The ICJ today called on the Algerian authorities to reverse the decision of the Minister of Justice to transfer 2’998 judges, and instead ensure their right to security of tenure and protect the individual and institutional independence of the judiciary in the country.
The ICJ further called on the authorities to refrain from any unlawful or disproportionate use of force against the judges who are currently on strike in a protest against the Minister’s decision.
The call comes after security forces stormed the Oran’s Court of Appeal on 3 November 2019, using force against the judges to end the strike, and amidst the growing, legitimate demands for the establishment of the rule of law and the end the executive’s control over the judiciary.
“The Algerian authorities must end their interference in judicial affairs and ensure that all decisions pertaining to the management of the career of judges, including transfers, are taken by an independent High Judicial Council on the basis of objective criteria and transparent procedures,” said Said Benarbia, Director of ICJ’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
Under Organic Law n° 04-12 on the High Judicial Council (HJC), the President and Vice-President of the HJC are respectively the Algerian President and the Minister of Justice. For this and other reasons the ICJ considers that the HJC as currently constituted is not independent of the executive, and consequently that the judiciary as a whole is both institutionally and in practice subordinated to the executive in contravention of international standards on judicial independence and impartiality.
“Instead of attacking judges who are seeking to defend the rule of law, the most urgent priority for Algerian authorities should be the reform of the HJC to ensure its full independence,” Benarbia added.
In 2018, the Human Rights Committee expressed, in its Concluding Observations on the fourth periodic report of Algeria, its concerns over the insufficient guarantees for judicial independence and the need to strengthen the independence and the powers of the HJC.
Said Benarbia, Director of ICJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program, t: +41 22 979 38 17 ; e: said.benarbia(a)icj.org
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