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Human Rights Watchdog demands probe into death of Algerian ‘political prisoner’

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An Algerian Human Rights Watchdog, the League for the Defense of Human Rights, LADDH, has called on the country’s judicial authorities to investigate the death of a political prisoner, Hakim Debazi, who allegedly
died in prison at Kolea in the Wilaya region of Tipaza in the west of Algiers, following his arrest during a peaceful demonstration.

Describing Debazi as “one of the most active militants of the Hirak in Algeria,” the watchdog on Tuesday, called for the opening of an investigation into the “circumstances and causes of the tragic disappearance of this activist from the prison of Kolea.”

In a post on his Facebook account, LADDH vice president, Said Salhi, stressed that “the judicial authorities are required to inform public opinion on all details, circumstances and causes of this tragic disappearance”.

Salhi who disclosed that he had followed the case closely since Debazi’s arrest, urged “the judicial authorities to open an immediate judicial inquiry to determine responsibilities, reveal the truth and do justice”.

Salhi noted that Debazi, 55, was arrested on February 22, 2022, and remanded in custody in the prison of Kolea, and that a request for his release on bail because of his worrying health condition, was rejected by the authorities.

“Hakim Debazi is one of those activists who have been sentenced by the Algerian justice to prison for posts on social networks.

“Most are prosecuted for simply expressing an opinion, particularly through publications on social networks,” the League said in a statement, adding that hundreds of Algerian activists accused of undermining state security and the integrity of the territory as well as subversive acts, are currently languishing in Algerian prisons in deplorable conditions.

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Senegalese opposition condemns President Sall’s ‘slow’ election date announcement

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The opposition presidential contenders in Senegal have claimed that the government is taking too long to announce a new date for the poll, following a court ruling that declared a 10-month postponement to be illegal.

This occurs just a few days after President Macky Sall pledged to comply with the Constitutional Council’s position that the election be held as soon as feasible following the parliament’s resolution to reschedule the election—which was initially set for February 25—was overruled by the court.

The situation in one of the more stable democracies in coup-hit West Africa led to violent public protests and threats of authoritarian overreach, and Sall came under intense pressure both domestically and internationally to accept the council’s decision.

However, no new date has been announced, which has angered opposition candidates who want the election to happen before Sall’s term expires on April 2.

In a joint statement released late on Tuesday, sixteen out of the nineteen presidential candidates bemoaned the “inexplicable slowness” with which the council’s decision was implemented.

It was their contention that Sall’s tardy return to electoral duty demonstrated his reluctance to initiate a process that would result in a transfer of power. A request for response from the presidency was not answered.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Justice Minister Aïssata Tall Sall said that there was room for discussion over the expiration of Sall’s mandate on April 2.

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South Africa wants Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Palestinian territories declared illegal

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South Africa is back at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over Israel’s role in the ongoing Hamas war. On Tuesday, Johannesburg asked the World Court to issue a non-binding legal opinion that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is illegal.

South Africa argued that the proclamation would help efforts to reach a settlement as its representative opened the second day of hearings at the court in the Hague.

Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands told the judges that “a clear legal characterization of the nature of Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people can only assist in remedying the ongoing delay and achieving a just settlement.”

Palestinian delegates asked the U.N.’s top court on Monday to declare Israel’s occupation of their territory illegal, adding that the advisory opinion of the court might help bring about a durable peace and a two-state solution.

Israel sent a written statement claiming that an advisory opinion would be detrimental to reaching a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, despite not being present at the hearings.

The most recent wave of violence in Gaza, which was sparked by Hamas’s attacks on Israel on October 7, has exacerbated the region’s long-standing grievances and harmed attempts to find a peaceful solution.

The ICJ’s fifteen-member panel was tasked with “occupation, settlement and annexation … including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures.”

It is anticipated that the judges will take about half a year to respond to the request, which also asks them to evaluate the implications of the occupation’s legal standing.

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