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2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Algeria

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Algeria, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30ce937.html [accessed 23 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

ALGERIA (Tier 3)

Algeria is a transit and, to a lesser extent, a destination and source country for women and, to a lesser extent, men, subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Most commonly, sub-Saharan African men and women enter Algeria voluntarily but illegally, often with the assistance of smugglers, for the purpose of traveling to Europe. Some of these women are forced into prostitution. Criminal networks which sometimes extend to sub-Saharan Africa and to Europe are involved in both smuggling and human trafficking. The "chairmen," or leaders, of the "African villages" – small non-Algerian ethnic enclaves located in and around the southern city of Tamanrasset – are among those responsible for forcing women into prostitution. To a lesser extent, some sub-Saharan African men, mostly from Mali, are forced domestic workers; homeowners sometimes confiscate identification documents, indicative of forced labor. Some Algerian women are also forced into prostitution. Civil society groups believe that as Europe tightens its borders, Algeria is increasingly becoming a destination for both undocumented migration and trafficking. The "cost" – in terms of fees – of a migrant's trip to and through Algeria have increased due to a greater crackdown against undocumented migration. Malians continue to flee insecurity in Mali and flood into southern Algeria; some of these migrants could be vulnerable to forced labor or forced prostitution.

The Government of Algeria does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government sought prosecutions under its 2009 anti-trafficking law, yet continued to conflate human trafficking and smuggling. It failed to identify and protect trafficking victims and continued to lack adequate measures to protect victims. The government engaged in some awareness efforts to educate the public about human trafficking and workplace exploitation.

Recommendations for Algeria: Proactively increase implementation of Algeria's anti-trafficking law by continuing to train law enforcement and judicial officials, investigate potential offenses, and prosecute alleged offenders; establish capacity to identify victims of trafficking among illegal migrants; ensure that trafficking victims are offered necessary assistance, such as shelter, medical, psychological, and legal aid; ensure identified victims are not punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; establish partnerships with relevant international organizations and NGOs in source countries to ensure the safe and voluntary repatriation of trafficking victims; train law enforcement, security, and other government officials on how to identify trafficking, and measures to protect victims; and expand existing efforts to increase public awareness of trafficking, including on the differences between human smuggling and trafficking.

Prosecution

The Algerian government made minimal efforts to address human trafficking through law enforcement means during the reporting period. Algeria prohibits all forms of trafficking under Section 5 of its criminal code, enacted in March 2009. Prescribed penalties under this statute range from three to 10 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed under Algerian law for other serious crimes, such as rape. During the year, the government reported investigating and prosecuting offenders under the trafficking law, though it was unclear whether these were human trafficking or smuggling cases, the latter of which appear not to come within the scope of the trafficking in persons law. In March 2012, three individuals were convicted under the illegal immigration law of smuggling illegal immigrants from Arzew, Algeria, to Morocco en route to Europe. According to Algerian officials, those prosecuted sought to keep the immigrants' passports and extort higher transportation fees from them. It was not clear whether the three were involved in human trafficking. In 2011, an Algerian man was sentenced in absentia to 10 years' imprisonment under Algeria's anti-trafficking law for operating a network that moved sub-Saharan migrants from Algeria to Morocco en route to Europe, which was also not clearly a trafficking case. Two suspected human trafficking investigations were reportedly ongoing at the end of the reporting period, but it is unclear whether these were cases of trafficking or smuggling. The National Police and National Gendarmerie are reportedly involved in efforts to combat sex trafficking and forced labor, but they reported no knowledge of trafficking cases in southern Algeria. Nonetheless, some African village "chairmen" have close ties to the Algerian police, and previous reporting has indicated that some police have released arrested women in prostitution and sex trafficking victims back to their pimps. The government provides and funds anti-trafficking sessions for National Police and National Gendarmerie officials as a part of their routine training. In October 2011, the National Police provided a training course on organized crime and human trafficking for 60 police officers.

Protection

The Government of Algeria made no discernible progress in protecting victims of trafficking over the last year. It did not develop or employ systematic procedures for the identification of trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as foreign women arrested for prostitution or undocumented migrants. NGOs reported that some trafficking victims were jailed for unlawful acts committed as a result of their being trafficked – such as engaging in prostitution or lacking adequate immigration documentation. Similarly, NGOs indicated that if a prostitution operation becomes too public, police will arrest women in prostitution and deport them through Algeria's southern border, making no attempt to identify potential sex trafficking victims. Security officials in Tamanrasset reported that 8,097 illegal immigrants were picked up and deported from Algeria during this reporting period. Among these immigrants, 241 were arrested for crimes, three of which were charged with prostitution. Security officials made no effort to screen or identify these immigrants for indications of trafficking, nor did they provide protection or refer these victims to service facilities. NGOs reported that deported migrants, some of whom may have been trafficking victims, received a liter of milk and some bread and were transported to desert borders with Mali and Niger where – on occasion – they were received by officials from other countries. NGOs reported that in some cases, migrants died in the Saharan desert. The government, on the other hand, reported that undocumented migrants detained in Tamanrasset spend a week in a detention center where they receive three meals a day and medical care if needed, before being deported to neighboring countries to the south. As of January 2012, the Algerian government ceased returning illegal immigrants to Mali due to unrest in the country. The Ministries of Justice and Social Solidarity, in partnership with NGOs, conducted three training events in June 2011 to a total of 200 magistrates and medical professionals. The trainings covered how to identify and respond to abuse in the workplace and human trafficking situations.

The government did not provide foreign victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they faced retribution or hardship. The government did not provide counseling or legal services to victims, nor did it refer victims to other potential service providers. There were no government-operated shelters, and civil society groups were prohibited from operating any such shelters because they would be penalized for harboring undocumented migrants; however, NGOs operated care facilities for vulnerable populations, such as abandoned women, and these were accessible to female trafficking victims. Government-operated health clinics continued to be available for trafficking victims, and some victims used these services; however, a number of victims were either not aware of these clinics or declined to use them due to fear of deportation. There is no formal program to encourage trafficking victims to participate in investigations or prosecutions of trafficking offenders.

Prevention

The Algerian government engaged in minimal prevention efforts during the reporting period. The government conducted a public awareness campaign on trafficking in persons. In June 2011, the government organized and funded three seminars in major Algerian cities to raise awareness among youth on legal rights in the workplace with an emphasis on detecting trafficking in persons and workplace abuse. The government did not have a formal anti-trafficking policy or a national plan of action to complement its anti-trafficking law. It did not attempt to forge effective anti-trafficking partnerships with civil society organizations. The government did not take measures to establish the identity of the populations most at risk of being trafficked. Press articles during the reporting period noted that clients were arrested when police broke up prostitution rings, which can reduce the demand for commercial sex acts; however, some of the people in prostitution also arrested in these raids may have been sex trafficking victims. The government reports that there is an inter-ministerial group dedicated to trafficking issues, but no evidence suggests that it regularly meets or coordinates trafficking efforts, nor is data available to confirm this group's makeup, authority, or date of establishment.

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