Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch Tuesday called for the immediate release of Algerian activist Slimane Bouhafs. According to organizations, Algerian authorities have progressively employed the Algerian penal code’s wide definition of terrorism to prosecute activists and human rights defenders and targeted other critics among the Algerian diaspora with travel bans and extradition.
In 2016, An Algerian court sentenced Bouafs to three years imprisonment for “offending the Prophet” and “denigrating the creed and precepts of Islam” in a Facebook post under Article 144 bis 2 of Algeria’s Penal Code. In 2018 Bouhafs was released after receiving a presidential pardon. He then traveled to Tunisia and was granted refugee status from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in 2020.
In August 2021, Bouhafs was taken forcefully by an unidentified men in civilian clothes. In September 2021, Bouhafs appeared in an First Instance Court in Sidi M’Hamed, Algiers. The court a initiated criminal investigation against him for alleged links with the Movement for the Self-Determination of Kabylie, an alleged terrorist organization, and for Facebook posts.
The Court remanded Bouhafs to prison pending investigation for 10 charges under Algeria’s penal code. The alleged offences are association with a terrorist organization, glorification of terrorism, undermining the integrity of the national territory, offences against the Prophet, publication of false news, inciting hatred and racial discrimination and obtaining foreign funding. Algerian authorities have refused requests to grant Bouhafs provisional release at least four times.