stronger framework for the work of journalists, in an already very restrictive context for press freedom.

Statement by the GI-TOC on the arrest of senior analyst Raouf Farrah (February 2023)
Following press reports in local Algerian media, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) can confirm that on February 14, 2023, Raouf Farrah, Senior Analyst with the GI-TOC was arrested in Annaba, Algeria, by officers of the Gendarmerie Nationale and the judicial police. Raouf was visiting his parents with his wife and child when detained. He has been held under arrest since. Both his parents have also been detained and although his mother was released, his father remains in detention at the time of writing.

Algeria: Reverse decision to dissolve leading human rights group (February 2023)
The Administrative Court of Algiers dissolved the LADDH following a complaint filed by the Interior Ministry on June 29, 2022, the organization said on January 20, 2023, after it learned of the judgment by finding it on the internet. The LADDH, which said it had been unaware of the judicial proceedings, including the complaint, is the most recent organization targeted by the authorities’ campaign to neutralize independent civil society organizations.

Algeria Arrests Relatives of Wanted Dissident: Rights Group (February 2023)
Algerian authorities have arrested the mother and sister of wanted activist Amira Bouraoui days after she left for France, a rights group and a radio reported on April 12, 2023. Bouraoui, a French-Algerian doctor by training, had been arrested in Tunisia and risked being deported to Algeria, but she was finally able to board a flight to France on Monday evening. She was sentenced in Algeria in May 2021 to two years in jail for “offending Islam” and for insulting the president. Her departure, following French intervention, created a diplomatic incident between Algiers and Paris, with Algeria recalling its ambassador from France for consultations.

Journalist Ihsane El Kadi is under arrest (December 2022)
After six days in police custody, the director of the independent websites Radio M and Maghreb émergent was placed in detention on December 29, 2022. He is accused of having received funds from abroad.

2022 a “dark year” for journalism (December 2022)
In Algeria, journalist Ishane El Kadi was placed in pre-trial detention on the evening of Thursday 29 December. Arrested a week earlier, the founder of Radio M is under investigation for illegal fundraising and allegedly undermining state security. This new arrest comes on top of the closure of media outlets and the convictions of other Algerian journalists in recent months. At the dawn of a new year, what is left of the Algerian free press?

Towards a restriction of the right to strike? (November 2022)
A draft law revising the right to strike in certain sectors of the public service is alarming the unions. Will the unions soon be silenced? This is the fear of the president of the Autonomous Union of Education and Training Workers (Satef), Boualem Amoura, as the authorities have launched a revision of the law on the exercise of the right to organize, but also on the prevention and settlement of conflicts at work. As decided during the Council of Ministers of October 23, 2022 the executive is refining the list of state sectors deemed “sensitive”, and in which social movements could soon no longer be authorized. The forthcoming law should also delimit the boundaries between trade union and political practices, and set out the modalities for the creation of a trade union and the conditions required to join it, in order to put an end to “trade union transhumance”.

Journalists demonstrate and demand the release of Belkacem Houam (September 2022)
Around fifty journalists gathered on September 14 at the Abdelkader Safir press house in Kouba to denounce the imprisonment of Echourouk journalist Belkacem Houam, who was placed under a detention order following an article he wrote about Algerian Deglet Nour dates.

Visit of the UN special rapporteur postponed (September 2022)
The visit of the UN special rapporteur on freedom of association, assembly and demonstration, which was scheduled for September 12 to 22, has been postponed at the request of the Algerian government. According to a source close to the matter, it has been postponed to 2023, without specifying a date.

Kaddour Chouicha prevented from travelling (August 2022)
On August 24, 2022, the Border Police Services of the Oran International Airport prevented the Vice President of The Algerian League for The Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) and national coordinator of the Union of Teachers in Solidarity, Kaddour Chouicha, from leaving the country and travelling via an Oran-Paris flight.

Social networks and messaging inaccessible (June 2022)
For 2022, while the internet is not severely disrupted as it was in 2021, social networks have been inaccessible since the start of exams. Instant messengers like WhatsApp, Messenger, Signal and others are also down. The aim is to prevent fraudsters from using social networks and messengers to distribute papers or send answers to examination candidates via instant messaging applications.

Authorities must release defence lawyers and stop assault on right to fair trial  (June 2022)
Amnesty International calls on the Algerian authorities to immediately release and drop all charges against three defense lawyers who were arrested and prosecuted for defending their clients and exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Online campaign calls on Algerian authorities to stop assault on civic space and fundamental freedoms (May 2022)
#NotACrime is an online campaign aiming to draw attention to the ways in which Algerian authorities have increasingly attempted to stifle dissenting voices and independent civil society. Launched by 38 Algerian, regional, and international organizations, the campaign was conducted on the organisations’ respective social media accounts.

Algeria newspaper Liberte closes after 30 years (April 2022)
Prominent Algerian newspaper Liberté printed its last issue on April 14, 2022, three decades after it was established and a week after its owner, the country’s richest man, decided to liquidate it.

Mounting repression as more human rights defenders are detained (March 2022)
Algerian authorities have ramped up their assault on civil society in recent weeks, with 27 human rights defenders and peaceful activists arrested in February alone.

Three Years On, Repression on Protest Tightens (February 2022)
Three years after the movement known as the “Hirak” began its massive weekly peaceful street marches for political reform, the authorities are detaining at least 280 activists, including many who are associated with Hirak. Some face charges of terrorism based on a definition so broad that it is arbitrary.

Escalating repression threatens the survival of independent civil society (February 2022)
On the third anniversary of Algeria’s pro-democracy protest movement, Hirak, a coalition of organizations express their strong concern at the dangerous intensification of Algerian authorities’ repressive tactics to silence peaceful dissent and stifle civil society. The arrests of human rights defenders Zaki Hannache and Faleh Hammoudi respectively are the latest examples of these repressive tactics.

Leading pro-democracy NGO dissolved by the courts (October 2021)
Rassemblement Actions Jeunesse (RAJ), a major Algerian civil society organisation, has been sanctioned by the administrative court of Algiers for alleged violation of the law on associations. The court pronounced, on October 13, 2021, the dissolution of the NGO, which had been at the forefront of the pro-democracy Hirak movement.

Repression in Algeria: Could it end the Hirak Movement? (July 2021)
In an attempt to prevent any structured opposition groups from succeeding, Algerian authorities have filed legal complaints seeking to dissolve the Socialist Workers Party (PST) and the Union for Change and Progress (UCP), both of which support the Hirak protests. The authorities have also attempted to suppress any form of organized dissent by labeling dissident groups, such as the Movement for Kabylie’s self-determination (MAK), as terrorist groups. This has been matched by a heightened crackdown on dissent through the arrest of hundreds of people participating in the Hirak protests.

Algeria cancels France 24’s operating license (June 2021)
One day after parliamentary elections were held in Algeria, the Algerian communications ministry canceled the accreditation of France 24, a French state-owned international TV station. The authorities accused the TV station of practicing “disinformation and manipulation in addition to confirmed hostility against Algeria.” The French TV station, which had covered the Hirak protests in February and March 2021, was also accused of having a “clear and repeated hostility towards [Algeria] and its institutions.”

Oldest party wins most seats in voting for ‘new Algeria’ (June 2021)
Algeria’s elections, which took place on June 12, 2021, witnessed a record low voter turnout that saw the National Liberation Front (FLN) securing most of the seats in parliament. The FLN, the ruling party in Algeria since the country’s independence in 1962, won 105 of 407 parliamentary seats. The elections, however, were boycotted by Hirak protestors and traditional opposition parties after the authorities’ crackdown on protesters through the arrest of hundreds of people in the months leading up to the elections.

UN High Commissioner press briefing notes on Algeria (May 2021)
The spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern about the human rights situation in Algeria, particularly with regards to freedom of opinion, expression, and peaceful assembly. Since the resumption of protests in February 2021, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has received numerous reports of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force against peaceful protesters, as well as continuing arrests. The OHCHR has urged the Algerian authorities to stop using violence to disperse peaceful demonstrations and to halt the arbitrary arrest of individuals exercising their fundamental human rights.

Algeria to impose restrictions on street protests (May 2021)
The Algerian Ministry of Interior has announced that all protests without prior approval from the authorities will be banned. In order to acquire prior approval, organizers must provide their names and a start and finishing time for the demonstration. According to the ministry, “failure to comply with these procedures will result in violating the law and the constitution, which denies the legitimacy of the march, and it will be necessary to deal with it on this basis.”

Le journaliste Rabah Karèche reste en prison malgré les protestations (April 2021)
On April 19, 2021, Algerian journalist Rabah Karèche was detained by the Algerian judicial police in the city of Tamanrasset. Karèche, a correspondent for the daily newspaper Liberté, was accused of disseminating “false news harmful to the public order,” undermining national security and unity, and using an electronic account to spread “information prone to causing segregation and hatred in society.” Karèche was arrested in response to an article he had published the day before regarding land-use protests organized by the Tuareg tribe in southern Algeria.

Islamic scholar sentenced to three-year prison term for “offending Islam” (April 2021)
Saïd Djabelkhir is an islamologist who has specialised in the study of Sufi Islam. He was sentenced on April 22, 2021, to three years in prison for “offense to Islam” by the Court of Sidi Mhamed following the filing of a complaint by private individuals in January 2020. The complainants felt that he had used derogatory and offensive terms against the Muslim religion. He was not placed under a detention order following his conviction.

Algerians back constitutional reforms amid low voter turnout (November 2020)
A proposal to change Algeria’s constitution won the most votes in Sunday’s referendum, the election commission said, but the very low turnout undercut the government strategy of using the poll to turn a page on last year’s political unrest. The Hirak protest movement had called for a boycott, dismissing the revised constitution as a “facade” of change.

Algerian journalist  jailed for two years on appeal (September 2020)
Algerian journalist Khaled Drareni received a two-year prison term at his appeal hearing on Tuesday, in a trial rights groups have called a test of press freedom in a country recently rocked by anti-government protests. Drareni, 40, an editor at the Casbah Tribune news site and correspondent for French-language channel TV5 Monde, had been sentenced to three years in jail in August for his coverage of Algeria’s anti-government protests.

Algeria’s Hirak protesters defy virus lockdown (May 2020)
Algerians resumed anti-regime protests in several cities in support of detainees of the “Hirak” movement, defying the ban of demonstrations during the pandemic. The protests took place during the Eid Al-Fitr celebrations in the North African country despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the ban on demonstrations.

Algeria accused of using coronavirus to ‘settle scores’ with media (April 2020)
Several rights groups have accused Algerian authorities of taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists covering long-running anti-government protests. Reporters Without Borders (RSF), along with 16 other rights groups, released an updated statement on Friday calling on authorities to release one of their journalists who was arrested on 29 March.

Leading Algerian activist jailed as crackdown continues (April 2020)
The sentencing of yet another leading figure close to Algeria’s anti-government movement has sparked an outcry, as authorities continue their clampdown on opposition figures and journalists despite the coronavirus pandemic. The Sidi M’hamed court in Algiers on Monday sentenced Abdelouahab Fersaoui, head of the civic group Youth Action Rally (RAJ) and a leading activist of the popular movement, to one year in prison.

“Fake news” bill will tighten gag on press freedom in Algeria (April 2020)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns an Algerian bill criminalizing “fake news” that “undermines public order and security” or “state security and national unity.” This vaguely worded and draconian legislation is designed to tighten the gag on press freedom, RSF said.

Anti-government protests thwarted as Algeria bans street marches over coronavirus (March 2020)
Algeria has banned street protests over the coronavirus, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said, bringing to an end a year of unprecedented mass demonstrations. The protest movement, known as the Hirak, exploded onto the streets in February 2019 as it became clear that octogenarian leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika would seek another term as president after 20 years in the job.

Algeria: One Year On, Activists Languish in Jail (February 2020)
Dozens of protesters and activists remain in jail a year after pro-democracy protests began in Algeria, Human Rights Watch said today. Many are facing trial hearings in February and March 2020. Following presidential elections in December 2019, the authorities released many jailed activists but prominent leaders of the movement who had been imprisoned since September or October remain behind bars.

The Algerian Hirak: what role for civil society? (February 2020)
It has been almost one year since the beginning of the popular uprising known as the “Hirak”, a movement marked by its innovation, its pacifism and its quest for justice and equality. Is it time for the first self-assessment of civil society? This article aims at starting a debate about the actual role of civil society organizations and the movement, and discusses the mechanisms by which more effective and transparent participation can exist.

In Algeria, a dangerous crackdown on independent trade unions (February 2020)
Independent trade unionists in Algeria face escalating repression for their role in the ongoing democracy movement.

Algeria’s new president reiterates reform pledges, protesters divided (December 2019)
While Tebboune outlined a strategy to diversify the economy and end Algeria’s dependence on oil and gas exports, his promises of reforms and economic diversification seemed similar to pledges made by Bouteflika a few days before he was ousted. Opposition leader Soufiane Djilali and other politicians said they face a dilemma: either accept dialogue or take the radical path of civil disobedience. Leaderless protests underlined the weakness of opposition parties, which are struggling to push for broader political freedoms.

Algeria: Escalating Repression of Protesters. Leaders Arrested Ahead of Disputed Presidential Elections (November 2019)
Algerian authorities have arrested scores of pro-democracy movement activists since September 2019. Many remain detained on vague charges such as “harming national unity” and “undermining the morale of the army.” The authorities should immediately and unconditionally release the peaceful activists and respect the rights to free speech and assembly of all Algerians. A protest movement known as the Hirak in Arabic initially came together in February to oppose President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s plan to seek a fifth term, and has maintained its momentum with huge demonstrations every Friday calling for the ouster of the existing government and a more pluralistic and inclusive framework to prepare for free elections. Authorities initially tolerated the protests, but beginning in June started arresting groups of protesters, including at least 40 for brandishing the Amazigh flag, a symbol of that ethnic group that, until then, had been tolerated.

Algerian activists demand a place at the table (June 2019)
On June 15, Algiers hosted a National Conference of Civil Society with the aim of producing a roadmap on how to shape the country’s – hopefully – democratic future. Yet at a time when civil society is just beginning to re-awaken, some wonder whether it will really be able to influence the possible transition that is looming.

Hundreds of Algerians protest against proposed energy law  (October 2019)
Algerians protested in front of parliament on Sunday October 13, 2019 against proposed changes to the energy law that they say the caretaker government has no right to pass. The draft law was agreed by the cabinet on Sunday, interim president Abdelkader Bensalah was quoted by state media as saying. It must still be approved by parliament. Protesters said the law was draw up by the caretaker government to secure support of Western countries in a standoff over mass protests that have rocked Algeria for months. The government did not immediately comment.

Civil society organizations in Algeria agree to a “transition from six months to one year” (June 2019)
For the first time since the beginning of the protest movement, unions and associations have managed to find a consensus for a way out of the crisis. The long awaited first National Conference on the Dynamics of Civil Society, held on Saturday June 15 in Algiers, reached a joint text. These Algerian autonomous collectives, associations, and unions of very different ideologies have adopted a framework “for a way out of the crisis and a democratic transition.” The document agrees on the need for “a transition period ranging from six months to a year” and the installation of an “independent commission to direct, organize and declare the results of the elections,” with the aim of moving “towards a new Republic.”

NGOs call for more freedom, end to restrictive associations law (October 2018)
Several Algerian human rights groups have called for the cancellation of a law they say violates their ability to work freely, proposing instead new legislation to guarantee their rights. The law, which deals with the work of Algerian associations and has been in force since 2012, was described as “villainous” by Abdelouahab Fersaoui, president of youth group Rassemblement Action Jeunesse. At a news conference in Algiers, the country’s capital, Fersaoui said the law forces NGOs to obtain state approval to operate, and the government has the ability to investigate a group’s activities and financing. The law was passed as part of a wider effort by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to stem any potential Arab Spring-style protests in 2011.

Algeria ‘fails’ on human rights and freedom of expression, says EU (October 2017)
The European Union’s annual report on human rights and democracy noted several “failures” in Algeria on human rights issues, noting that the practice of certain fundamental rights “continued — sometimes — to be hampered in practice,” said the report. The report also noted that Algeria’s law on associations undermines the functioning of local and international associations in Algeria, and that several of the EU’s partners “have not yet received authorization to officially register as associations and therefore cannot properly carry out their activities in the country.”

Algeria should accept UPR recommendations on freedom of speech, assembly and association (September 2017)
Human Rights Watch called on Algeria to accept key recommendations from the 2012 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process related to freedom of speech, assembly and association. In particular, Human Rights Watch said, it should accept the recommendation to revise or repeal Law 12-06 on associations, a law extensively used by the government to restrict freedom of association.

Government: 60,000 Associations Outside the Law (December 2016)
The Interior Ministry reported that 60,000 organizations were operating illegally in Algeria, across 45 states.

Algeria on the Brink? Five Years after the Arab Spring (May 2016)
Despite the Arab uprisings of 2011 and sweeping changes reshaping many of its neighbors, Algeria has remained relatively stable and its long-entrenched regime resilient. Yet the status quo faces internal and external challenges that threaten to plunge the country into disorder.

Will a New Constitution Help Algeria? (February 2016)
The government’s adoption of new constitutional amendments aimed to improve the country’s political and economic situation, but opposition groups criticize the draft as nonconsensual and not addressing the country’s key crises.

Arrested for Ironic Facebook Post (March 2015)
Algerian labor rights activist Rachid Aouine was arrested on March 1, on the grounds of ironic comments he made on Facebook about police and the right to protest. Rachid Aouine was accused of “inciting an unarmed gathering” and could face up to one year in jail.

Algerian Civil Society Committed to Fight against Climate Change (October 2014)
More than 120 Heads of State and Government joined business and civil society leaders for the 2014 UN Climate Summit that aims to mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement on climate change in 2015 and deliver concrete new commitments. “Algeria is firmly committed to contributing to the global effort aimed at combating climate change,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Ramtane Lamamra.

News archive

Algerian Churches, NGOs Wary as ‘Restrictive’ Law Comes into Force (January 2014)

Protest Picnic Defends Ramadan Rights of Algerian Christians (September 2013)

New Law On Associations Used to Stifle Civil Society (May 2013)

EU-Algeria Association Council: Priority to Human Rights! (December 2012)

Algerian Government reconciles with citizens (November 2012)

Human rights activist arrested by Algerian police (October 2012)

UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay calls for Algeria to reconsider restrictions on CSOs (September 2012)

Algeria rights activist cleared of charges (September 2012)

ANHRI denounces detention of four activists in Algeria on assembly charges (June 2012)

Upcoming elections must address civil society’s legitimate demands on freedom of association (May 2012)

Harassment of union leaders and bans on demonstrations continue in Algeria despite the repeal of the state of emergency (March 2012)

New Media Law Stifles Free Expression, says CPJ (January 2012)

Algeria’s Bouteflika to end State TV and radio control (September 2011)

Algerian women test the ‘Arab Spring’ winds (March 2011)

Change in Algeria fundamental for human rights and security (February 2011)

Rally for culture and democracy (January 2011)

Aid groups advocate solution to decades-old warehousing of refugees (April 2010)

Last updated: 10 October 2023