University of Minnesota

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination, Algeria, U.N. Doc. A/48/18, paras. 66-85 (1993).




Forty-second session


Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination


66. The Committee considered the tenth periodic report of Algeria (CERD/C/209/Add.4) at its 962nd, 963rd and 983rd meetings, held on 4 and 18 March 1993 (see CERD/C/SR.962, 963 and 983).

67. The report was introduced by the representative of the State party who underlined his country's support for the fight against racism and racial discrimination and, in particular, against apartheid.

68. The representative stated that the Constitution adopted by referendum on 23 February 1989 contained new provisions providing for political pluralism, an independent judiciary and voting by secret ballot. It also prohibited all forms of racial discrimination, for which sanctions were foreseen in legislation. Although the current state of emergency represented a difficult period for Algeria, it in no way affected the country's traditional struggle against racial discrimination, nor the determination of the Algerian people to defend the cause of liberty, justice and equality.

69. Members of the Committee welcomed the report of the State party, which contained useful information on the constitutional and legislative basis for the implementation of the Convention. Members noted, however, that more information was needed on the actual application of the Convention, particularly in the courts, and on economic, social and demographic developments which had occurred in the country. Further information was needed on factors and difficulties encountered in the application of the Convention. Further information was also required regarding the composition of the population with regard to minorities, most notably Berbers, Tuaregs, Jews and the black population which inhabited the southern region of Algeria. With respect to the last-named group, it was pointed out that black Algerians appeared to be particularly disadvantaged in terms of access to housing and education. Members of the Committee also wished to know which minorities the Government recognized as such.

70. It was noted that important progress had been achieved in the application of the Convention since Algeria last presented a report in 1987, particularly as a result of the new Constitution adopted in 1989. In connection with the Constitution and national legislation in general, members wished to know what was the status of the Convention in the legal system. It was emphasized that the Convention should be accorded a status in Algerian domestic law superior to that of domestic legislation. Concern was expressed that the present state of emergency affected the exercise of fundamental rights.

71. With respect to article 2 of the Convention, members of the Committee wanted to know whether Algeria had adopted legislation expressly prohibiting racial discrimination and, if not, whether the Government was planning to do so. In that connection, members pointed out that the population in Algeria was sufficiently varied that special legislation on racial discrimination was necessary.

72. In regard to article 4, members of the Committee wished to know whether there had been acts of violence, or incitement to violence, directed against any particular racial or ethnic group; and whether racist organizations or propaganda had been declared illegal.

73. With regard to article 5 of the Convention, members wished to know whether there was discrimination in the field of employment. It was emphasized that statistical indicators on problems such as unemployment, delinquency and illiteracy were needed in order to determine the degree to which minorities had been socially integrated. Particular concern was expressed over the situation of the Berber minority and, in that connection, further information was requested on the extent to which they enjoyed the rights enumerated in article 5 of the Convention. Members expressed interest in the new national commission for human rights and wished to know how its members were appointed, how its independence was ensured and what role it played in addition to monitoring respect for human rights.

74. Concerning article 6 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to know how many complaints of racial discrimination had been received by the competent authorities and how many sentences had been handed down for acts of racism. More complete information was required in general on the application of the Convention in the courts and the jurisprudence that had developed as a result, and on the independence of the judiciary. Members emphasized the importance of ensuring that lawyers and judges were well acquainted with the provisions of the Convention.

75. With respect to article 7, members of the Committee wished to have further information on the availability of instruction in their language for linguistic minorities at the primary and secondary school levels. In particular, members wished to know whether the Berber language was taught in such schools.

76. Members of the Committee commended Algeria as one of the States parties that had made the declaration under article 14 of the Convention recognizing the competence of the Committee to receive communications from individuals and groups of individuals alleging that their rights under the Convention had been violated. However, in view of the fact that the Committee had as yet received no communications concerning Algeria, members of the Committee wished to know what steps had been taken to make known that article of the Convention to the general public.

77. Replying to the questions raised by members of the Committee, the representative of the State party stated that the Algerian population was composed of Arabs, Berbers, Mozabites and Tuaregs. The Berbers lived essentially in three regions: Kabylie, a region near Algiers, where around 4 million Berbers lived; Aures, in the eastern part of the country, where there were 8 to 9 million; and in the south, where there were an additional million. In view of the fact that the total population of Algeria numbered 23 million, it was difficult to consider the Berbers as a minority. They participated fully and on a basis of equality in Algerian life and were in no sense marginalized. With respect to their language, there was no discrimination. The Berber language, amazigh, was widely spoken in the regions where the Berbers lived, particularly in Kabylie. At the present time, however, the written language was not sufficiently structured for it to be taught in schools. There was ongoing research, particularly at the University of Tizi-Ouzou, in that regard, which would ultimately make such instruction possible. The nomads of the south, who were now often sedentary, were totally integrated and were in no way repressed. Refugees in southern Algeria were neither Algerian nor were they persecuted.

78. With respect to freedom of association, the prohibition by law of regionalist political parties needed to be understood within the context of conditions in Algeria at the time of independence. It should be recalled that the end of colonial rule had been achieved with difficulty and there had been threats of seccession and dismemberment of the nation when independence was achieved. In order to counter that tendency, regionalism was encouraged in terms of culture, but was discouraged as a platform for politics. There were currently 67 political parties in Algeria and over 20,000 associations of various kinds, which had full freedom to pursue their activities.

79. Concerning the monitoring of human rights, the Minister of Human Rights had taken office in 1992 but was subsequently replaced by the National Commission on Human Rights (Observatoire national des droits de l'homme). The Commission was under the direct authority of the President and its administrative and financial independence were guaranteed. Non-governmental organizations were represented on the Commission, as were the Ministers of Justice and Education and representatives of the bar. Its task was to protect the fundamental human rights of citizens and provide information about human rights. It submitted an annual report on the human rights situation to the President of the National People's Assembly, which was made public two months afterwards.

80. With respect to education, the representative stated that it had not yet been possible to provide school courses which familiarized students with the provisions of the Convention. At present, the State was more immediately concerned with the problem of simply providing education. The representative expressed surprise at the mention of discrimination allegedly encountered by five black foreign students at the University of Oran. That university, like others in Algeria, had trained many black African students, including diplomats, from other countries in the region. With regard to black Algerians, their numbers were limited and they encountered no racial discrimination, including at the university.

81. Many young Algerians living in France had acquired French nationality in addition to Algerian nationality. An intergovernmental accord permitted them to choose in which country they preferred to perform their military service. With regard to the request that the next report of Algeria include statistical indicators and other detailed information on the situation of minorities, the representative assured the Committee that he would forward that request to his Government.

Concluding observations

82. The Committee noted with interest the legislative and institutional changes which had occurred in Algeria in recent years which created the framework necessary for the respect of human rights in general and for preventing and combating racial discrimination.

83. The Committee expressed its appreciation of the spirit of openness and cooperation which characterized the report, as well as the dialogue with the representative of the Government, while expressing its concern at the difficulties of the current situation in Algeria.

84. Taking into account the fact that the report was oriented especially towards legislative texts, the Committee considered that the next report should contain more demographic and statistical information on social indicators reflecting, in particular, the situation of ethnic and racial groups, in particular Berbers and blacks, as well as on judicial or administrative decisions taken to give effect to the Convention. It was also considered necessary to clarify the effect of emergency measures taken by the Government with regard to the application of the Convention.

85. The Committee considered, in particular, that the next report should clarify the place of the Berber population in Algerian society with respect to identity, language, participation in public life and the social benefits provided for in article 5 of the Convention.



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