Responding to the news that the Spanish authorities are planning to deport Mohamed Benhlima, an Algerian asylum-seeker, whistleblower and anti-corruption activist, Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
“The Spanish authorities are deeply aware of the grim fate that awaits Mohamed Benhlima if they deport him. Over the last two years, the Algerian authorities have stepped up their brazen prosecution of activists as they seek to crush all forms of dissent.
“The international community has a moral responsibility to stand up for those who expose human rights violations and raise their voice against corruption. Spain must immediately quash its plans to deport Mohamed Benhlima and respect the principle of non-refoulement.
“Under international law, nobody should be returned to a country where they would be in danger of suffering torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Deporting Mohamed Benhlima would represent a serious violation of Spain’s obligations under international human rights law.”
Mohamed Benhlima is an Algerian citizen and a former military official turned whistleblower who exposed corruption among Algeria’s high-ranking military officials in 2019.
He fled to Spain in September 2019 after being informed that his name was on a list of wanted military officials after he participated in the Hirak protest movement. He has since sought asylum in both Spain and France.
The international community has a moral responsibility to stand up for those who expose human rights violations and raise their voice against corruption.Amna Guellali, Amnesty International
On 7 January 2021, he was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison for sharing videos online that exposed corruption within the military.
Amnesty International has documented the use of torture and other ill-treatment by Algerian security forces in at least four cases of activists arrested over the past three years for their participation in the Hirak.
In a similar case, Spanish authorities extradited on 20 August 2021 former military official and asylum-seeker Mohmed Abdellah, who had sought refuge in Spain in November 2018 after he had publicly accused the Algerian military of corruption. Upon his extradition to Algeria, Mohmed Abdellah was taken directly to the “Antar” high security centre in Algiers. He remains in detention to date. During a court hearing on 2 January 2022, he publicly stated that he was subject to torture and ill-treatment in detention.