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UN Human Rights Office Highlights Fabricated Information In Relation To Algeria

An article published in French, Arabic and English by the Algérie Presse Service (APS) on Tuesday 1 September claimed that a body called “The Geneva Office of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal” (‘le Bureau des Contentieux de l’ONU à Genève’) had rejected a complaint by a group of Algerian political activists “24 hours after being submitted and examined by the office's legal officers.”

The article listed reasons why the complaint had been summarily dismissed, and quoted an interview it said had been broadcast two days earlier on Radio Monte Carlo by an individual purportedly called Issam Al Muhammadi whom APS described as the Secretary of the tribunal. The Algerian news agency article contained a large photograph of a UN meeting room in Geneva, complete with UN logo, apparently aiming to lend credibility to the story.

UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Rupert Colville on Friday made it clear the article was incorrect.

“The information contained in the article – which has been widely picked up by other media in Algeria and elsewhere -- is a complete fabrication from start to finish,” he said. “No UN human rights body with this name exists* and we have been unable to identify any relevant UN staff member or independent UN human rights expert named Issam Al Muhammadi.”

While there are a number of human right bodies that do receive and examine complaints of this type, none of them conduct an expedited 24-hour procedure.

“We request that the Algérie Presse Service and Radio Monte Carlo – if indeed it was the original source of the story – withdraw this false information and make it clear to their readers and listeners that the story was a total fabrication,” Colville said.

On Thursday, a second problematic story – from the opposite perspective – was published by an online media site called Algérie Part. This article correctly identified the APS article as false, but included lengthy quotes from an interview it claimed it had conducted with another UN Human Rights Office spokesperson. While the spokesperson had spoken briefly to a number of journalists, the quotes ascribed to her by Algérie Part are largely invented.

The UN Human Rights Office confirmed that Algerian citizens and activists have made complaints in recent weeks, and that the relevant human rights bodies would examine them in due course.

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