UN Experts Raise Concern About Algeria’s Church Closures

On 2 December 2020, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful and assembly and association and the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, sent a letter to the government of Algeria about the church closures.

The UN experts referred to an earlier submitted communications from October 2018 regarding church closures, which the government never responded to.

Algeria has not granted any official permit to the EPA (Eglise Protestante d’Algerie, the national association of Protestant Churches) of Algeria since the new Ordinance 06-03 was ratified, a law which regulates non-Muslim groups religious practice and has made it illegal produce or distribute any information that might “shake the faith” of a Muslim, Article 11(2). Due to the broadness of the wording of these laws Algerian authorities have used them to harass, interrogate and arrest Christians, ex-Muslims and other non-Muslims, and Ahmadi Muslims and secular Muslims

The UN experts asked the government of Algeria for detailed information regarding the legality of the church closures. They raised four points that are paraphrased below:

  1. Please provide us with any additional information or comments in relation to allegations of the church closures.
  2. Please explain in detail the factual and legal grounds that justified the closure of the 13 places of worship and churches affiliated to the Protestant Church of Algeria.
  3. Please provide detailed information on the procedures for registering religious associations and their places of worship. In particular, please provide information on the re-registration procedure of the Protestant Church of Algeria, and explain why this has still not been finalized.
  4. Please provide details of the measures taken by the Government of Algeria to ensure the protection and promotion of the rights to freedom of religion or belief, expression, peaceful assembly and association of all religious minorities, including Protestant Christians and their clergy, as well as the measures taken to investigate any violations committed against them and to identify and punish any responsible person.

Read the full communication here in French

NOTE: In January 2021, the government of Algeria responded to the communication but as of 2 February 2021 the response is still being translated by the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.

Photos courtesy of: Middle East Concern, OHCHR.