Geneva, Switzerland

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) condemns the prison sentence delivered by a court in Constantine, Algeria, today in relation to our esteemed colleague, Raouf Farrah and the conviction of his father, Sebti. The charges levelled against Raouf, including funding subversive activity and publishing secret material, as well as those against Sebti, who was charged with having assisted in the transmission of funds for subversive purposes, have been resoundingly proven to be without merit during a hearing on 22 August.

‘Although we were being realistic about the potential trial outcomes, today’s result is particularly difficult to accept, given that the prosecution failed to present any legal case against Raouf and Sebti,’ said GI-TOC Director Mark Shaw.

‘Any free and fair trial would have found Raouf and Sebti, as well as the other co-defendants, innocent. Instead, we are facing a scenario where Raouf faces more jail time on top of the almost six months in custody that he has already unjustly served, while his 67-year-old father, a respectable law-abiding citizen, now has a criminal record.”

Raouf was imprisoned on 20 February 2023 along with his father after being charged in court in the context of the case of Amira Bouraoui, an activist and journalist wanted by the Algerian authorities, who had fled to France earlier in the month.

Raouf was charged with ‘spreading information and documents that are classified as secret’ and the crime of ‘receiving funds for the purpose of committing acts that would disturb the public peace’. His father was charged with ‘receiving funds for the purpose of committing acts that would disturb the public peace’.

After a period of imprisonment, the Algerian authorities granted bail to Sebti on 13 April, a development that was confirmed in a court hearing on 4 May. Raouf meanwhile has remained in detention and the latest bail request was denied on 24 July by a court in Constantine.

Raouf’s commitment to transparent and open research is a cornerstone of his professional character. His work has consistently been made available in the public domain, benefiting researchers, the media, civil society and governments alike. We emphasise that his analytical work has been shared with various stakeholders, including the Algerian authorities, providing valuable insights that contribute to informed decision-making.

The charges brought against Raouf not only lack a credible foundation, but also cast a shadow on the principles of freedom and free expression that are vital for the advancement of knowledge and global understanding. The GI-TOC vehemently opposes any attempts to suppress legitimate research or infringe upon the rights of scholars to engage in constructive dialogue.

We call upon the Algerian authorities to review Raouf and Sebti’s cases with impartiality and adhere to the principles of justice. We urge them to recognize Raouf’s valuable contributions to research and uphold his right to a fair and transparent legal process in an expedited appeal.

The GI-TOC remains steadfast in its support for Raouf and Sebti, and expresses solidarity with them during this challenging time. We believe in the power of knowledge to bridge gaps and foster cooperation, and we will continue to advocate for the protection of freedom and the right to conduct research without fear of reprisal.

Click here to access the #FreeRaoufFarrah campaign