Human Rights

Algeria: President Announces Amnesty To Thousands Of Prisoners

North Africa

Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune announces a presidential amnesty to 3,471 prisoners who were arrested during the protests.

Algerian president Abdelmedjid Tebboune has made his first edict regarding prisoners who were arrested during the protests. Their release from prison has been a key demand of the protesters over the past few months, and Tebboune has made a measured response by releasing 3,451 prisoners. Nevertheless, prominent protest figures who were arrested as prisoners of conscience have not been released, to the consternation of protesters.

The majority of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience had not yet been sentenced and so they are not part of the recently announced amnesty to prisoners. Those who are being released were generally already given sentences lasting a number of months.

Other prisoners who have also been excluding from the pardon are those linked with drug crimes, terrorism, corruption, smuggling, rape and murder.

The National Committee for the Release of Detainees counted 142 protesters arrested in pre-trial detention and 1,300 others were prosecuted in cases related to the presidential campaign. The Committee insists that the number of those released was 200, most of them in the beginning of this year.

One of the more prominent prisoners of conscience who remains in prison is Karim Tabbou, who has played a key role in the public protest movement known as Hirak. He has been in prison for over 140 days and his detainment has been prolonged by four months, in absence of a sentence. Tabbou is the head of the Democratic and Social Union. The European Parliament has called for his release.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who was elected the new president of Algeria following the controversial elections on 12 December 2019, has stated that he intends to enter into a national dialogue with the protest movement, and this amnesty is meant to represent this intent. Nevertheless, this move is not likely to appease the protest movement since prominent members of the movement have not been pardoned and remain in prison.