1. The Committee considered
the second periodic report of Algeria (CCPR/C/101/Add.1) at its 1681st,
1682nd, 1683rd and 1684th meetings, held on 20 and 21 July 1998 (CCPR/C/SR.1681-1684),
and adopted the following concluding observations at its 1696th meeting
(CCPR/C/SR.1696), held on 29 July 1998.
2. The Committee commends
the State party for addressing some of the issues raised in the Committee's
concluding observations (CCPR/C/79/Add.1) following the examination of
Algeria's initial report (CCPR/C/62/Add.1) in 1992. It notes that Algeria's
second periodic report was submitted with a delay of more than two years.
While acknowledging that the report and subsequent submissions provided
information as to the laws and regulations adopted by the Algerian Government
to implement the provisions of the Covenant, the Committee observes that
it does not provide sufficient specific data on the prevailing human rights
crisis. The Committee regrets that many of its questions were not fully
answered by the delegation and welcomes Algeria's undertaking to submit
additional written information in response to questions raised by Committee
members during two days of dialogue, which was characterized by a sense
of solidarity by the Committee with the suffering of the Algerian people.
B. Factors and difficulties affecting the implementation of the Covenant
3. Widespread and indiscriminate
attacks against the civilian population, involving the loss of innumerable
human lives, and a general climate of violence heighten the responsibilities
of the State party to re-establish and maintain the conditions necessary
for the enjoyment and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms in
C. Positive factors
4. The Committee welcomes
the establishment of the National Observatory for Human Rights, and the
Médiateur de la République (Ombudsman of the Republic), with competence
to receive complaints from individuals about human rights violations.
5. The Committee commends
the establishment of the National Committee for the Preservation and the
Promotion of Women, and the increased participation of women in public
D. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations
6. The Committee is appalled
at the widespread massacre of men, women and children in a great number
of villages and towns. The Committee is also seriously concerned that
women have been the victims of not only killings, but also of abduction,
rape and severe violence. The Committee is also concerned at the lack
of timely or preventive measures of protection to the victims from police
or military officials in the vicinity and at the persistent allegations
of collusion of members of the security forces in terrorist attacks.
(c) in all cases of massacres
to conduct an independent enquiry into the conduct of the security
forces, from the lowest to the highest levels, and where appropriate,
to subject them to penal and disciplinary sanctions.
7. The Committee is further
concerned at the less than satisfactory responses from the delegation,
with regard to innumerable reports of arbitrary or extrajudicial executions
of individuals, some while in custody, others under suspicion of being
associated in one way or another with terrorist groups.
8. The Committee is concerned
about the meagre information provided by the Government, both in its report
and its oral presentation and in its responses to questions raised by
the Committee, regarding the organization of "legitimate defence groups",
their official recognition, competence, supervision and training. Serious
questions arise as to the legitimacy of the transfer of such power by
the State to private groups, especially in view of the power which the
State itself confers on them and the very real risk to human life and
security entailed by the exercise of that power, coupled with the risks
of unsanctioned abuse.
The Committee recommends
that the Government urgently take measures to maintain within its
police and defence forces the responsibility of maintaining law and
order and the protection of the life and security of the population
and, in the meantime, to ensure that these defence groups are brought
under the strict and effective control of responsible State organs,
and that they are promptly brought to justice in the case of abuse.
9. Notwithstanding the denial
by the Algerian delegation that torture is not practised by certain authorities,
the Committee is deeply concerned over persistent allegations of systematic
torture. The Committee deplores the apparent routine acceptance by trial
court judges of confessions extracted under duress, even when there is
medical evidence of torture, and calls on the State party to take all
necessary measures to redress this situation.
10. Given the unsatisfactory
responses of the delegation and the number of complaints from family members,
the Committee is gravely concerned at the number of disappearances and
at the failure of the State to respond adequately, or indeed at all, to
such serious violations. Disappearances may involve the right to life
consecrated under article 6 of the Covenant, and where the disappeared
individuals are still alive and are kept incommunicado, disappearances
may involve the right guaranteed under article 16 of the Covenant which
provides that every individual shall have the right to recognition everywhere
as a person before the law. In this situation these individuals are also
deprived of their capacity to exercise all the other rights, without any
recourse, recognized under the Covenant. Furthermore, disappearances violate
article 7 with regard to the relatives of the disappeared.
The Committee further
requests the State party, in its next periodic report, to give an
account of the number of cases reported, the investigations conducted
and the results achieved.
11. The Committee has noted
that, while the Emergency Decree of 1992 relating to "subversion of terrorism"
has been repealed, some of its provisions have been incorporated in the
normal penal laws. Those provisions prescribe an increased number of offences
for which the death penalty may be imposed; a lowering of the age to 16
for which a person may be liable to such a penalty; an extension from
2 to 12 days for which a suspect may be administratively detained incommunicado;
and a definition of "terrorist" or "subversive" activities which lends
itself to abuse.
12. The National Observatory
for Human Rights has conceded in its annual report for 1996 that places
of detention exist which are outside the control legally stipulated by
law. This reinforces allegations from many sources on detention of people
who are not registered and brought before the courts, as required both
by Algerian law and article 9 of the Covenant.
(b) that complaints about
such arrest or detention be given immediate attention and that relatives,
friends or lawyers of persons detained are able to receive an effective
remedy, which includes reviewing the legality of the detention;
13. With regard to the guarantee
of equal treatment of women in the enjoyment of all the rights guaranteed
to them, the Committee notes the statement made by the delegation that
the interpretative declaration concerning article 23, paragraph 4, of
the Covenant made by Algeria on ratification of the Covenant would become
obsolete with time. The Committee also notes that progress has been achieved
by women in public life and civil society. Nevertheless, the Family Code
still contains important areas of inequality which are not in conformity
with articles 3, 16, 23 and 26 of the Covenant in respect of which Algeria
has made no reservations. In this regard, the Committee notes that under
the Family Code, a woman's consent to her first marriage is generally
mediated by a male guardian, and that this guardian can deny the woman
her choice of a husband. It notes also that the Family Code provides for
the husband to be the head of the family and for the possibility of polygamous
marriage, and that it precludes a woman from marrying a non-Muslim while
the same restriction does not apply to a man.
14. With regard to the judiciary,
the Committee is concerned that the application of certain executive decrees
of 1992 regulating nomination, promotion and dismissal of judges, compromises
its independence. It is also concerned at the fact that judges enjoy immovability
only after 10 years of work.
15. The Committee notes the
statement of the delegation that the intention underlying the Arabic Language
Decree which came into force on 5 July 1998 was to reinforce the status
which that national language should possess. The Committee notes, however,
that the compulsory, immediate and exclusive use of that language in all
areas of public activity would have for effect to impede large sections
of the population who use Berber or French in the enjoyment of the rights
guaranteed under articles 19, 25, 26 and 27 of the Covenant.
16. The Committee welcomes
the abolition of the State-controlled "reading committees" stationed at
publishing establishments as well as the formal directives prohibiting
the publication of unauthorized information relating to "security issues".
The Committee, however, notes that in practice numerous restrictions still
persist with regard to freedom of expression dealing with, for example,
coverage of allegations and discussion of corruption and criticism of
government officials and of material regarded as an expression of sympathy
or encouragement of subversion, all of which gravely prejudice the right
of the media to inform the public and the right of the public to receive
information. The Committee is also deeply concerned at the threats against
and assassinations of journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers.
17. The Committee remains
concerned that the State party's restriction under Law 97-09 on the right
to form political parties, effectively prohibits political activists the
right to associate with one another or to vote for representatives of
their choice, in view of the wide range of proscribed categories (religious,
linguistic, racial, gender related, regional, corporatist). Since taking
effect, this law has been invoked to ban or prevent the legalization of
more than 30 parties.
18. The Committee observes
that, although Algeria became a party to the Optional Protocol in 1989,
very few communications have been addressed to the Committee, in spite
of the widespread human rights crisis and consequent violations which
have occurred in the last decade. This situation indicates that the people
in Algeria may not be aware of their right to address communications to
The Committee recommends
that urgent steps be taken by Algeria to make known to the public,
the universities, the legal community and, particularly, to the non-governmental
human rights organizations, the rights protected under the Covenant
and the fact that individuals whose rights have been violated may
submit communications to the Committee.
19. The Committee draws to
the attention of the Government of Algeria the provisions of paragraph
6 (a) of the Guidelines Regarding the Form and Contents of Periodic Reports
from State parties, and requests that its next periodic report, due in
June 2000, should contain material which responds to all the present concluding
observations. The Committee further requests that Algeria's second periodic
report and these concluding observations be widely disseminated among
the public at large in all parts of Algeria.