Annual Report: Algeria 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Algeria 2010

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Head of state Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Head of government Ahmed Ouyahiya
Death penalty abolitionist in practice
Population 34.9 million
Life expectancy 72.2 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 35/31 per 1,000
Adult literacy 75.4 per cent

People suspected of terrorism-related activities were arrested and detained incommunicado; some faced unfair trials. The authorities harassed human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists, and prosecuted some for criticizing government officials. New legislation was introduced to criminalize irregular migration. The authorities again took no action to investigate thousands of cases of enforced disappearance and other grave abuses committed in the past and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Background

On 9 April, Abdelaziz Bouteflika was re-elected President after constitutional changes adopted in 2008 allowed him to stand for a third term. On 19 April, he expressed his continuing commitment to the process of “national reconciliation” initiated when he first came to power in 1999. Under the process, the government has enacted amnesty and other measures that institutionalize impunity for the massive human rights abuses committed during the internal conflict of the 1990s and effectively deny victims their rights to truth, justice and adequate reparation. During his election campaign, he proposed the introduction of an amnesty for armed groups.

Armed groups continued to mount attacks, but there were fewer indiscriminate attacks on civilians than in preceding years. Some 30 civilians were reported to have been killed in such attacks, mostly bomb explosions in public places, and some 90 members of the security forces. Dozens of alleged members of armed groups were reported to have been killed in clashes with the security forces or search operations; in most cases, the precise circumstances were unclear, prompting fears that some people may have been extrajudicially executed. Al-Qa’ida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb was believed to be the main active armed Islamist group in Algeria.

The year was also punctuated with a series of strikes, protests and riots in different areas by people protesting against unemployment, low wages, housing shortages and other problems.

In August, the government promulgated Law 09-04 and issued a presidential decree to make the Algerian National Advisory Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (CNCPPDH) more transparent and independent. In March, the Sub- Committee on Accreditation of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions had recommended not to fully accredit the CNCPPDH for failing to comply with the Paris Principles on national human rights institutions.

Counter-terror and security

The Department of Information and Security (DRS), military intelligence, continued to arrest terrorism suspects and detain them incommunicado for weeks or months, during which they were at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.