At UN, Algeria Seeks Ouster of "Terrorist" NGO, Secret
Complaint Withheld by UN
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
January 25 -- A secret complaint was
lodged at the UN by Algeria on January 19 against the non-governmental
organization the Arab Commission for Human Rights.
complaint, set to
be ruled on in a closed-down meeting on January 26 has yet to be
released, it appears to allege that the group allowed its spot before
Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 11, 2008 to be taken by another
which is critical of Algeria's and others' records with regard to
prisoners, freedom of the press and related issues.
complaint gets more
explosive with the statement that NGO representative, Mr. Rachid Mesli,
been charged in and by Algeria with terrorism, and is on the UN
Council's Resolution 1267 terrorism list.
invocation of terrorism has become the ultimate trump card in such
UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions has previously had to
"Rachid Mesli is a prisoner of conscience, who
solely because of his activities as a human rights advocate." See, U.N.
Doc. E/CN.4/2000/4/Add.1 at 82, available here.
Amnesty International said that
those proceedings against Mesli "clearly violated international
for fair trial."
Neither Algeria nor the UN Committee have been
willing for the past week to
release to the Press any of the documents or evidence that make up the
Rachid Mesli, at right with Guantanamo sign,
Algeria's complaint not shown
prepared remarks for June 11, 2008 remain online on Alkarama's web
and state of Algeria that
"nothing should justify
maintaining the state of emergency and the exorbitant powers granted to
military intelligence services (DRS). This is the situation which
the cancelling of the electoral process of 1992, causing 200,000 deaths
more than 10,000 disappearances. The mechanism of UPR should not be a
door to reality and be consistent with the findings of Treaty
and special procedures. This is not just for the Human Rights Council's
credibility but also for the entire system of protection of human
rights in the
complaint was discussed on January 19 and January 23 in the NGO
the Economic and Social Council, with a decision on whether to suspend
the group's UN accreditation now scheduled for Monday, January 26, in
closed-down "informal" consultations. Inner City Press, which first
reported the controversy, then asked the chief of the UN's NGO Section,
Mezoui, for a copy of the written complaint that Algeria filed.
answered, "Not yet, because we are not even dealing with the case.
You will have all the paper you need on Friday."
Press reiterated that it would like to see the complain, if only to
report further on it on Friday. Again
Ms. Mezoui said no, "because today it will be only confusing, scaring
Ms. Mezoui for her advice on how to report, Inner City Press reminded
when a country files a letter with the Security Council, for example,
becomes a public document available to the press, whether or not it
frightening or confusing.
said, "we're not going to give you the document now, because you heard
what happened. It is still under review with no decision. Whatever you
would be...". Her voice trailed off.
This is why the UN needs a Freedom of
Information rule, to require the release of documents.
Press asked the Algerian representative for a copy, but none was given.
did, however, provide Inner City Press with an explanation on the night
January 23 during a reception commemorating Sudan taking over the Group
and China. Notably, Sudan also chairs the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs, and
Deputy Permanent Representative pushed Algeria's complaint, Agenda Item
forward throughout the week. His boss, the Permanent Representative, on
23 told Inner City Press with some mirth that the two NGOs will be
thrown out. We'll see.
if the complaint, and some other countries' support for the complaint,
spring from human rights testimony delivered by the groups. Cuba spoke
of the complaint, noting that it too has faced NGOs who try only to
the nation. [Twice last week the U.S. representative on the Committee
to provide the Press with a copy of the Complaint, saying both times
doesn't have "instructions" yet from Washington. The UK
representative suggested the Monday proceeding, which will be closed to
Press. It should be noted that both the US and UK governments deploy
terrorism moniker to their advantage.]
The UN is
run and owned by member states, a number of speakers on January 23
these governments should not be subject in the UN to critiques that are
"unsubstantiated." But what if they are substantiated?
representative told Inner City Press that Mr. Mesli has been charged
"providing communications equipment" to a terrorist group, Al Qaeda
in the Islamic Maghreb.
Mesli is identified as a member an organization which seeks
the overthrow of Algerian President Bouteflika, Rachad, along with Mourad
Dhina, who after "the dissolution of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS)
[the main Algerian Islamist party] in 1992, fled to Saint Genis Pouilly
[in France nearby the Swiss border and who]admits that he has 'almost
constant' contacts with Abbas Madani, the historical FIS leader and
Madani’s right hand Ali Belhadj. Both were jailed in Algeria for 12
years, both always refused to condemn the terrorist acts of the GSPC
(Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat) now called Al Qaeda in the
The Algerian representative twice asked Inner
City Press if it has an interest in the group, Alkarama. There were no
other media organizations seated in the ECOSOC Committee on NGO
meetings on January 19 and January 23.
the question of whether or not Mr. Mesli is a terrorist, although
sure to claim that since their courts say so, it is so. There is the
of whether it is in fact without precedent for accredited NGOs to allow
to speak. But there is also the question of why the UN feels it can
basic documents like this complaint, and then seek to deliberate and
rule on it
in secret. Watch this site.
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