Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has lauded the judiciary’s efforts in combating crime and corruption, at a time when the Supreme Court is handling numerous appeals against heavy prison sentences levied on many former high-ranking officials of the regime. These officials, from the era of late President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (1999-2019), face charges of corruption, mismanagement, and embezzlement of public funds.
During the inauguration of the new judicial year (2023–2024) on Monday, President Tebboune urged the judiciary to “fully play its role, firmly commit to respecting judicial protocols, and counter all attempts that tarnish the credibility of justice.” He stressed that “the state appreciates the efforts judges make in protecting rights, combating crime, and fighting corruption” and exhorted them to “diligently and faithfully undertake their responsibilities.”
The ceremony, marking the beginning of the judicial year, was attended by government officials, the army’s chief of staff, Lieutenant General Saïd Chengriha, and prominent judicial authorities. According to the constitution, the President is regarded as “the primary judge of the country.”
President Tebboune addressed, indirectly, public dissatisfaction with the lengthy duration of judicial proceedings, from the lower courts to the appeals and up to the Supreme Court—the final stage of litigation.
He noted, “Trials that drag on for years create dissatisfaction among citizens and prolong their suffering in reclaiming their rights.” To mitigate these delays, President Tebboune promised “further efforts to increase the pace of case resolutions, complete the digital transformation project, leverage electronic litigation tools, and simplify and make judicial procedures more flexible.”
Since the departure of President Bouteflika from power amid popular pressure (April 2, 2019), the judicial authorities have been dealing with hundreds of corruption cases, implicating numerous civil officials, including 3 former prime ministers, intelligence chiefs, gendarmerie heads, and the police director. Most have been sentenced to severe prison terms and have filed appeals currently pending in the Supreme Court for confirmation or annulment.
The judiciary has faced intense criticism since the outbreak of the Hirak protest movement, especially for the pursuit and imprisonment of over 300 activists on charges considered by human rights advocates to be political. However, President Tebboune has repeatedly defended the judges, asserting that “there are no prisoners of opinion in our country.”
Additionally, in his speech, President Tebboune appealed to “the free peoples of the world, Arabs, and international bodies, to initiate legal action before the International Criminal Court and international human rights organizations against the Zionist entity’s violations against the Palestinian people.”
He emphasized that such a step would end the decades-long impunity of the Zionist occupation and serve as a refuge for the Palestinian brethren to reclaim their right to establish an independent state. Tebboune also condemned the world’s silence on the daily massacres against the besieged Palestinian people, a situation he described as contravening international humanitarian law and amounting to genocide against an occupied nation.