ARTICLE 19 condemns the ongoing detention of the scholar Raouf Farrah, and call for his release and for all the charges against him to be dropped with immediate effect. We urge the Algerian authorities to respect and uphold Farrah’s human rights as guaranteed under the Algerian Constitution and international human rights standards, including granting him access to medical care following recent knee surgery.
On 14 February, 2023, the Annaba gendarmerie brigade arrested Canadian-Algerian national Raouf Farrah, and his father, Sebti Farrah, at their home in Annaba, and placed them in custody. Raouf Farrah is a geopolitics researcher and the main contributor to the recently-published book Algeria: The Future in Play. Their arrest followed a judicial investigation initially launched against activist Amira Bouraoui and then extended to journalist Mustapha Bendjama.
According to information provided by his lawyer, on 18 February, 2023, Raouf Farrah and his father were transferred to Boussouf prison in Constantine. Authorities denied the pair were being held as part of investigations into the Bouraoui-Bendjama case. The next day, they appeared before the public prosecutor for the Specialised Criminal Judicial Pole in Constantine, alongside journalist Mustapha Benjama and other defendants. The same day, the Farrahs were brought before the investigating judge for the same judicial pole to answer their charges.
On 13 April, 2023, after 61 days of detention at Boussouf prison in Constantine, Sebti Farrah, Raouf Farrah’s father, was released for medical reasons. On 26 June, 2023, following a detailed hearing of Raouf Farrah’s case before the investigating judge of the Specialised Judicial Pole in Constantine, a third request for provisional release was filed, citing the urgency of his health condition. His continued detention hinders the necessary post-operative care following a surgical operation on his left knee, thus aggravating his condition.
Raouf is accused of publishing ‘information and documents on an electronic network or other technological media, the content of which is classified as partially or fully secret’, according to the provisions of Article 38 of the law for the protection of data and administrative documents, as well as ‘receiving funds from foreign or domestic institutions with the intention of committing acts that could affect public order’ according to the provisions of Article 95 Bis of the Penal Code.
ARTICLE 19 reminds the Algerian authorities that Raouf Farrah’s freedom of expression and opinion, and right to communicate them to the public are protected according to the provisions of Article 75, which provides guarantees for ‘academic freedoms and freedom of scientific research’.
We call for the immediate release of Raouf Farrah. His health is at risk, and his right to appropriate medical care, in accordance with international standards, must be respected. Furthermore, as an academic, Farrah must be free to exercise his academic freedoms and opinions. Algeria must honour its international human rights commitments and put an end to this unjust detention.
A campaign launched online by the family, friends, and colleagues of Raouf Farrah in Algeria and Canada seeks the release of the university researcher. These calls are echoed by Canadian newspapers and among Canadian universities where Farrah has studied and taught.