Annual Report: Algeria 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Algeria 2013

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People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria

Head of state Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Head of government Abdelmalek Sellal (replaced Ahmed Ouyahia in September)

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.

Background

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.

Freedoms of expression and association

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.

  • Manseur Si Mohamed, a journalist at La Nouvelle République newspaper in Mascara, was fined and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment in June for making “defamatory comments” in reporting that a state official had failed to implement a judicial decision. He remained at liberty pending an appeal.
  • In October, the authorities rejected an application for registration from the National Association for the fight against corruption (ANLC), giving no specific reasons.

Freedom of assembly

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.

  • On 24 April, security forces were reported to have beaten up and arrested judicial clerks engaged in a sit-in protest over their working conditions.

Human rights defenders

The authorities continued to harass human rights defenders, including through the courts.