Annual Report: Algeria 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Algeria 2011

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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.

Freedom of religion

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.

  • A Protestant church in Tizi Ouzou was pillaged in January; the authorities failed to investigate.
  • In August, the trial began in the town of Al-Arba'a Nath Irathen of Mahmoud Yahou, who had established a Protestant church earlier in the year in Tizi Ouzou province, and three other converts to Christianity. 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. In December, the four men were sentenced to suspended prison terms and fined.

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.

  • On 5 October, a court in Ain El-Hammam cleared two Christian converts, Hocine Hocini and Salem Fellak, of all charges. They were prosecuted for eating during daylight hours in Ramadan.

Death penalty

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.

Migrants' rights

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.