The authorities continued to restrict freedoms of expression, association and assembly, dispersing demonstrations and harassing human rights defenders. Women faced discrimination in law and practice. Perpetrators of gross human rights abuses during the 1990s, and torture and other ill-treatment against detainees in subsequent years, continued to benefit from impunity. Armed groups carried out lethal attacks. At least 153 death sentences were reported; there were no executions.
The year saw protests and demonstrations by trade unionists and others against unemployment, poverty and corruption. These were dispersed by the security forces, which also thwarted planned demonstrations by blocking access or arresting protesters.
Algeria’s human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in May. The government failed to address recommendations to abolish laws originating under the state of emergency, in force from 1992 until 2011, to ease restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly, and to recognize the right to truth of families of victims of enforced disappearances during the 1990s.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visited Algeria in September, and discussed with the authorities a long-requested visit by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.Top of page
New laws on information and associations adopted in December 2011 restricted media reporting of issues relevant to state security, national sovereignty and Algeria’s economic interests, and tightened controls on NGOs, empowering the authorities to suspend or dissolve them and deny them registration or funding. Journalists faced prosecution for defamation under the Penal Code.
Despite lifting the state of emergency in 2011, the authorities continued to prohibit demonstrations in Algiers under a 2001 decree. There and elsewhere, security forces either prevented demonstrations by blocking access and making arrests or dispersed them through actual or threatened force.
The authorities continued to harass human rights defenders, including through the courts.
Armed groups, including Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), carried out bombing and other attacks, mostly against military targets. The authorities reported killings of members of armed groups by the security forces but disclosed few details, prompting fears that some may have been extrajudicially executed. At least four civilians were reportedly killed by bombs or security forces’ gunfire. The Department of Information and Security (DRS) retained wide powers of arrest and detention, including incommunicado detention of terrorism suspects, facilitating torture and other ill-treatment.
The authorities took no steps to investigate thousands of enforced disappearances and other human rights abuses committed during the internal conflict of the 1990s. The Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation (Law 06-01), in force since 2006, gave immunity to the security forces and criminalized public criticism of their conduct. Families of those forcibly disappeared were required to accept death certificates in order to receive compensation but were denied information about the fate of their disappeared relatives. Those who continued to call for truth and justice faced harassment.
Women continued to face discrimination in law and practice. However, following legislation in 2011 to increase women’s representation in parliament, women won almost a third of the seats in national elections in May.
In March, the CEDAW Committee urged the government to reform the Family Code to give women equal rights with men in relation to marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance. The Committee also urged the government to withdraw Algeria’s reservations to CEDAW, ratify the Optional Protocol to CEDAW, enact laws to protect women against domestic and other violence, and address gender inequality in education and employment.Top of page
The courts handed down at least 153 death sentences, mostly to defendants who were sentenced in their absence after they were convicted on terrorism charges. There were no executions; the authorities maintained a de facto moratorium on executions in place since 1993.