ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
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,
that more information was needed on the actual application of the
Convention, particularly in the courts, and on economic, social
demographic developments which had occurred in the country. Further
information was needed on factors and difficulties encountered
the application of the Convention. Further information was also
required regarding the composition of the population with regard
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
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
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
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.
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
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.