ALGERIA: IRF Roundtable Members Call on Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission Chairs to Advocate for the Release of Algerian Christian Hamid Soudad

WASHINGTON, D.C., 19 October 2021 – As USCIRF releases its latest country update on Algeria, Jubilee Campaign together with 18 other human rights organizations call on the co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to work for the release of the Algerian religious prisoner of  conscience Hamid Soudad and the religious freedom and human rights situation in Algeria in general.  

In January 2021 authorities both arrested and sentenced Mr. Soudad within two days of each other, to five years in prison for sharing a Facebook post from 2018, depicting Muhammed pushing a pram carrying his wife Aisha. The letter notes that the delay of over two years to raise charges against Mr. Soudad for the alleged harm incurred and the disproportional five-year prison sentence all point to the arbitrary nature of the arrest and the authorities’ clear persecution of Mr. Soudad solely on the grounds of his religious conversion and membership in the Protestant Church of Algeria, as reflected in the court judgement.

The letter also cites the wider religious freedom issues and human rights concerns in Algeria. Most notably the arbitrary arrest of Algerian Christian convert and political activist, Slimane Bouhafs – a UNHCR recognized refugee in Tunisia who in August 2021 became a victim of enforced disappearance and cross-border abduction into Algeria. The Algerian authorities are now charging him with terrorism-related charges for his activism and for alleged blasphemy. In light of the Algerian governments’ increased arrests and detentions of individuals on the grounds of their religion or belief, often via blasphemy charges, their closure of houses of worship; and the Algerian governors’ disregard for court rulings that favor minorities, the letter urges the co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to call on the State Department to designate Algeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC). The letter references H. Res 512 in favor of this appeal, which concludes that countries that apply blasphemy laws should be designated as a CPC.

Jubilee Campaign is a non-profit organization which promotes the human rights and religious liberty of ethnic and faith minorities in the most oppressive countries. We assist individuals seeking asylum from religious persecution as well as promote the care and well-being of larger groups of refugees fleeing persecution.

Recent Jubilee Campaign related activities on Algeria:

  • 29 September 2021: Joint oral intervention presented at the Human Rights Council on the deteriorating situation of human rights in Algeria by Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  • 3 September 2021: Jubilee Campaign press release regarding the enforced disappearance of Slimane Bouhafs released.
  • 22 August 2021: Jubilee Campaign submission to the UN Human Rights Council 48th Session Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention raising the case of Hamid Soudad.
  • 13 August 2021: Jubilee Campaign sign-on letter to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression is submitted, which appeals to the Special Rapporteur to urge Algerian authorities to drop all charges against Soudad and release him immediately and unconditionally.
  • June 2021: Jubilee Campaign submits a rejoinder to “Response of the Government of Algeria to allegations concerning the closure of Protestant churches and places of worship” following a UN Special procedures communication.