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TITLE:  ALGERIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                            ALGERIA


Algeria's 1989 Constitution was supposed to provide for its 
conversion from a single-party Socialist state to a multiparty 
parliamentary system.  Power, however, continued to reside in a 
government composed of present and former ruling party 
officials.  Moreover, after an Islamist party, the Islamic 
Salvation Front (FIS), won the first round in the first 
multiparty national legislative elections in December 1991, 
President Chadli Benjedid resigned in January 1992 under 
pressure from the army and others within the Government.  The 
next day the regime cancelled the second round of elections.  A 
five-member High State Committee (HSC) was created to act as 
Algeria's collective presidency.  The HSC declared a state of 
emergency in February 1992 and had the FIS banned a month 
later.  HSC president Mohamed Boudiaf was assassinated in June 
1992; he was replaced by Ali Kafi, who remains in office.  In 
August 1993, the HSC appointed Redha Malek as Prime Minister.  
The HSC has pledged to step down by January 31, 1994, to be 
replaced by another presidential body until the regime decides 
conditions merit a resumption of the political process.

The police, the gendarmerie, and the army maintain internal 
security.  In efforts to restore stability, repress Islamic 
militancy, and combat terrorism, security forces have resorted 
to the use of excessive force, harsh treatment, and, in many 
cases, torture of prisoners and detainees.

Incidents of terrorism (which began in early 1992) continued 
throughout 1993.  Such incidents included daily attacks against 
security forces; assassinations of numerous journalists, 
intellectuals, and a senior political personality; and attempts 
against the lives of three government ministers.

Algeria's industrialized hydrocarbon-based economy (agriculture 
accounts for less than 10 percent of the gross domestic 
product) remains largely under government control, with the 
State operating most major industries, much of the distribution 
and retail systems, and the banking and credit system.  Under 
former Prime Minister Abdesselam, the Government pursued an 
economic program maintaining a predominant state role in 
managing the economy.  Prime Minister Redha Malek's Cabinet, 
appointed in September, said it would pursue reforms that put 
more emphasis on the private sector.  High population growth, 
an acute housing shortage, scarcity of foreign exchange, 
inflation and unemployment exceeding 20 percent, and the legacy 
of years of economic inefficiency continue to hamper government 
efforts to satisfy social needs.


The human rights situation, which deteriorated severely in 1992 
following the cancellation of elections and the declaration of 
a state of emergency, further deteriorated in 1993.  The 
Government extended the state of emergency and postponed new 
elections for 2 to 3 years; it continued to hold some 800 
people in two administrative detention camps without benefit of 
due process, despite its pledge that it would close the camps; 
and it continued to restrict freedom of speech and press, 
suspending three new publications on security grounds while 
maintaining the earlier suspension of seven others.  Within the 
upward spiraling cycle of violence, there were allegations that 
security forces engaged in extrajudicial killings, as well as 
credible reports of the security forces' frequent resort to 
torture, although the Government said it will not tolerate such 
actions.  The Government claimed it investigated cases of 
security force members accused of committing such abuses but 
gave no details, creating at the very least the public 
impression of a climate of impunity for such actions.  Other 
human rights problems included denial of the right to a fair 
trial, especially in the antiterrorist courts, and ongoing 
restrictions on freedoms of assembly, religion, and women's 
rights.  Extremist opposition elements also committed human 
rights abuses on a large scale, waging a campaign of terrorism 
and armed attacks which claimed the lives of some 300 members 
of the security forces.  

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killings

Some opponents of the regime assert that the Government was 
responsible for politically motivated extrajudicial killings, 
arguing that at least some of the more than 500 alleged 
terrorists killed in 1993 in armed clashes with security forces 
were not offered the chance to surrender and were thus killed 
extrajudicially.  One credible source cited the September 29 
killing of 10 alleged terrorists in Benzerga as an example of 
extrajudicial killing.  Furthermore, many Algerians believe 
that the Government was responsible for political 
assassinations, including the killing in August of senior 
political personality Kasdi Merbah; the Government blamed 
Islamists (a claim denied by the FIS) for his death.  There 
were also claims by Islamist opponents of the regime, and at 
least one independent human rights league, that a number of 
people died in official custody as a result of harsh conditions 
and torture.  The human rights league did not publicly cite any 
specific cases.

Government forces were subject to armed attacks throughout the 
year, resulting in the deaths of over 300 security force 
members, according to official figures for 1993.  Three 
ministers were targets of assassination attempts:  Defense 
Minister Khaled Nezzar in February, Labor Minister Tahar Hamdi 
in March, and Equipment Minister Mokdad Sifi in June.  

Although armed attacks were aimed primarily against security 
forces and government officials, private citizens were also 
targets, including a number of civilians accused by the 
opposition of collaboration with the Government, as well as 
foreigners in Algeria.  In February armed men attacked a 
schoolbus carrying gendarmes' children, and a bomb was placed 
in a university faculty office; in March intellectuals Laadi 
Flici, Hafid Senhadri, and Djilali Liabes were assassinated; in 
April armed men wounded the head of the former Communist Party; 
in May noted writer Tahar Djaout was assassinated, and gunmen 
attacked the director of Algeria's leading newspaper; in June 
Dr. Mahfoud Boucebci and professor Mohamed Boukhobza, prominent 
professionals, were assassinated, and several ambulances 
carrying civilians were attacked; in July journalist Merzak 
Begtache was attacked; in August Kasdi Merbah and journalists 
Rabah Zenati and Abdelhamid Benmenni were assassinated; in 
September writer Abderrahmane Chergou and two French citizens 
were assassinated; in October gunmen assassinated an Islamic 
studies professor, a former Marxist Party official, noted 
doctor and human rights advocate Djilali Belkhenchir, 
journalist Ismail Yefah, and former national television 
director Mustapha Abada.  The same month, gunmen kidnaped three 
French consular officials (who were later freed), and 
assassinated an Islamic studies professor, an Algiers 
University lecturer and former Marxist Party official, noted 
doctor and human rights activist Djilali Belkhenchir, 
journalist Ismail Yehsah, former national television director 
Mustapha Abada, two Russian military advisors, and three 
foreigners working for a European construction company.  In 
November gunmen attacked a photographer for the newspaper 
El Watan, and kidnaped a well-known Islamic director of a 
national charity organization.  In December armed elements 
assassinated a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official, a 
Spanish businessman, a Frenchman resident in Algeria, a Russian 
woman resident in Algeria, a British computer technician 
working for an American company, and 12 Croatian hydroelectric 
company employees.  The Armed Islamic Group, one of the most 
important armed groups in Algeria, claimed responsibility for 
some of the actions against the foreigners.

While difficult to confirm, there is also credible information 
about acts of vigilante vengeance against Islamists.

     b.  Disappearance

With the Government no longer engaging in a policy of 
large-scale administrative internment in southern Algeria, 
charges of individual disappearance were far fewer in 1993 than 
in 1992.  Nevertheless, some regime opponents charged that a 
number of people detained by security forces in 1993 were not 
heard from again.  The Government denied the charge and called 
for the names of persons who allegedly had disappeared to be 
made public to permit an official investigation.  No such names 
were made public by the regime's opponents.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Knowledgeable sources, including Amnesty International (AI) and 
an independent Algerian human rights league, continued to 
report the frequent use of torture and brutal treatment of 
prisoners by the security forces.  The National Observatory of 
Human Rights (ONDH, a government-created organization) argued 
that a special legal apparatus exists in Algeria to try those 
accused of torture but that many alleged victims have refused 
to pursue their cases for fear of reprisal.  Nevertheless, the 
ONDH said it had sent 10 to 12 allegations of security force 
mistreatment of detainees to the Justice Ministry for 
investigation.  Torture techniques used by security forces 
reportedly include electric shocks, beatings, burning with 
cigarettes, suffocating victims with cloths soaked in chemicals 
or filthy water, and insertion of objects into the anus.

The Government acknowledged that episodes of security force 
mistreatment of alleged terrorists occurred in 1993 but 
rejected claims that torture by security forces was practiced 
either systematically or with official approval.  Government 
spokesmen argue that some prisoners use allegations of torture 
for political purposes.  The Government has pledged to 
investigate allegations of torture for which evidence is 
presented.  According to the Government, several security force 
members have been punished for committing such abuses, but it 
refused to make public any information regarding these cases, 
making it impossible to confirm this claim.

There were credible reports that extremist elements fighting 
the regime also committed acts of torture, although information 
on such incidents is difficult to confirm.  The bodies of two 
police officers kidnaped by Islamist extremists in February 
were found with signs indicating they had been tortured to 
death.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention and 
stipulates that incommunicado detention for questioning in 
criminal cases prior to arraignment may not exceed 48 hours, 
after which the suspect must be charged or released.  Under the 
Penal Code, this period may be extended to 4 days by written 
request of the Public Prosecutor.  An antiterrorist decree 
issued in October 1992 increased the allowable length of 
prearraignment incommunicado detention of suspected terrorists 
to 12 days.  However, there have been credible charges from 
local human rights observers that authorities have detained 
people for more than 12 days.  Critics have noted that such 
lengthy periods of incommunicado detention create the 
conditions in which torture and other abuse flourish, as well 
as making it difficult or impossible for the Government to 
refute allegations thereof.  Provisional liberty may be granted 
if the detainee can prove that he will be present at all stages 
of the inquiry.  Under law, detainees must be informed 
immediately of charges against them.  Once charged, a person 
may be held in pretrial detention indefinitely while the case 
is investigated.

Provisions established in Article 5 of the State of Emergency 
Declaration authorized the Interior Ministry to detain, in 
internment camps under the authority of the army, anyone 
thought to constitute a public danger.  Of some 9,000 people 
detained in 8 camps in 1992, roughly 800 remained under 
detention in 2 camps by the end of 1993, despite the 
Government's pledges to close the camps and either release or 
try in a court of law the remaining detainees, who were 
detained without benefit of legal representation or due 
process.  Security forces in 1993 made thousands of arrests for 
security-related incidents.  (The Justice Minister told the 
Algerian press in November that 5,000 people currently in 
prison had been arrested on security-related charges.)  Critics 
charge that many of those detained were arrested arbitrarily 
and without any legal basis.

There is no bail system.  Lawyers are permitted regular access 
to their clients (except for periods of prearraignment 
detention described above).  Special antiterrorist courts 
sometimes violated this right:  lawyers for defendants accused 
of involvement in the August 1992 Algiers airport bombing, for 
example, were denied access to clients on several occasions 
before the May trial.  Lawyer-client meetings are supervised 
visually by a guard.  The exact number of political detainees 
is not known, but the 800 persons remaining in detention camps, 
who have never been charged, much less tried under law, would 
have to be included in the total.  

Exile is not a legal form of punishment in Algeria and is not 
known to be practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judicial system consists of civil, military, and special 
antiterrorist courts.  There are no Islamic courts, although 
Shari'a law forms much of the basis for civil court rulings on 
social matters.  All three systems are reportedly seriously 
overloaded by an increase in the number of arrests in 1993.

The Constitution provides for the independence of the 
judiciary, and it is generally independent of the executive 
branch in deciding cases not involving security or public 
order.  In cases involving public order, and particularly in 
military and antiterrorist courts, the Government is able to 
influence court decisions.  Appointing judges is the 
prerogative of the executive branch; no legislative approval is 
necessary.  Civilian judges are appointed by the President 
based on recommendations made by the Higher Magistrate's 
Council, composed of the President, the Minister of Justice, 
and various members of the judiciary.  Because the council is 
led by officials of the executive branch, its institutional 
independence is open to question.

The October 1992 Antiterrorist Decree provided for three 
special courts, each made up of three civilian judges whose 
identities are secret, to try crimes specifically relating to 
terrorism.  The decree defined terrorism broadly as "any act 
committed against individuals...or symbols of the Republic with 
the aim of jeopardizing life, security, or property, or the 
obstruction of public authorities or institutions...or the 
encouragement of such acts, including through the reprinting or 
redistribution of documents or recordings."  These courts began 
functioning on January 3, 1993.

The October 1992 Antiterrorist Decree does not specifically 
preclude the Algerian public or press or foreign observers from 
attending special court trials, but leaves it to the judges' 
discretion whether to open or close the proceedings.  Although 
the local press has attended and reported on such trials, 
foreign observers, including correspondents and human rights 
groups, have not been allowed to attend.  Key cases tried by 
these courts in 1993 included the May trial of 54 defendants 
accused of various crimes, including the 1992 airport bombing 
(the court convicted 51, handing down 38 death sentences, 
including 26 in absentia), and the August trial of the Said 
Mekhloufi group (35 death sentences, including 29 in 
absentia).  The antiterrorist courts handed down more than 300 
death sentences during 1993, more than half of which were 
handed down in absentia.  Twenty-six defendants were executed.  
AI expressed concern that many of the death sentences were 
imposed following "grossly unfair trials."

The special antiterrorist courts restrict certain defense 
rights protected by the regular court system.  The courts have 
allowed the use of confessions allegedly extracted under 
torture which were later repudiated by defendants in court.  
Under state of emergency provisions, the courts have restricted 
access to defense lawyers and rights of appeal.  According to 
an April decree reinforcing the powers of these courts, the 
courts have the right to suspend lawyers from appearing before 
the court for up to 1 year for using "obstructive methods," 
special court prosecutors may arbitrarily transfer to the 
special court system cases already assigned to the regular 
criminal courts, and lawyers must receive court authorization 
in order to represent clients at special court trials.  
Overall, these courts fail to accord the protections necessary 
to meet internationally accepted standards for fair trial.

Antiterrorist courts offer the Government greater influence 
over the outcome of security-related trials, as is suggested by 
the high rate of convictions and death sentences.  According to 
the Justice Minister, 85 percent of the defendants are 
convicted and 12 percent get the death penalty.  The 
Independent Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights 
(LADDH) issued a statement in September calling for the closure 
of these courts, which it deemed "arbitrary and illegal."  AI 
notes that "executions after unfair trials are summary or 
arbitrary executions."

In civilian courts, defendants are usually permitted 
unrestricted access to lawyers, who operate without government 
interference.  The Algerian Bar Association is legally required 
to provide free legal services to defendants unable to afford 
counsel.  Defendants are advised of the charges against them at 
the time they are bound over for trial.  Defendants have the 
right to confront witnesses and present evidence.  Trials are 
public, although generally not publicized, and defendants have 
the right of appeal.

Military courts, which originally had jurisdiction only in 
cases involving military personnel, were given broad 
jurisdiction by Article 10 of the State of Emergency 
Declaration to try civilians for security-related crimes.  
Although the vast majority of such cases in 1993 were heard by 
antiterrorist courts, cases involving civilians heard by 
military courts included the trial of FIS lawyer Brahim Taouti, 
who was convicted in May of distributing a subversive document 
and sentenced to 3 years in prison.  Prior to the trial, the 
military prosecutor had argued that a military tribunal did not 
have jurisdiction over this case, an argument rejected by the 
military court.

The Government denied that there were any political prisoners 
in Algeria in 1993.  Nevertheless, the State of Emergency 
Declaration and the Antiterrorist Decree allow for the 
sentencing of people for nonviolent expression of certain 
political views; many of the people imprisoned since February 
1992 for expressing such views thus could be considered 
political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

Although the Constitution provides for the inviolability of the 
home, Article 6 of the State of Emergency Declaration 
authorizes the Interior Ministry and provincial governors to 
designate specific areas where visitors and nonresidents of 
particular areas must stay, refuse residence to anyone whose 
activity is perceived as threatening to public order, and issue 
"exceptional search warrants" at any time of day or night.  
Security forces frequently use these special provisions to 
enter residences and question suspects.  During 1993 there were 
increasingly frequent reports that armed opposition 
elements entered private homes, either to kidnap residents or 
to steal weapons.  Many Algerians believe the security services 
use telephone-monitoring systems, reportedly without the prior 
court authorization that is required by law.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violation of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

Charges of excessive force against demonstrators were far less 
common in 1993 than in 1992, in part because demonstrations did 
not occur as frequently as in 1992 due to the regime's ban on 
demonstrations.  Security forces clashed on at least two 
occasions with small gatherings of demonstrators outside 
mosques in Algiers.  Excessive force, including live fire, was 
reportedly used to disperse the gatherings; it is not known if 
there were any resulting deaths or injuries.  These incidents 
were not reported by the Algerian press.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

These freedoms were restricted in 1993 by the Government's 
action in suspending several publications and detaining 
journalists for reports that the Government deemed harmful to 
public order.  They were also impaired by the ongoing terrorist 
attacks against journalists and writers.

The State of Emergency Declaration gives the regime broad 
authority to reestablish public order.  This authority, 
bolstered by the December 1992 Antiterrorist Decree, forced 
many journals to practice self-censorship in reporting on 
security issues.  It also discouraged public expression of 
views supportive of the banned Islamic Salvation Front.  While 
the Government said it did not object to criticism as long as 
such criticism did not weaken the institutions of the State or 
threaten security or public order, the Government decides what 
criteria to apply.

Under authority granted to it by Article 5 of the State of 
Emergency Declaration (and Presidential Decree No. 92-320 of 
August 1992), the Government suspended three publications in 
1993:  El Watan, a French language independent daily, was 
suspended for 9 days in January for "prematurely printing" an 
account of the killing of several security force members; 
Elmassa, an Arabic-language government-owned daily, was 
suspended for 2 days in January for printing a story deemed 
insulting to the head of state of a neighboring country; and El 
Djazair El Youm, an Arabic-language independent daily, was 
suspended in August, and remains suspended, for printing an 
advertisement from an Islamist group challenging several death 
sentences handed down by an antiterrorist court.  Seven 
journals suspended in 1992, including two FIS journals, also 
remained suspended in 1993.

Following El Watan's suspension, a government spokesman told 
the press that security-related stories would henceforth 
require official approval before they could be printed.  
Although no official directive was ever issued, most journals 
thereafter reported more cautiously on security incidents.

Six El Watan employees, including the director, were detained 
by the authorities for 1 week in January; at the end of the 
year they were still considered to be on "provisional liberty" 
and could be called to trial at anytime.  Three employees of El 
Djazair El Youm, including the director, were forbidden in 
September to leave the country or engage in journalistic 
activity and at year's end were awaiting trial by a special 
antiterrorist court.  Authorities briefly detained a Reuter 
correspondent in March for erroneously reporting the 
assassination of a government minister.  Authorities detained 
three employees of the independent French-language weekly 
L'Evenement, including the director, on December 15 following 
the publication of an article on Algerian Islamists that the 
authorities judged inflammatory.  Two employees were kept in 
prison; the director was granted provisional liberty for health 
reasons.  The three face trial in a criminal court.  Despite 
these suspensions and arrests, the Algerian press continues to 
carry expressions of opinion contrary to those of the 
Government, often including sharp criticism of the Government's 
political, economic, and social policies and often stridently 
criticizing the Prime Minister and President by name.  However, 
the press has been careful to avoid criticism of the state of 
emergency or the Government's handling of the security 
situation.

For financial reasons, most newspapers currently use 
state-owned companies to print and distribute their 
publications.  

The numerous terrorist attacks on the press in 1993 included, 
as noted in Section 1.a., the assassinations of at least seven 
journalists and armed attacks against several others, including 
the director of Algeria's preeminent French-language daily.


Radio and television remained under government control, with 
coverage biased in favor of the Government's policies.  Because 
of the widespread accessibility of satellite dish antennas, 
however, millions of Algerians have access to both MBC (an 
Arabic-language network broadcasting from London) and European 
(particularly French) television and watch them regularly.

Academic freedom is constrained to the extent that academicians 
must operate within similar limitations as the press with 
regard to criticizing the Government.  Academic seminars and 
colloquia are rarely restricted, even when the topic includes 
political discussion (although, as with the press, criticism of 
the regime's security policies is discouraged).  Some Algerian 
professors attend international conferences regularly, and many 
Algerian professors are active in human rights circles without 
apparent prejudice to their careers, although they too must 
avoid outright challenges to the Government's security policies.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Although the Constitution and legislation adopted in 1989 
provide for the rights of assembly and association, freedom of 
peaceful assembly is sharply curtailed under the state of 
emergency.  Article 7 of the State of Emergency Declaration 
allows the Government to close "all places of entertainment, 
halls, and assembly places, as well as ban all demonstrations 
likely to disturb peace and threaten public order."

In 1993 the authorities generally allowed meetings, assemblies, 
and marches to occur, provided they were consistent with the 
regime's security policies.  Permits were granted for a 
national march against violence in March (in which 
antigovernment placards were carried), for public assemblies 
held in June by Algerian economic associations (which were 
critical of the Government's economic policies), for an 
assembly held by the Algerian Journalists' Association (which 
was critical of the Government's handling of the press), and 
for a gathering to mark the commemoration of President 
Boudiaf's 1992 assassination (at which the Government's 
handling of the investigation of the assassination was 
criticized).  Permits were also granted to the Front for 
Socialist Forces (FFS), a political party stridently critical 
of the Government's policies, to hold public assemblies in June 
and October.  In April Berber cultural groups demonstrated 
throughout Kabylie without having obtained a permit to do so; 
most of the demonstrations were allowed to take place, although 
at least one group of marchers was dispersed with tear gas.


According to the July 1989 Political Associations Law, 
membership in political organizations is permitted for all 
Algerians except judges, army and security service personnel, 
and members of the Constitutional Council.  All nongovernmental 
associations must be approved by the Interior Ministry.  Most 
political groups operate openly, although the FIS was banned in 
March 1992.  These range from political parties--there were 
over 55 parties, including some centrist Islamic parties such 
as Hamas, active in 1993--to specialized groups such as human 
rights and womens' rights groups.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Almost all Algerians are Muslim.  While the Constitution 
declares Islam to be the state religion (an Algerian 
interpretation of the Maliki school of Islamic law), it 
prohibits discrimination based on religious belief.  The 
Government protects the rights of the small Christian and 
Jewish populations and often includes leaders of these 
communities at ceremonial state functions.  The Jewish 
community numbers fewer than 200 and maintains a synagogue in 
central Algiers.  Algerian Christians reportedly number fewer 
than 1,000 and often worship only in private.  Both Roman 
Catholic and Protestant churches are found in Algiers, 
primarily serving the foreign Christian community.

Conversion from Islam to Christianity is extremely rare and is 
severely sanctioned by the community.  Algerians who convert 
from Islam do so clandestinely.  The Islamic clergy receives 
religious training administered by the Government, and the 
Ministry of Religious Affairs appoints imams to both state and 
privately funded mosques.  On at least three occasions in 1993, 
progovernment imams were assassinated.  Also during the year, 
several imams were reportedly removed from their positions for 
preaching antigovernment views, and Friday sermons at larger 
mosques were reportedly monitored by security forces, leading 
regime critics to argue that their freedom of religion had been 
compromised.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Freedom to travel within Algeria and abroad and to emigrate is 
provided for by law and is generally respected in practice, 
although minor children are not allowed to travel abroad 
without their father's permission.  A curfew imposed in 
December 1992, and modified in May 1993, prohibits people from 
traveling within Algiers and surrounding provinces between 
11:30 p.m. and 4 a.m.  Gendarmerie checkpoints in the cities 
and countryside routinely stop vehicles to inspect 
identification papers and vehicle registrations and 
occasionally search for signs of terrorist activity or evidence 
of black marketeering.  There are some administrative 
restrictions on foreign travel related to mandatory military 
service and the obligation to repay state education 
scholarships.

The Constitution provides for the right of political asylum.  
Based on data provided by the Government, the United Nations 
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 
approximately 165,000 Sahrawi refugees live in camps in 
southwestern Algeria.  Of these, some 80,000 are considered by 
the UNHCR to be in vulnerable groups and thus in need of aid.  
Sahrawi refugees in southwestern Algeria are supported by both 
the Government and the UNHCR.  Another estimated 50,000 
displaced Tuaregs from Mali and Niger live in settlements in 
southern Algeria.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The cancellation of National Assembly elections and assumption 
of power by the High State Committee (HSC) in 1992 effectively 
denied citizens the right to change their government.  
Constitutional provisions approved by the National Assembly in 
1989 that afford Algerians the right to change their government 
have been effectively suspended.

National elections in December 1991 resulted in a decisive 
victory for the FIS--188 of the 430 assembly seats went to the 
FIS; 15 went to the governing National Liberation Front (FLN) 
and reflected strong popular discontent with the Government.  
In January 1992, President Bendjedid resigned under pressure 
from the army; election results were cancelled; and a 5-member 
presidency, the HSC, was named to serve until December 1993 
when Bendjedid's term of office was to end.  The HSC pledged to 
respect this mandate and said it will step down before January 
31, 1994.  However, the Government has postponed resumption of 
the electoral process until it considers conditions, including 
the security situation, to be stable enough to allow a 
resumption.  Until such time, a transition government will be 
responsible for governing the country.  The Government has not 
offered a definitive timetable for new elections but has said 
repeatedly that 2 to 3 years would be needed before elections 
could resume.

Two levels of local government exist:  1,541 local districts 
elect municipal councils to 4-year terms, and 48 provinces 
elect provincial councils to 5-year terms to work in 
consultation with provincial governors appointed by the 
Interior Ministry.  In local and regional elections in June 
1990, the FIS won control of 853 municipal and 32 provincial 
councils.  But in 1992 and 1993, under Article 8 of the State 
of Emergency Declaration, the Government replaced most elected 
local councils--including all 895 FIS-controlled councils as 
well as some FLN, Hamas, and Rally for Culture and Democracy 
(RCD) councils--with government-appointed executive committees.

Very few women are active in government; there are presently no 
women among the 26 Cabinet ministers.  Fewer than than 1 
percent of the candidates for assembly seats in the 1991 
election were women, a reflection of strong social pressures 
against women's participation in politics and government.

The Berbers, an important indigenous minority group, 
participate freely and actively in the political process.  Two 
important Kabylie-based (see Section 5) political parties 
exist, including the FFS, which came in second to the FIS in 
the number of seats won in the December 1991 election, and the 
RCD.  Furthermore, Berbers hold a number of influential 
positions within the Government and the army.  Algerian Tuaregs 
(a people of Berber origin) do not play as important a role in 
the national-level political process, due in large part to 
their small numbers (estimated in the tens of thousands) and 
their nomadic nature.  Systemic or government-sanctioned 
barriers to political participation, however, do not exist 
against any minority groups.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

A number of human rights organizations are active in Algeria, 
including the Committee Against Torture, the Algerian League of 
Human Rights (which is affiliated with the Maghreb Human Rights 
Association), the Algerian League for the Defense of Human 
Rights, and the National Observatory of Human Rights (a 
government-created organization charged with monitoring and 
reporting developments to the HSC).  Human rights monitors 
receive wide coverage in the independent press and hold press 
conferences to express their views, including criticism of 
government security policies and allegations of security force 
use of torture.  No human rights groups have publicly aired 
charges of extrajudicial killings by the security forces.  
Human rights groups tend to be ignored by the government-
controlled media.

The Government permitted a visit by the secretary general of AI 
in April, a month after AI released a highly critical report on 
the Government's human rights record.  He met with the then 
Foreign Minister Redha Malek and delivered widely reported 
public remarks critical of the Government's human rights record.

The New York-based Middle East Watch (MEW) did not receive 
permission to visit Algeria in 1993, despite numerous requests 
by MEW to the Government.  The International Committee of the 
Red Cross (ICRC) was permitted to visit Algeria in April 1992, 
but has been denied permission to visit since then.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The 1989 Constitution specifically prohibits discrimination 
based on birth, race, sex, belief, or any other personal or 
social conditions or circumstance.  The State of Emergency 
Declaration did not affect these prohibitions.  The 1989 
Constitution omits, however, the specific guarantees for 
women's political, economic, social, and cultural rights that 
had been included in the 1976 constitution.  

     Women

Women's rights are restricted by Islamic law and custom.  
Women's rights to work, live independently, and generally 
function outside the traditional Muslim social norm have come 
under attack from Islamist leaders and conservative elements of 
society.  Revisions in 1984 to Algeria's Family Code 
effectively restricted women's rights.

Under the Family Code, much of which is based on Shari'a law, 
women, regardless of their age, employment, or civil status, 
remain like minors under the legal guardianship of a husband or 
father.  Although the Family Code allows husbands to have four 
wives (a rare occurrence in Algeria), it requires the husband 
to disclose his marital status and intent to both his present 
and future spouses.  If he fails to tell the truth, any of his 
wives may file a suit in court against him for fraud or 
divorce.  The Code awards 4 months of alimony to the woman 
regardless of the husband's means and the circumstances of the 
divorce, although under the Code the wife may receive a 
significant settlement in cash or property after divorce if so 
stipulated in the marriage contract.  Because the Code forbids 
Algerian women from marrying non-Muslims, women engaged to 
non-Muslim men can be subjected to harassment, reportedly 
including confiscation of their passports by authorities.  In 
March women's rights advocates commemorated International 
Womens' Day by calling on the Government to protect women's 
rights and to change the Family Code.

With the growing influence of highly traditional Islamist views 
and norms, secularist women regard themselves as increasingly 
under pressure from proponents of the implementation of Islamic 
law.  Conservative societal and family pressures, as well as 
support or fear of political Islam, have compelled many 
Algerian women to wear Islamic dress, including the hijab 
headcovering with ankle-length overdress.  Many other women, 
however, continue to wear Western dress despite what they feel 
is continuous harassment and pressure to dress more 
traditionally.

Roughly 10 to 15 percent of the work force are women, most of 
whom work in urban areas.  Many of these women are trained and 
employed in the fields of medicine, education, and the media; 
some women serve in the armed forces.  Some orthodox Islamists 
have blamed high national unemployment (21 percent according to 
official figures) on female participation in the workplace and 
argue that women should not work outside the home.  However, 
some moderate Islamist leaders have publicly defended the right 
of women to work.  Girls represent just under 50 percent of 
students enrolled in primary and secondary schools and 35 
percent of students enrolled in universities.

The extent of violence against women is unclear.  National 
studies on this problem do not exist, but the Central Hospital 
in Algiers alone reported more than 4,600 cases of abuse 
against women requiring medical treatment in 1991 and 1992.  
Women's rights advocates assert that such violence is not rare, 
particularly in the context of family conflicts (i.e., wife and 
sister beating) in more conservative, male-dominated families.  
Such abuse, however, is increasingly unacceptable to 
middle-class Algerians.  Violence against women is seldom 
discussed publicly, although several independent journals 
published articles on the subject during 1993.  Wives who are 
beaten by their husbands may file criminal charges or sue for 
divorce, but such legal actions are rare, and civil courts are 
far more likely to rule in favor of men, according to women's 
rights advocates.  Cases of rape and incest continue to be 
underreported to police and to doctors, due to the social 
stigma attached in Algeria to victims of such crimes.  The 
Government is committed in principle to combating violence 
against women, but, given the higher priority it places on 
other political and security problems, it devoted few resources 
and little attention to this issue in 1993.

     Children

The Government is committed in principle to protecting 
children's human rights and welfare.  Several children's 
advocacy groups exist, including the Association for Childrens' 
Rights and the National Association for the Defense of 
Children's Rights.  Governments at the regional level offer 
social and sanitary services for children, but financial 
resources for such services are severely limited.  Furthermore, 
according to local observers, neither the Penal Code nor the 
Family Code offers sufficient legal protection to children.  
Although most larger hospitals treat at least several dozen 
cases of child abuse every year, many more such cases go 
unreported.  Some schools, according to news accounts, still 
use corporal punishment, and disciplinary beatings of children 
by parents are said to be common.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Algeria's population is ethnically mixed, and ethnic minorities 
seem to fare no better and no worse than other Algerians.  
Berbers were the original inhabitants of the region, and their 
ethnic consciousness, fueled by a desire to preserve their 
distinctive cultural identity and language in the face of the 
Government's emphasis on the development of an Arab identity, 
remains strong.  Many Algerians are both Arab and Berber, and 
many Berbers hold positions of influence within Algerian 
society.  Nevertheless, some Berber spokesmen assert that the 
Government implicitly seeks to repress the Berber culture, 
including the teaching and propagation of Amazight, the 
language of the Kabylie Berbers.  Amazight is not taught in 
primary and secondary schools but is taught at Tizi Ouzou 
University.  A clear expression of Berber ethnic consciousness 
was evident in April when Berber groups organized marches and 
demonstrations in commemoration of Berber demonstrations in 
1981.


The situation of the nomadic Tuareg of Algeria's southern 
desert continues to be of domestic and international concern.  
The drought in the central Sahara continues to disrupt 
traditional Tuareg patterns of life.  Notwithstanding 
agreements negotiated between the Governments of Algeria, Mali, 
Niger, and Libya and Tuareg representatives, Tuareg-related 
grievances and conflicts outside Algeria remain unresolved.  As 
a consequence, large numbers of Tuareg refugees (from Niger and 
Mali) remain in Algeria.  Government authorities encourage 
Algerian Tuareg to settle and generally treat them fairly.

     People with Disabilities

The Government is committed in principle to protecting the 
rights and welfare of the disabled.  The Ministry of Labor and 
Social Affairs sponsored in January the creation of the 
Consultative Council for the Protection of Handicapped People 
(CNCIPH).  It is charged with identifying and resolving 
professional discrimination against the handicapped, organizing 
cultural and sporting activities for the handicapped, providing 
the handicapped with professional training and placement 
assistance, and working to assure the accessibility of public 
places to the handicapped.  Several private associations for 
the disabled also exist, including the Federation of 
Associations for the Physically Handicapped.  The lack of 
available government resources, however, greatly limits the 
services and assistance that both the public and private 
associations are able to provide to the disabled.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Algerian workers have the right to form and be represented by 
trade unions of their choice.  Government approval for the 
creation of a labor union is not necessary, although 
considerable limits are imposed on union activities, and one 
Islamist union, SIT, has been banned.  Unions are not legally 
allowed to be associated with political parties, although in 
practice some, including the General Union of Algerian Workers 
(UGTA), still are.  Unions are forbidden to receive funds from 
abroad, and the Government may suspend a union's operations if 
it violates the law.  Unions are also subject to dissolution by 
judicial means if a court finds the union has engaged in 
illegal activities.


The State of Emergency Declaration authorized the Government to 
require workers to continue their usual jobs in both public and 
private enterprises in the event of an unauthorized or illegal 
strike.  The 1990 Law on Industrial Relations permits strikes 
only after 14 days of mandatory conciliation, mediation, or 
arbitration efforts.  This law states that arbitration 
decisions in worker-management disputes are binding on both 
parties.  If no agreement is reached, and provided a majority 
of the workers vote by secret ballot to strike, the workers may 
legally strike.  A minimum level of public services must be 
maintained during public service sector strikes.

Approximately 10 major strikes and numerous minor ones were 
held in all sectors in 1993.  Although many of these strikes 
did not satisfy the terms set by the 1990 law (in many cases 
there were no attempts at arbitration or mediation), the 
Government did not prosecute the striking workers.  Strikes 
included those by dock workers, airport maintenance workers, 
and workers in the construction sector.  Most of the strikes 
were resolved by wage or other concessions from management.  
The Government did not invoke the State of Emergency provisions 
to force striking workers back to work.  The 1990 law on work 
relations prohibits retribution against striking workers.

Unions may form and join federations or confederations and 
affiliate with international bodies.  Several Algerian unions, 
including the UGTA, have sought international contacts beyond 
the quasi-official Arab and African trade union organizations 
in which they participate.  The UGTA, for example, established 
direct contact in 1993 with the AFL-CIO.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The 1990 law permits collective bargaining for all unions, and 
this right has been freely practiced.  The law also prohibits 
discrimination by employers against union members and 
organizers and provides mechanisms for resolving trade union 
complaints of antiunion practices by employers.  It further 
permits all unions, whether longstanding or newly created, to 
recruit members at the workplace.  In the context of a new 
Investment Code approved in September, the Government announced 
its intention to establish an undetermined number of free trade 
zones.


     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is incompatible with the 
Constitution's provisions on individual rights.  The Penal Code 
was amended in 1990 to ban compulsory labor explicitly (prior 
to this, compulsory labor by convicted prisoners was allowed).  
This ban is effectively enforced by labor inspections and penal 
sanctions.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum employment age is 16 years.  Work inspectors, who 
report to the Ministry of Labor, are responsible for enforcing 
the minimum employment age by periodic or unannounced 
inspection visits to the workplace.  The minimum age is 
enforced in the state sector, the country's largest employment 
sector.  It is not effectively enforced in the agricultural or 
small private sectors, but violations are not widespread.  
However, many children under 16 are driven by economic 
necessity into informal employment, such as street vending.  
Legislation on acceptable working hours does not make a 
distinction between young workers and the regular work force.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The 1990 Law on Work Relations defines the overall framework 
for acceptable conditions of work but leaves specific policies 
with regard to hours, salaries, and other work conditions to 
the discretion of employers in consultation with employees.  A 
guaranteed monthly minimum wage rate for all sectors is fixed 
by government decree.  The most recent minimum wage agreement, 
reached in 1992, set the minimum monthly wage at roughly $75 
(1,800 dinars) per month, which is not adequate to provide a 
worker with a family a decent standard of living.  Ministry of 
Labor work inspectors are responsible for ensuring compliance 
with the minimum wage regulations, although enforcement 
reportedly has been inconsistent.

Algeria has a 44-hour workweek with a 24-hour rest period and 
well developed occupational and health regulations codified in 
a January 1991 decree, but enforcement by government inspectors 
is generally lax.  Laws on working conditions do not specify 
whether workers have the right to remove themselves from 
dangerous work situations without jeopardy to continued 
employment. (###)


[end of document]

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