UN rights office calls out Algerian news outlet for ‘completely fabricated’ story


The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) has dismissed as “complete fabrication”, an Algerian news report claiming that a UN tribunal has rejected a complaint by a group of Algerian political activists.

An article published in French, Arabic and English by the Algérie Presse Service (APS) on Tuesday claimed that a body called “The Geneva Office of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal” had rejected a complaint by a group of political activists “24 hours after being submitted and examined by the office’s legal officers.”

“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,” OHCHR spokesman Rupert Colville said in a statement on Friday.

“No UN human rights body with this name exists,” he insisted.

The story – which quoted an interview on Radio Monte Carlo two days earlier with someone described as the tribunal’s secretary – was illustrated with a photo of a UN meeting room in Geneva.

There is indeed a UN Dispute Tribunal in Geneva, but it deals with internal administrative issues within the UN, not with human rights matters.

Colville said the OHCHR has been unable to identify any relevant UN staff member or independent human rights expert with a name that correspondents with the individual who purportedly spoke with Radio Monte Carlo.

The OHCHR has received complaints in recent weeks from Algerian citizens and activists that will be examined by relevant bodies in due course.

But, as Mr. Colville’s statement explained, no UN human rights body conducts 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.

A second problematic story “from the opposite perspective”, appeared on Thursday on the Algérie Part website.  It correctly described the APS report as false – but also included “largely invented” quotes that it attributed to a 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. (Source: UN News)