Human rights defenders and others were banned from holding some meetings and demonstrations. People suspected of security-related offences were arrested and detained incommunicado. Women victims of gender-based violence were not provided with redress. Foreign nationals were arrested and expelled without recourse to appeal. Christians were prosecuted for practising their faith without permission, and others faced trial for offending Islamic tenets. No executions were carried out, but over 130 people were sentenced to death. The authorities failed to take any steps to combat impunity for enforced disappearances and other serious past human rights abuses.
The government maintained the state of emergency in force since 1992.
At least 45 civilians and some 100 members of the military and security forces were killed in continuing political violence, mainly in bomb attacks by armed groups, particularly Al-Qa’ida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb. Over 200 alleged members of Islamist armed groups were reported to have been killed by security forces in skirmishes or search operations, often in unclear circumstances, prompting fears that some may have been extrajudicially executed.
Strikes, riots and demonstrations by people demanding jobs, housing and better salaries punctuated the year. Some protesters were arrested and prosecuted.
The government said it had invited seven UN Special Rapporteurs to visit Algeria but it did not extend invitations to the Special Rapporteur on torture or the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, despite their long-pending requests to carry out investigative visits.Top of page
The authorities banned some meetings and demonstrations by human rights defenders, journalists and families of victims of enforced disappearance.
Journalists and human rights defenders faced defamation or other criminal charges apparently for criticizing state officials or institutions, or alleging corruption.
Officers of the Department of Information and Security (DRS), military intelligence, continued to arrest security suspects and detain them incommunicado, in some cases for more than the 12 days permitted by law, at unrecognized detention centres where they were at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Impunity for torturing or otherwise abusing security suspects remained entrenched.
Suspects in terrorism-related cases faced unfair trials. Some were convicted on the basis of “confessions” that they alleged were extracted under torture or other duress, including some who were sentenced to death by military courts. Some were denied access to lawyers of their choice. Other security suspects were detained without trial.
In November, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women visited Algeria. Despite efforts to implement a national strategy to combat violence against women, the authorities had yet to criminalize domestic violence, including marital rape, and individuals responsible for gender-based violence were not brought to justice.
No steps were taken to investigate the thousands of enforced disappearances and other serious abuses that took place during the internal conflict in the 1990s. The authorities continued to implement the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation (Law 06-01), which gave impunity to the security forces, criminalized public criticism of their conduct and amnestied members of armed groups responsible for gross human rights abuses. In October, a senior official claimed that 7,500 “repented terrorists” had been granted amnesties since 2005. He also said that 6,240 families of people who had disappeared had accepted financial compensation, and that only 12 families “manipulated by NGOs and foreign bodies” were refusing compensation. Under Law 06-01, relatives can seek compensation if they obtain a death certificate from the authorities for the person who disappeared.
Families of the disappeared continued to hold protests in several cities, including Algiers, Constantine and Jijel. The head of the CNCPPDH declared in August that demands by families for truth and justice were unrealistic due to the absence of testimonies and the impossibility of identifying perpetrators.
In July, the UN Human Rights Committee said that the authorities should investigate the disappearance of Douia Benaziza, who was arrested by security forces in June 1996, and provide her family with an adequate remedy. The Committee found that the authorities had breached her right to liberty and security of person, and her right not to be tortured or ill-treated.Top of page
Amid a continuing crackdown on Protestant churches, Christians, including converts, faced judicial proceedings for “practising religious rites without authorization” under Ordinance 06-03 regulating religious faiths other than Islam. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion but makes Islam the state religion.
Individuals were prosecuted for breaking fast during the holy month of Ramadan under Article 144 bis 2 of the Penal Code. Courts were not consistent in their sentencing, in some cases dropping the charge and in others imposing prison terms and fines.
Algeria co-sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, and maintained a de facto moratorium on executions that has been in force since 1993. Nonetheless, more than 130 people were sentenced to death, many in their absence, mostly for terrorism-related offences.Top of page
Thousands of Algerians and sub-Saharan Africans continued to attempt to migrate to Europe from Algeria, undeterred by amendments to the Penal Code introduced in 2009 that criminalized “irregular exit” from Algeria. Some perished in the desert or at sea; some were intercepted by border control authorities.
According to police statistics, 34 foreign nationals were expelled while 5,232 were deported from Algeria between January and June. Law 08-11, which regulates the entry, stay and movement of foreigners in Algeria, allows provincial governors to order deportations of individuals who have entered or remain in Algerian territory “illegally”, without guaranteeing their right to appeal.
In May, the UN Committee on Migrant Workers expressed concern that Algerian legislation allows for the indefinite detention of irregular migrants and that the authorities had failed to investigate reports of collective expulsions.Top of page