Scharf verurteilte die Menschenrechtsorganisation Amnesty International, gestern in einer Beurteilung der Gesamtsituation Algeriens, die Vorgehensweise algerischer Behörden und Sicherheitskräfte, während der laufenden Vorbereitungen auf die Präsidentschaftswahl am 17. April. Hier ein paar Auszüge, den gesamten Bericht in englischer Sprache finden Sie unten eingefügt. Vertretern internationaler Menschenrechtsorganisationen wird die Einreise nach Algerien verwehrt. Meinungs-, Versammlungs- und Vereinigungsfreiheit sieht Amnesty International bedroht. „Die Vereinsfreiheit ist nicht gewährleistet und es wird nichts dagegen unternommen“, kritisiert Amnesty. Die Strategie der algerischen Behörden ist es, jeden Versuch von Auflehnung im Keim zu ersticken. Angesichts der bevorstehenden Präsidentschaftswahlen, zeigten sie eine Intensivierung der Repressionen gegen Regimekritiker und bewiesen in ihrer Handlungsweise, dass sie keine öffentliche Kritik – auf jeder Ebene – tolerieren „, sagte Nicola Duckworth, Generaldirektor für Forschung bei Amnesty International. Es scheint eine konzentrierte Anstrengung zu geben, den Verlauf der Wahlen – durch verstärkten Zugriff auf die Meinungsfreiheit – zu steuern. Der Mangel an öffentlichen Debatten und Einschränkungen des Rechts zu kritisieren oder zu protestieren, um soziale oder politische Forderungen zum Ausdruck zu bringen, lässt an der Wahl zweifeln. Der Ausnahmezustand wurde im Jahre 2011 offiziell aufgehoben, aber die Freiheit auf Meinungsäußerung, Vereinigungs- und Versammlungsfreiheit ist nach wie vor verboten. Obwohl Algerien ein Ölförderland ist – von daher reich, sind die sozialen und wirtschaftlichen Turbulenzen durch Korruption aufgeheizt, die steigenden Lebenshaltungskosten, hohe Arbeitslosigkeit und die Immobilienkrise geht weiter. Die algerischen Behörden haben weitgehend auf diese Proteste mit Gewalt reagiert, sie belästigten und verhafteten Demonstranten und Gewerkschaftsaktivisten. Verhaftet werden alle diejenigen, die vom Pro-Bouteflika-Kurs abweichen, unter anderem auch Journalisten die nur ihre Arbeit erledigen wollen. Zitiert wird der Fall der Ehefrau eines Journalisten. Aziza Mahmoudi wurde am 27. März – nach einer Demonstration der Bürgerbewegung Barakat in Algier, von drei Personen in Zivil – offenbar verkleideten Sicherheitskräften, in ihrem Haus angegriffen. Sie bedrohten sie mit ihren Waffen und forderten, dass ihr Mann das ständig Kritisieren der Behörden – auf Facebook – unterlassen solle und verbrühten sie mit heißem Wasser, sie erlitt Verbrennungen zweiten Grades. Im vergangenen Monat führten Sicherheitskräfte eine Razzia beim Fernsehsender – Al Atlas-TV – durch, einem privaten TV-Sender, der die Behörden kritisiert hatte. Al Atlas-TV wurde gezwungen seine Aktivitäten einzustellen und am 12. März aus dem Äther verbannt. Nach den Rechtsvorschriften, haben nur die öffentlichen Medien eine Sendelizenz ohne Einschränkung, privaten Kanälen wurde nur eine temporäre Lizenzen gewährt, diese kann ohne vorherige Ankündigung jederzeit widerrufen werden. „Die Bekämpfung eines privaten Kanals, nur weil er anderer Meinungen ist, ist ein verwerflicher Angriff auf die Meinungsfreiheit“, so Nicola Duckworth. „Amnesty International“ ist seit 1991 legal in Algerien registriert, Mitgliedern wurde vor kurzem die Erlaubnis verweigert für die Organisation an der Hauptversammlung teilzunehmen. Neben dem Vorgehen gegen die Zivilgesellschaft, folgten die algerischen Behörden bisher nicht der Aufforderung – durch die Vereinten Nationen, Lücken in der bestehenden Gesetzesgebung zu füllen und somit einem Missbrauch – durch Einsetzen von Folter und andere Formen der Gewalt, entgegen zu wirken. Schutzmaßnahmen gegen Folter sind zwar heute im algerischen Recht verankert sind aber völlig unzureichend.
Original Bericht Amnesty International (veröffentlicht in der El Watan)
MEDIA BRIEFING – Index: MDE 28/004/2014
14 April 2014 – Algeria: Key human rights concerns ahead of presidential elections
The Algerian authorities should stop avoiding scrutiny of their human rights record, Amnesty International said today, as the country prepares for the fourth presidential elections since the end of the 1990s conflict.
The limits of the government’s tolerance of free expression, as well as its failure to abide by human rights obligations, have been laid bare by a recent crackdown on peaceful protesters opposing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fourth term, as well as reports that the authorities have yet to grant visas to several journalists from the international media to cover the elections, and the fact that the authorities have denied international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) access to the country for nearly a decade – including Amnesty International.
The Algerian authorities regularly ban and forcibly disperse peaceful protests and have imposed severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Such rights are prerequisites for elections, as those critical of the authorities must be able to express their views without fear of retaliation or repression. Candidates must be able to organize rallies and debate ideas and journalists must be able to report free from any interference, intimidation or reprisal on the full range of issues relevant to the public debate ahead of elections.
Although Algeria is rich in oil and gas, there is regular social unrest over poverty, the rising costs of living despite government handouts, a high rate of unemployment – especially among youth – and discontent at perceived inequality and corruption in access to housing and the country’s resources. The Algerian authorities have often responded to social and economic grievances by forcibly dispersing demonstrations and arresting and prosecuting independent trade union activists demanding both better working conditions and standards of living.
Difficult economic conditions and clashes in the southern city of Ghardaia have inflamed tensions between Mozabites, who are part of Algeria’s Amazigh population and practice the Ibadite form of Islam, and Arabs from the Mzab valley who follow the Maliki rites dominant in the Maghreb. Although tensions surface every few years, recent clashes have been unusually violent, leaving eight dead since the beginning of 2014, according to media reports, and has left the mausoleums desecrated. The security forces have been accused of failing to intervene in a timely manner to protect people, as well as of at times participating in clashes in support of one community against the other and of ill-treating those they arrest.
The lack of economic opportunities and disenchantment as to any prospect for change has lead thousands of people, referred to as „harragas“, to leave Algeria and seek a better life in Europe each year, despite a 2009 law criminalizing the „illicit“ exit from the country. Those attempting the journey are mainly youths.
Prior to its election to the UN Human Rights Council in January 2014, Algeria pledged to co-operate with regional and international human rights organizations, as well as the Council’s human rights experts. However, the Algerian authorities have not granted visas to international human rights NGOs for years, hindering independent monitoring of and reporting on the human rights situation. UN human rights experts, notably the UN Special Rapporteur on torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, have not visited the country, despite making repeated requests to the government to facilitate their visit.
Despite the lifting of the state of emergency in 2011 and promises by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to reform the justice sector, torture and other ill-treatment continues, facilitated by gaps in laws and practices that the authorities have yet to close, more than two decades after the
end of the internal armed conflict. The grim legacy of the internal conflict of the 1990s, sparked by the cancellation of the 1992 legislative elections set to be won by the Islamic Salvation Front (Front islamique du Salut), continues to weigh heavily on Algerian society. A series of amnesty decrees issued by the authorities has denied victims and their families their rights to truth and justice. The sustained failure of the Algerian authorities to address impunity for the grave human rights violations and abuses committed during the 1990s internal conflict has undermined genuine reconciliation and lasting peace.
The Algerian authorities adopted a decree in February 2014 providing for state financial compensation for women victims of rape by armed groups during the internal conflict, but have not taken sufficient measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, while
discrimination against women remains entrenched in law and in practice.The authorities have severely curtailed personal freedoms, such as the right to choose one’s religion. Dozens of people are sentenced to death every year, thus undermining the right to life.
Crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly
Algeria lifted its 21-year state of emergency in 2011 amid region-wide popular uprisings for social justice and political change, but Algerian law still requires prior authorization to hold public gatherings and assemblies. In the capital Algiers, there has been an outright ban on public protests. Peaceful demonstrations are routinely forcibly dispersed by security forces across the country and protesters are often arrested. They include youth protesting unemployment in Ouargla in oil-rich southern Algeria, as well as regular demonstrations by families demanding to know the fate of their relatives who were subjected to enforced disappearance during the 1990s. While the authorities maintain a heavy security presence in Algiers, they have not forcibly dispersed the recent protests in the capital by those who oppose the president’s bid for a fourth term, loosely gathered around the Barakat movement. The move stands in contrast with the habitual bans on demonstrations in the capital and the continuing protest ban in Algerian law. Meanwhile, Algerian civil society groups, human rights activists and journalists critical of the authorities continue to face threats and harassment from the authorities.
Peaceful protesters opposing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s candidacy saw their first gatherings in early March 2014 forcibly dispersed by security forces, with several dozen arrested.
On 1 March, medical doctor Amira Bouraoui was taken to a police station with between 25 and 30 other people, before she was released about four hours later.
On 4 March, security forces arrested her again in front of the Constitutional Council, where a group of protesters was planning to hand in a letter against the president winning a fourth term. She was forcibly pushed into a police car and taken to a police station with two journalists and two other people. The police did not give them any reason for their arrest. The group was eventually released about an hour and a half later.
On 18 March, police officers arrested journalist and leading member of the Barakat movement Meziane Abane and detained him overnight while interrogating him about his work, before transferring him to officers of the national gendarmerie, who eventually released him.
On 27 March, Aziza Mahmoudi, the wife of a journalist who was covering the Barakat movement demonstration in Algiers, was assaulted at her home. Three plain-clothed individuals, believed to be members of the security forces, threatened her at gunpoint and said her husband must stop criticising the authorities on Facebook, before scalding her with hot water, causing second-degree burns.
The media have also faced consequences for their reporting. Private television station Al-Atlas TV, which extensively covered protests and featured government critics, was shut down by security forces and forced off-air on 12 March 2014, pending investigation for broadcasting without a license. Algerian legislation currently only allows for state-controlled national television channels, with authorities tolerating private channels and granting them temporary licenses that can be revoked at any time, without legal guarantees. While general news channels remain a state monopoly, a law allowing private channels with a narrow thematic focus was adopted by Algeria’s Parliament last January and was recently promulgated.
Repression of socio-economic protests
Instead of addressing socio-economic grievances, such as poverty, high unemployment in oil and gas-rich areas of the country, allegations of corruption and perceived inequality of access to social housing, the Algerian authorities have often resorted to harassing those active in protests and strikes, as well as trade-union activists.
Throughout 2012 and 2013, both human rights activists and representatives of unemployed youth have been judicially harassed. Some were unfairly tried and sentenced to prison terms, in an attempt to quell peaceful dissent. At least five, including Abdelkader Kerba of the National Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Unemployed (Comité National pour La Défense des Droits des Chômeurs, CNDDC), were charged in 2012 with offences relating to „inciting a gathering“, reflecting the limits to freedom of assembly described above.
On 2 January 2013, Taher Belabès, a co-ordinator for the CNDDC, was arrested in the southern town of Ouargla, after police dispersed a peaceful protest calling for jobs and the resignation of local officials in charge of tackling unemployment. Taher Belabès had already been arrested over previous protests by out of work people. He was charged with offences related to „inciting a gathering“ and „obstructing the flow of traffic“. He was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment on 20 January, a sentence which he appealed.
Abdelkader Kerba, a member of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (Ligue Algérienne pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme, LADDH) and the CNDDC, was fined and received a suspended prison sentence of one year in May 2012, after a court convicted him of „direct incitement to a gathering“ for joining and filming a protest by judicial clerks. He was held in custody from 19 April to 3 May. He was again arrested, detained and prosecuted after attempting to film a demonstration against water cuts at Ksar El Boukhari, Médéa, in August 2012. Charged with insulting and committing violence against an official, he was acquitted and released on 11 September 2012.
Yassine Zaid, a human rights and trade-union activist, and three other activists who participated in a protest outside the court trying Abdelkader Kerba in April 2012, were charged with „inciting a non-armed gathering“, an offence which carries a punishment of up to one year’s imprisonment. In September 2012, the court declared it was unable to try them.
Yassine Zaid was also arrested and beaten by police in October 2012. He received a suspended six-month prison term and was fined for „violence against a state agent“. The court ignored his complaint that he had been assaulted by the police, despite medical evidence that substantiated his claim. The nervousness of the authorities was also palpable in March 2013, when the authorities prevented a delegation of 96 trade unionists and civil society activists from crossing the border into Tunisia to attend the World Social Forum, a global meeting of activists and civil society organizations. The delegation included members of the National Autonomous Union of Public Administration Personnel (Syndicat national autonome des personnels de l’administration publique, SNAPAP) and the CNDDC. They were travelling in two buses and stopped from crossing the Algerian border with Tunisia three times at different border posts, in violation of their right to freedom of movement. The border police told them that they were on a list of people banned from leaving Algeria because of „unrest“.
Despite notifying the authorities of their establishment, as required under Law 90-14 on trade-unions, some independent trade unions have not received an official receipt confirming their registration.
Restrictions on associations
Law 12-06 on associations, promulgated in 2012, further restricts Algerian civil society. The law includes wide-ranging and arbitrary restrictions on associations‘ purpose, goals and activities. It gives the government the power to refuse registration to associations deemed to threaten „national constants and values“, public order, „morality“ and Algerian law; and to suspend or dissolve those groups considered to be interfering in the internal affairs of the country or attacking „national sovereignty“.
The new law also effectively criminalizes freedom of association by subjecting members of unregistered, suspended or dissolved associations to six months‘ imprisonment and a heavy fine of up to 300,000 Algerian dinars (approximately US$3,820). Many of the provisions are ambiguous and open to abuse by the authorities; the law also places many bureaucratic, unnecessary and unlawful hurdles on those wishing to register an association. It also further tightens restrictions on foreign funding for Algerian associations. The new law entrenched the existing authorities‘ practice of denying registration to civil society groups working on issues deemed to be sensitive, such as enforced disappearances during the 1990s conflict. Many human rights and civil society groups have been left in a legal limbo, further restricting their ability to operate, hold meetings and receive funding.
In December 2013, Amnesty International urged the Algerian authorities to repeal Law 12-06, before the expiry of the registration deadline for existing associations in January. Law 12-06 gave existing associations a two-year window to renew their registration and several associations have had their registration confirmed by local authorities since the January deadline expired. However, numerous associations critical of government policy have been refused registration, including the National Anti-Corruption Association (Association nationale de lutte contre la corruption, ANLC) in Algiers.
Amnesty International’s branch in Algeria, despite submitting its new statutes in November 2013, has yet to obtain confirmation of its registration. Representatives of Amnesty International Algeria were unable to hand in their registration renewal to the Ministry of Interior, as no one was there to receive them. They sent their registration file by recorded delivery.
In addition, associations have faced difficulties obtaining authorization to hold meetings. In several provinces (wilayas), Amnesty International members were unable to hold planned activities to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March 2014, because they were not able to obtain authorization from the local authorities. Amnesty International Algeria had to hold its General Assembly in April 2014 in its own premises, as they did not receive the required authorization from the local authorities in Algiers, despite their repeated requests.
A circular issued on 16 January 2014 by the Minister of Interior instructed local authorities to refuse requests for public gatherings and meetings for 19 associations that experience „internal conflict“, including the LADDH, the General Union of Algerian Students, the National Union of Algerian Students, the National Organization for Victims of Terrorism and their dependants.
Abuses in the name of security
The Department for Information and Security (Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité, DRS), a branch of the intelligence services, continues to detain people suspected of having links with terrorism, or knowledge of terrorist activities, and to hold them without access to the outside world, a practice which facilitates torture and enforced disappearance.
The DRS continues to hold such people in unrecognized places of detention, such as military barracks, outside the oversight of the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecution. For example, several Algerian nationals recently returned from the military base of Guantánamo Bay to Algeria by the US authorities were held without contact with the outside world for periods ranging from five to 10 days in unrecognized places of detention, before being brought before a judge. Such incommunicado detentions persist, amid reports of infighting among top decision-makers over the role of the DRS, and changes introduced in September 2013 that abolished the central office of the DRS judicial police. However, provisions in Algerian law allowing DRS personnel to exercise the role of judicial police, a function mainly exercised by police and gendarmerie, are still in place.
Concerns over the security threats facing the country, as well as the conduct of the Algerian security forces, were illustrated in January 2013, when an armed Islamist group took dozens of hostages in the gas complex of In Aménas. After the security forces intervened, 40 hostages and 29 hostage-takers were reported to have been killed over several days. Despite concerns that the security forces may have been responsible for some of the deaths, expressed in both international and Algerian media, no independent and impartial investigation has taken place. Instead, Algeria and Western countries such as the USA, France and the UK seem to have strengthened their security co-operation and brushed off human rights concerns. For example, during his visit to Algeria early April, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the USA was looking to increase security assistance to Algeria, to ensure that the „Algerian security services have the tools and the training needed in order to defeat al-Qaida and other terrorist groups“(1). A „Strategic Security Partnership“ was agreed between Algeria and the UK following the UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Algiers in January 2013 (2). Torture and other ill-treatment continue to be reported, facilitated by gaps in laws and practices that the authorities have yet to close, despite repeated recommendations by UN bodies. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, despite repeated requests, has been denied access to Algeria.
The authorities have maintained emergency-style law in ordinary law, enshrined in the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. Under the framework of the state of emergency proclaimed in 1992, the authorities adopted specific emergency laws that were mostly incorporated into the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure in 1995. For instance, these laws extended the period of pre-arraignment detention (garde à vue), to reach up to 12 days in cases linked to alleged terrorist activity, during which detainees are not allowed access to their lawyers. The impact of the lifting of the state of emergency in 2011 remains limited.
Limited safeguards against torture in Algerian law, such as the right of detainees to communicate immediately with their families, to receive visits from them and to be examined by a doctor of their choice at the end of the period of garde à vue, are usually ignored in practice by the security forces, generating a pattern of secret and unacknowledged detention.
Algeria has a track record of impunity for human rights violations by state agents. To Amnesty International’s knowledge, allegations of torture have seldom led to prosecutions or convictions of the alleged perpetrators, despite welcome amendments introduced in the Penal Code in 2004 that criminalized torture and extended liability to any public official that uses, incites or orders the use of torture, as well as to those who are complicit in its use. Complaints by criminal suspects of torture and other ill-treatment are routinely ignored, preventing investigations from being ordered.
Comprehensive reforms to end violence against women long overdue
In spite of trumpeted achievements in the field of women’s rights and the introduction of quotas for women’s parliamentary participation (147 women were elected out of 462 seats in the May 2012 elections after the introduction of a quota system to enhance women’s political participation), Algerian women continue to face deeply rooted discrimination in law and practice.
On 1 February 2014, the Algerian authorities adopted Decree 14-26, providing for state financial compensation for women victims of rape by armed groups during the 1990s internal conflict. This welcome, albeit long overdue, measure has been a key demand of women’s rights groups in Algeria, as well as Amnesty International and UN experts, as a step towards ensuring that women victims of sexual violence during the 1990s internal conflict obtain effective remedies.
Much remains to be done to ensure that women and girls are protected from violence in Algeria. There is a lack of recent official data on reported cases of gender-based violence against women, but studies by support centres for women, such as the Balsam network, show that violence against women is rife. Over 60 per cent of the women who complained of violence to support centres in recent years are married, according to the Balsam network (3).
Reforms are needed to address shortcomings in law that fail to adequately protect women from sexual violence. Algeria still lacks a law to effectively criminalize violence against women. The Penal Code makes rape a crime, but does not define rape. Other forms of sexual violence are dealt with under the Penal Code as „indecent assaults“, reflecting a focus on morality rather than the integrity of the victim’s body. The Penal Code does not have specific provisions for domestic violence, nor does it make marital rape a crime.
In 2010, women working and living on their own in the oil-rich town of Hassi Messaoud were targeted in a spate of attacks by groups of unidentified young men at night time. The groups physically assaulted the women they caught, including with knives, and robbed them of their phones and jewellery. The attackers also sexually abused some of the women and called them „prostitutes“. To date, the Algerian authorities have provided no information about whether any of the perpetrators have faced prosecution. The attacks in 2010 mirror similar violence in the same town in 2001, during which women were raped, stabbed and burned. Only one man was prosecuted for rape after the 2001 attack; 20 others were reportedly sentenced in their absence to 20 years‘ imprisonment.
Provisions in law also penalize consensual sexual relations between adults, making adultery a crime, as well as „homosexuality“.
In addition, discriminatory provisions in Algerian law also present further barriers to the protection of survivors of sexual violence. A provision in the Penal Code allows a rapist to escape prosecution by marrying the victim, if she is under 18.
Algeria’s Family Code, although markedly improved through amendments in 2005, still discriminates against women in relation to marriage, divorce, child custody and guardianship, and inheritance. A woman needs a matrimonial guardian to marry, who can be her father or a male relative, or any other person of her choice, but men face no such requirement. The Family Code maintains the right of a man to marry more than one woman, despite imposing restrictions on polygamy.
A husband can freely divorce his wife without justification, but a wife must meet specific conditions in order to initiate a divorce. A woman has to disclose the reasons for her divorce, in violation of her rights to privacy as well as dignity. The grounds for divorce include non-payment of maintenance, „defects“ which prevent the realisation of marriage, the refusal of the husband to share the matrimonial bed for more than four months, and the absence of the husband for more than one year without proper justification. A woman may obtain a divorce without the consent of her husband by paying a financial compensation (khol’a), which the judge can estimate on the basis of her estimated dowry at the time of judgement. Men are not obliged to pay financial reparation in cases where they request a divorce.
The Family Code provides that, in the case of divorce, custody of children would fall in order of priority to the mother. If the mother remarries, she loses the custody of her children, whereas divorced men with custody of their children do not lose this right if remarrying. In case of divorce, if the wife has been granted custody of her children, she is to be maintained in the marital home until the execution of any judicial decision dealing with housing. However, under the Family Code, women do not have any right to the matrimonial home if their marriage did not result in children, leaving women already stigmatized for not having children vulnerable to homelessness and violence.
Women are also discriminated against in matters of inheritance: they are entitled to just half of what men receive.
A legacy of impunity
According to official figures, up to 200,000 people were killed during the 1990s internal conflict in Algeria. Security forces and state-armed militias were responsible for gross human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, secret and arbitrary detentions as well as torture and other ill-treatment and rape. Armed groups committed gross human rights abuses and were responsible for the killing of civilians, including massacres, torture, abductions and rape. Amnesty International considers that the unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture and rape to which civilians were subjected during the internal conflict amounted to crimes against humanity.
Instead of investigating these crimes and bringing those responsible to justice, the Algerian government, under President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, introduced a series of measures that entrenched impunity in the name of „national peace and reconciliation“. Ordinance No. 06-01 of February 2006, which implements the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation approved by referendum in September 2005, granted immunity from prosecution to security forces and state-armed militia who had committed serious human rights violations during the 1990s internal conflict. The law also threatened with imprisonment any individual criticizing the conduct of security forces, thus having a chilling effect on freedom of expression and the right to truth. Members of armed groups benefitted from a set of amnesty measures in 1999-2000, with Presidential Decree 2000-03, announced on 10 January 2000, granting amnesty and blanket immunity from judicial prosecution without any exclusion clauses to „persons who belonged to organizations which decided voluntarily and spontaneously to put an end to acts of violence“ and surrendered themselves to the authorities. These amnesty measures prevented investigations into human rights abuses and deprived the victims and their families of their right to obtain truth, justice and reparations.
Amnesty International has long been calling on the Algerian authorities to take concrete steps to combat impunity and to ensure the non-repetition of serious human rights violations and abuses.
Provisions criminalizing public criticism of the conduct of the security forces must also be repealed. Detailed information on the implementation of reconciliation measures adopted since 1999 should be published immediately and include the number of members of armed groups who benefited from these measures. The Algerian authorities must clarify the fate of the disappeared and provide their families with effective remedy. Full, impartial and independent investigations into cases of enforced disappearances must be conducted, as required by international human rights treaties to which Algeria is a state party. Amnesty International further calls on the Algerian authorities to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance without further delay. Signed by Algeria in 2007, the Convention has yet to be ratified.
Impunity prevails also for the repression of protesters in 2001, in the Berber-dominated region of Kabylia, in north-eastern Algeria, during which more than 80 unarmed people were killed and hundreds injured.
Despite Algeria having ratified the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, irregular or undocumented migrants remain vulnerable to violence and expulsion. In January 2014, a woman migrant from Cameroon was reportedly raped in Oran. After lodging a complaint with the police, she was herself detained for staying illegally in Algeria and faced expulsion. Several such assaults against women migrants have been previously reported.
No official statistics are available concerning the number of foreign nationals expelled from Algeria, but in its report to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers in June 2008, the government said that an average of 7,000 foreign nationals were turned back at the borders or expelled from Algeria annually. Many such expulsions are believed to be carried out without due process and without adequate safeguards.
In 2009, a law was introduced to make „illicit“ exit from Algeria through the use of forged documents, or travelling via locations other than official border exit ports a crime, a move which has restricted freedom of movement and criminalized migration. Such „illicit“ exit is punishable by prison terms of between two and six months and/or fines. Despite the law, thousands of Algerians (known as „harragas“) and foreign nationals continue to seek to reach Europe from Algeria, in extremely precarious conditions.
Freedom of religion
The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion but makes Islam the state religion. However, under Ordinance 06-03 regulating religious faiths other than Islam, a law passed in 2006, Christians, including converts, have faced judicial proceedings for „practicing religious rites without authorization“.
In August 2010, Mahmoud Yahou, who had established a Protestant church earlier in the year in the province of Tizi Ouzou in Kabylia, was tried with three other Christian converts in the town of Al-Arba’a Nath Irathen. They were accused of breaching Ordinance 06-03. The church was not registered, apparently as a result of the authorities‘ refusal to establish any new Protestant churches. The four men were sentenced to suspended prison terms and fined.
In 2010, individuals were also prosecuted for eating during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, under Article 144 bis 2 of the Penal Code. In October that year, two Christian converts, Hocine Hocini and Salem Fellak, were acquitted of charges relating to eating during daylight hours in Ramadan.
In May 2011, Abdelkarim Siaghi, a Christian convert, was sentenced to five years‘ imprisonment and a heavy fine for „offending the Prophet Mohamed“ in Oran. He appealed the sentence and still awaits a final judgement.
Although Amnesty International has not documented recent cases of arrests, provisions in the law remain. In August 2013, hundreds gathered in Tizi Ouzou to eat and drink during Ramadan, declaring it was a protest to defend freedom of conscience. Although they were able to hold their protest, the High Islamic Council and the Minister of religious affairs condemned the protest lunch, and hundreds of others organized a counter-demonstration on the same day.
The right to life
Despite a de facto moratorium in Algeria since 1993, when the last execution took place, courts continued to hand down death sentences, mostly against people tried in their absence for terrorism-related offences. At least 153 death sentences were reported in 2012 and at least 40 in 2013.
Despite their continuous support for a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty, the authorities expanded the scope of the death penalty in December 2013, extending it to anyone who abducts and kills a child.