UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Peaceful Assembly and Association [official profile] Maina Kiai said [press release] on Friday that Algeria [BBC backgrounder] should use its upcoming legislative elections to address concerns about inadequate freedoms of expression and association. Kiai expressed concern over a law, which passed in January [ICNL report] to give the government broad power in registering groups as associations and bans associations from receiving foreign funds from any governments besides "duly established cooperative relations." It also bans associations from having goals that go against "national values." Kiai said the law is oppressive because it is vague and does not meet international standards for freedom of association. He called on those running in the country's legislative elections to commit to changing the law so that it meets the UN's standards. Algeria's elections will take place on May 10.
Algeria also passed a controversial media law [JURIST report] in December, which prevents journalists from undermining the Algerian government and its policies and security. This law was also criticized for being too vague and capable of restricting freedom of expression. Last year, a UN rights expert called on Algeria to guarantee freedoms [JURIST report] of opinion and expression to its people. This came a week after Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika promised to reform [JURIST report] the country's constitution and change its election laws to appease political protesters. The government lifted its 19-year state of emergency [JURIST report] the month before amid protests.