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HRW: Algeria should rescind ban on protests in capital city

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Monday expressed concern [press release] about Algerian authorities suppressing demonstrations in the weeks leading up to the Algerian elections. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika [official profile, in French] is running for a fourth term, and the crackdown on protests appears to focus [UPI report] on demonstrators opposing Bouteflika's election to a fourth five-year term. Demonstrations in Algeria's capital city, Algiers, have been banned since 2001. However, numerous measures [APS report] have been taken to ensure a fair electoral process. The African Union [official website] announced on Saturday that it will send 200 observers [APS report] to Algeria to ensure transparency in the electoral process. The Arab League [official website, in Arabic] will also be sending observers [APS report]. Algeria will hold its elections on April 17.

During Algeria's 2012 elections, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Peaceful Assembly and Association urged Algeria to use its upcoming legislative elections to address concerns [JURIST report] about inadequate freedoms of expression and association. In December 2011 Algeria passed a controversial media law [JURIST report] preventing journalists from undermining the Algerian government and its policies and security. Earlier that year a UN rights expert called on Algeria to guarantee freedoms [JURIST report] of opinion and expression to its people. This came a week after Bouteflika promised to reform [JURIST report] the country's constitution and change its election laws to appease political protesters. The government lifted its 19-year state of emergency [JURIST report] the month before amid protests.

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