Needs and responses
Algerians in exile
The current conflict has seen a marked diversification of the Algerian emigrant population, reducing the dominance of France as the principal destination country. Although France undoubtedly remains the most important foreign country for Algerians and continues to dominate cultural and political life in Algeria, large numbers of Algerians now live elsewhere. In fact, anecdotal evidence of Algerian populations all over the world is easy to encounter. Since 1990, Algerians have gone from being one of the most concentrated emigrant communities in the world to become far more widely dispersed. This diversification is due to both the nature of emigration over the past decade, and to the restrictive response of France, the most natural destination for Algerians.
Until the 1970s, most Algerian emigrants were working-class people in search of work. The huge majority went to France due to a combination of factors linked to the ex-colonial relationship. Emigration since the 1990s has been very different. Although only a minority of emigrants over the last decade have claimed political asylum, there can be little doubt that the generalised situation of violence in the country during that time has played a significant, if not dominant, role in any decision to leave. Many of those who have been targeted have been political leaders, intellectuals, journalists, academics, and other generally middle-class or professional people. Poorer sectors of society have certainly been affected, even singled out for individual persecution (hairdressers, for example, are specifically warned not to practise their profession in one GIA communiqué), but given the tight restrictions on reaching France, they have generally lacked the means of leaving the country. Over the last decade, emigration has therefore involved an educated, professional middle-class much more significantly than previous labour migration.
In 1990, 97 per cent of Algerians outside of Algeria were resident in France. There were over 600,000 Algerian nationals resident in France, and 200,000 more who were born in Algeria but had acquired French nationality. France imposed a visa requirement on Algerians in 1986, and in 1987 granted 571,993 visas to Algerians. By 1994, two years after the beginning of the conflict, this had fallen to just over 100,000. In August 1994, all French consulates in Algeria were closed, following a bomb attack, and Algerians had to apply directly to France. In 1996 only 40,000 visas were granted to Algerians, a fall of over 90 per cent over ten years. This figure has slowly risen since then, particularly since 2000, when the French embassy in Algiers reopened. Nevertheless, during the most difficult period of the conflict France clearly granted substantially fewer visas to Algerians than at other times.
The situation for Algerians requesting asylum in France was little better. From 1992 to 2002 17,172 Algerians requested asylum in France, though less than 500 were granted full refugee status (OFPRA, unpublished data). France also introduced a secondary form of protection called 'territorial asylum', which was designed specifically for Algerians. An estimated 12,000 Algerians have applied for territorial asylum since it was officially introduced in 1998, but a similarly tiny percentage has been recognised (exact figures are not available). It is clear that, despite introducing temporary exceptions to strict immigration legislation for Bosnians, Kurds, and Kosovans, successive French administrations from across the political spectrum have not been prepared to do the same for Algerians.
In the early 1990s, Germany received the overwhelming majority of refugees from the Algerian conflict. Applications in Germany peaked in 1993, when 11,262 Algerians requested asylum, almost 90 per cent of all the Algerians who requested asylum anywhere in that year. Germany received the majority of asylum applications in the EU from all nationalities at this time, but even by this standard the concentration of Algerian applications is surprising. A number of well-known FIS politicians were granted asylum in Germany in 1992, and Germany quickly acquired a reputation in Algeria for granting asylum to Islamists. This fact was often used by the Algerian government as evidence of an individual's involvement with terrorism. Like France, Germany did not recognise persecution from non-state agents, so people fleeing Algerian armed groups were rarely granted asylum, but unlike France, Germany was prepared to grant asylum to Islamist politicians who were fleeing the government but who were typically excluded from protection in France, simply on political grounds. France was very keen to prevent the arrival of individuals who may have been able to stir up radical political sentiments amongst the large Muslim population in France. From 1993 onwards, the number of Algerians claiming asylum in Germany fell off very steeply, with applications averaging barely more than 2,000 a year over the next ten years.
In 1992, no Algerians requested asylum in the UK, but from 1993 onwards this began to rise slowly. By 2002 a total of 11,085 Algerians had requested asylum in the UK, the third-highest total anywhere in the world after Germany and France. This is surprising, since the movement of Algerians to the UK cannot be explained by an existing community, as in France and, to a lesser extent, Germany; in 1991 the UK had an Algerian population of just over 3,000. Nor can it be explained by the generous application of the UK asylum policy, since, until 1998, Algerians had no more chance of receiving asylum in the UK than in France, and even when the recognition rate increased dramatically in 1998, this did not translate into more applications in the following years.
In contrast to France and Germany, the UK does recognise persecution by non-state agents and, though this is unlikely to have provided an attraction since it remains virtually unknown, Algerians are one of the groups particularly affected by this difference. The UK also granted asylum to several prominent Islamist leaders, and in the mid 1990s it gained a reputation, similar to Germany's, as a key centre for Islamist politics, and in some circles has been connected with terrorism. This is largely unwarranted, since the UK courts have demonstrated their willingness to use the exclusion clause, Article 1F of the 1951 Convention, to refuse asylum to individuals considered to be dangerous. A key case in the application of Article 1F involves an Algerian, 'T', who was a member of the GIA and who was refused asylum by the British House of Lords in 1996 on the grounds that he had taken part in a 'serious non-political crime'.
Movement to the UK is also a result of interest and ability in the English language, though it is not the case that most Algerians coming to the UK speak English (Collyer 2003a). Although there have traditionally been very few links between Algeria and the UK, since 1995 a number of significant business deals have been agreed between British and Algerian companies, most notably between Sonatrach and British Petroleum in December 1995 (Aïssaoui 2001); and official delegations of British companies make regular visits to Algeria, most recently in December 2003 ( Quotidien d'Oran, 8 December 2003).
- Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees in the UK: 'Refugee populations in the UK: Algerians', (Michael Collyer, 2003) http://www.icar.org.uk/pdf/ng003.pdf
- UK Amnesty: Algeria Newsletter http://www.amnesty-volunteer.org/uk/algeria/Newsletter.php
Rest of the European Union
Other EU countries have periodically received significant numbers of asylum seekers from Algeria over the past decade, though none approach the total numbers received in France, Germany, and the UK. Before the current conflict, small communities of Algerians existed in Belgium and the Netherlands, and both of these countries have received a total of around 5,000 asylum applications each from Algerians. Spain and Italy are both significant new destinations, although apart from 1998 and 1999 when Spain received over a thousand applications, they have both received only a hundred or so applications per year.
There has long been a sizeable Algerian population in Quebec, and Canada is the only country outside of Europe recorded as receiving a significant number of Algerian refugees, a total of 5,769 in the decade from 1992 to 2002. It is obviously far more difficult to return to Algeria from North America, and research suggests that Algerians who hope to return to Algeria prefer to seek refuge in Europe. More recently Algerians have reached the USA, although the number of asylum applications there is really not significant. It seems that Canada and especially the USA are more often destinations for the wealthy elite, who may even travel there initially for the purposes of education.
Rest of the world
There is anecdotal evidence of small Algerian communities in a wide range of countries. There appears to be a significant community in francophone West Africa, particularly Senegal. Eastern Europe is another destination confirmed by a number of reports. Unfortunately, no figures exist to judge the size of these groups, and they are likely to be very small. However, they do illustrate the urgency of departure for certain sectors of the Algerian population and the direct results of the increased stringency of immigration and asylum policy throughout the European Union.
Return to Algeria
Since France, Germany, and the UK do not gather statistical data on departures, it is very difficult to estimate the significance of voluntary return to Algeria. In common with most other migrant groups, it is rare to meet an Algerian emigrant who does not want, at some stage, to return to Algeria. In the period of optimism following Bouteflika's election, a growing number of Algerians who had spent some time abroad began to return, though anecdotal evidence suggests that this has levelled off a little once the slow pace of progress became clear. Of course, for shorter-term visits voluntary return is continually occurring; France now grants over 100,000 short visas a year to Algerians, the overwhelming majority of whom return within the thirty- or ninety-day period specified. Overall, however, it appears that Algeria remains a net country of emigration; the point has not been reached when more people are returning than are leaving, on a long-term basis.
Involuntary or forced return is a far more difficult question, and there are conflicting reports concerning the safety of deportees. Although most countries, including the UK and Germany, respected UNHCR's 1997 call for a moratorium on deportations to Algeria (UNHCR 1997), France did not, and during 1997 and 1998, the two worst years of the conflict, France deported 813 and 633 Algerians, respectively (Cimade 1999). Most European countries have started returning failed Algerian asylum seekers again, most recently the UK. A 2001 report by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada found that none of these countries had conducted a formal study of what happened to these individuals when they arrived in Algeria, but, based on research in Algeria, it went on to detail evidence that they were generally not mistreated. Other sources underline the importance of obtaining guarantees from the Algerian authorities, since it remains likely that asylum seekers who have fallen into one of the exclusion clauses will be poorly treated or tortured if they are returned to Algeria (Burgat 2001).
Refugees in Algeria
When asked about Algerian refugees living elsewhere in the world, members of the Algerian government often highlight the number of refugees living in Algeria. Estimates of the precise number of refugees in Algeria vary widely, but there is little doubt that it exceeds the number of Algerians who have officially requested asylum in Europe and North America, even if not the total number of Algerians who have left the country over the last decade. The huge majority of refugees in Algeria are Saharawis, who have been living in camps near the town of Tindouf in the south-west of Algeria since the mid 1970s. Although the Algerian government has been comparatively generous to the Saharawis, their situation is still far from ideal, and other refugee groups who have arrived more recently from sub-Saharan African are generally not well treated.
There is remarkable disagreement over the precise number of Saharawi refugees in Algeria. They all live in camps in the area of Tindouf, extremely isolated in the far south-west of the country, near the Moroccan border. The Algerian government consistently cites a figure of 165,000 Saharawis in the camps, and UNHCR also uses this figure. The Moroccan government, on the other hand, argues that this figure is inflated for political reasons, and has come up with a (doubtless equally political) figure of 20,000 to 30,000. The US Committee for Refugees visited the camps in 2000 and, although they were unable to carry out anything like an ordered count, they refer to 80,000 Saharawis. Amnesty International also use a figure midway between the Moroccan and Algerian governments: 100,000. For a population that is so clearly demarcated by their isolation in an otherwise virtually deserted corner of Algeria, this range of estimates is surprising, but gives some indication of the political significance of the Saharwi refugees in Algeria for relations between Algeria and Morocco as well as for the future of the Western Sahara. The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has pre-registered 129,863 refugees from the camps for the purposes of voting, so it seems likely that the true figure is closer to the upper end of these estimates.
There are four main areas of settlement for Saharwis south of the town of Tindouf. These areas are a considerable distance apart, and each contains a number of separate camps. The camps are all administered by the Polisario Front ( Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia El-Hamra y Rio de Oro) and effectively form a mini-state as part of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, which also covers the areas of the Western Sahara that are not occupied by Morocco. The Algerian government is totally open about the control of the Polisario over this area of Algeria, a unique situation in global refugee assistance. The camps date from 1975, when indigenous groups fled from Moroccan and Mauritanian forces entering the Western Sahara as Spanish colonial forces withdrew. The Polisario reached agreement with Mauritania in 1979, but the dispute with Morocco over the sovereignty of the Western Sahara has continued to sour relations between Morocco and Algeria.
Algeria has had observer status in the continuing UN-sponsored negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front, and the tremendous influence that Algeria is able to exert over the Polisario has given it a key role in these negotiations. Since 1999 MINURSO has attempted to negotiate an agreement to identify those people who would be eligible to vote in a referendum to determine the future of the disputed territory. The most recent plan, published in May 2003, abandoned the idea of a referendum entirely after repeated failure to reach agreement on the issue of voter eligibility. Instead it put forward the idea of an initial period of autonomy for the Western Sahara within Morocco. This was rejected by Morocco, the Polisario, and Algeria, but, following what most Algerian newspapers considered to be extensive US pressure on Algeria (Ouazani 2003), Algeria and the Polisario accepted this plan. It was officially passed by the UN Security Council on 31 July 2003 (Resolution 1495), though Morocco remains firmly opposed. The technique of using Algeria as an intermediary in this manner is likely to remain important given the renewed importance of relations with the USA for the current Algerian administration.
Local integration is not an option for the Saharawi refugees, since conditions locally do not allow them to be self-sufficient and they are likely to remain dependent on international assistance until other solutions can be found. UNHCR reports that the vast majority of people in the camps are women, children, and elderly people (UNHCR 2003). Though disease, malnutrition, and access to water are vastly improved since the dramatic situation in the 1970s, life in the camps remains extremely harsh, and concerns have recently been expressed about the quality of water and supplies of food ( BBC News, 29 August 2002). Amnesty International has raised concerns about the freedom of movement of Saharawis within Algeria. They are certainly constrained by resources, since the camps operate a virtually money-free society; and, given the employment situation in the rest of Algeria, it is virtually impossible for them to find work elsewhere. However, there are also reports of restrictions imposed on their movement by both the Algerian authorities and the Polisario leaders, who are obviously keen that as many people as possible remain in the camps (Amnesty International 2003c).
- US Committee for Refugees: Algeria country report http://www.refugees.org/world/countryrpt/africa/2003/algeria.cfm
- Western Sahara Online http://www.wsahara.net/
- Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic http://www.arso.org/03-0.htm
- CIA Factbook: Western Sahara http://www.cia.gov/cia/publication/factbook/geos/wi.html
- Algerian ministry of foreign affairs: chronology of Western Sahara http://www.mae.dz/index.asp?rub=2&ntitre=218
- UN Security Council Resolution 1495 http://ods-dds-ny.org/doc.UNDOC/GEN/N03/447/80/PDF/N0344780.pdf
Other refugee groups
In addition to the Saharawis, there are an estimated 4,000 Palestinian refugees living in Algeria. Because of their tiny number, they do not face the same barriers to integrating into mainstream society as they do in the Middle East. Over the last few years, Algeria has also become a significant transit country for refugees from further south attempting to reach Europe. The difficulties of crossing the Sahara are highlighted by occasional reports of the death of groups of refugees in the Sahara from hunger or thirst. UNHCR is the asylum-granting authority in Algeria, and all refugees recognised by UNHCR are also recognised by the Algerian government. Despite the prolonged insecurity in the country, about a hundred refugees per year have been claiming asylum to UNHCR Algeria in recent years. In 2000, 90 per cent were recognised (UNHCR 2001). It seems likely that this represents only a tiny fraction of the potential numbers of refugees, since, due to the conflict, UNHCR has only a tiny presence outside of the Tindouf camps and works mainly through local partners. The inclusion of non-Algerian nationals in the recent EU readmission agreement with Algeria also indicates that Algeria is considered to be a significant transit country for migrants to the EU. Reports from Algerian NGOs suggest some concern that individuals wishing to claim asylum are treated as illegal immigrants and deported. UNHCR's Country Operations Plan for Algeria for 2003 prioritises the effective application of the 1951 Convention and the establishment of national refugee legislation (UNHCR 2003).
Though much of the violence in Algeria has been indeterminate, a wide range of groups has been especially affected by the ongoing conflict. This section provides brief details of those most affected, but should not be taken as a definitive list, particularly since the situation is constantly changing.
Women have been targeted throughout the conflict by armed groups. Women with a more western lifestyle, or exercising professions of responsibility, such as school teachers, have been particularly targeted for individual attacks (USCR 1999). Attacks on women, especially rape, have also been used by armed groups as a weapon to terrorise entire populations (Lalami-Fates 1995). Although armed groups have been the most severe perpetrators of violence against women, government forces have dealt very severely with any women they consider associated with armed groups. Mobilisations in defence of the 'disappeared' typically involve female relatives, and there have been many reports of demonstrations being violently broken up. This tendency was increasing at the end of 2003. Algeria signed and ratified the UN Convention Eliminating All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1996. The Family Code was widely considered to be in breach of this convention (FIDH 1999). In November 2003, President Bouteflika announced a new national commission to 're-examine' the Family Code, but a number of observers have interpreted this move in the light of presidential elections in 2004 rather than any serious intention of reform (Hadid 2003).
- Rassemblement Algerien Contre la Hogra et pour les Droits des Algeriennes (RACHDA) (in French, Spanish, and Italian) http://www.nodo50.org/mujeresred/RACHDA.html
- Algerian government's report to UNDAW 1999 http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw20/algeria.htm
- Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l'Homme (FIDH), alternative report to the Algerian government's above, 1999 (in French) http://www.fidh.imaginet.fr/rapports/r273.htm
From 1993 onwards, the GIA began a policy of targeting journalists, academics, artists, writers, and any other prominent intellectual figure who criticised them in any way. The International Committee of Support for Algerian Intellectuals (CISIA) was set up in Paris to provide support to people targeted in this way. By the end of the 1990s, the CISIA offered a more general support role to Algerian refugees. A whole range of smaller-scale, locally based solidarity organisations have also developed, mainly in France, over the last decade (Lloyd 1999a; 1999b). Many of these, such as the association ' Acceuil et Soutien des Exilés Algériens', founded in Marseille, have been set up, often by recently arrived Algerians, to offer assistance to newly arrived refugees. Many Algerians who have left Algeria during the conflict describe themselves as 'exiles', a term that effectively captures their feelings of distance from Algeria and simultaneous alienation from the long-established community of Algerians, particularly in France. There are also solidarity organisations that campaign and collect financial or material support directly for those in Algeria (such as Solimed, in Paris); cultural associations (such as Planet DZ); and political campaigning groups focused on Algeria (such as Verité et Justice pour l'Algérie, founded by Nesroullah Yous). Many of these groups have been founded by 'intellectuals' recently arrived from Algeria who have brought a new dynamism and urgency to Algerian-focused associations in France, and have spread concerns across Europe and further afield.
Imazighen have always been an economically deprived minority in Algeria. Although they have not suffered a systematic pattern of social disadvantage and have occupied many top government positions, the way in which their socio-economic and cultural grievances have been treated by the Algerian regime provoked the rioting of spring 2001. Since then, Kabyles in particular have received ill-treatment at the hands of security forces and police.
Members and family of security forces and police
The security forces and police have been amongst the first victims of the armed groups from the beginning of the conflict. Even comparatively moderate groups such as the AIS focused their fighting on agents of the state, and more extreme groups (GIA, GSPC) deliberately targeted their families as well.
In Algeria homosexuality is punishable by a prison term of up to two years and a fine. Homosexuals may suffer harassment from security forces or society in general (Amnesty International 2003b). UNHCR has recognised that homosexuals who suffer ill-treatment and whose government is unwilling to offer protection should receive refugee status as members of a particular social group (UNHCR 2002).
Members and suspected members of armed groups and their families
Torture and ill-treatment remain widespread for those who are, or are suspected of being, involved with armed groups. Both Amnesty International and UNHCR have advised against the return of individuals linked to these groups (Amnesty International 2003b; UNHCR 1997).
The situation for civil society groups in Algeria has been slowly improving, though there are still severe restrictions in certain areas. As noted above, organisations working for the resolution of the situation of 'disappeared' people have had great difficulty receiving official recognition. Recent legislation has introduced severe penalties for defamation of the president, the army, or other public figures. Human rights organisations that have attempted to follow up reports from victims of human rights abuses have run into problems with this law. The president of the Relizane branch of the Algerian League for The Defence of Human Rights (LADDH) was recently sentenced to two years in prison for reporting statements of families of disappeared in the region who stated that they had seen the mayor and members of the state-armed militia arrest the men before they disappeared (Human Rights Watch 2003; LADDH 2003). Another member of LADDH has been released after serving two months, but the LADDH expressed concern that this would provoke self-censorship of human rights organisations (LADDH 2003). Amnesty International has raised concerns that labour unions other than the official General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) require authorisation from the Ministry of Labour (Amnesty International 2003b).
A number of explicitly opposition organisations are based overseas. These organisations are directly critical of the government or the army, and would not be permitted to operate from within the country. They typically publish information over the Internet in an attempt to embarrass or incriminate key officials or organise individuals, most frequently in France, to campaign against the Algerian regime (Silverstein 2001; Collyer 2003b). A group of dissident army officers based mainly in Madrid, called the Algerian Free Officers Movement (MAOL), is one of the most well known of these organisations. Algerian authorities link the organisation to extremist Islamist groups, but the MAOL deny this. Their material ranges in quality from the incisive to the apparently fabricated, but is nonetheless influential in Algeria. Their site has generated almost 2 million hits. A whole range of similarly politically focused NGOs operate overseas, particularly in France, in an attempt to galvanise public opinion against the Algerian regime, though most are too small to operate their own web site.
Algerian expatriate groups also focus on less explicitly political issues such as solidarity campaigns or cultural events. The Paris-based cultural organisation 'Planet DZ' is an excellent example of an initiative of recent Algerian emigrants that has had a widespread positive effect on the Algerian community and on the Paris cultural scene more generally. There are literally hundreds of small cultural organisations, again, particularly concentrated in France. The May 2003 earthquake provoked a tremendous display of solidarity from the Algerian community around the world, and small organisations sprang up to gather money or materials to send to the affected areas.
- Algerian Free Officers Movement (MAOL) (in English, French, and Arabic) http://www.anp.org
- Planet DZ (in French) http://www.planet-dz.com/default.htm
Though in recent years the USA and the European Union, amongst other international actors, have played a growing role in Algeria, French influence remains primordial. Colonialism obviously resulted in close cultural, historical, and linguistic ties; if anything, this influence has intensified in recent years. Despite the network of personal ties between France and Algeria, at an official level Franco-Algerian relations were distinctly cool for a number of years after independence, certainly during the years of Boumedienne's presidency. After the cancellation of the elections in 1992, despite some minor huffing and puffing about the democratic process, the French government, and the EU generally, made it clear that they were thankful to have avoided the creation of a potentially hostile radical Islamist government in a neighbouring state. As they saw it, an Islamist victory would have meant significant migration to Europe, particularly France. In 1993, when defeat for the Algerian regime appeared conceivable, the French government began a massive programme of mostly military aid. Franco-Algerian relations have continued to warm, although since the attacks in France in 1995 the French government has been less publicly supportive of the Algerian regime (see The current conflict). In 2000 Bouteflika visited France, the first-ever official visit to France by an Algerian president, and in 2001 Chirac visited Algeria, only the second French president to have done so in an official capacity.
This renewed enthusiasm in France for the Franco-Algerian relationship has been partly explained as a desire to preserve the privileged status of France in Algeria in the face of the growing US influence. Bouteflika has made several visits to the USA during his presidency, and in 2001 and 2002 the US navy carried out joint training operations with Algerian armed forces. Finally, in December 2002 the announcement of a significant arms deal between the USA and Algeria, the first ever, was considered as a major public relations victory for the Algerian regime, overcoming previous international disapproval of its harsh counter-terrorism strategy (Quandt 2002).
The involvement of the European Union in Algeria has evolved considerably during the conflict. Initially it was clear that France was taking a lead in the EU's response, but recently there is more evidence that the EU is acting independently (Morisse-Schilbach 1999). In 1992 the various EU institutions made relatively wide-ranging general criticism of the way in which the elections had been cancelled. There was evidence in 1994 and 1995 that the EU was prepared to use its relatively modest aid to Algeria to attempt to influence the government's behaviour, though this proved relatively ineffective. Following the massacres of 1997, the EU took a more direct role. In January 1998 a troika from the Council, consisting of ministerial-level representatives of the UK, Luxembourg, and Austria, visited Algeria and issued a report in June. A delegation from the European Parliament also visited and issued a similar, though slightly more critical, report a few weeks later.
Algeria is a signatory to the Euro-Mediterranean agreement, signed at 1995 in Barcelona, which commits it to broadly defined goals of respect for human rights. In 2002 the EU and Algeria ratified the Association Agreement by which this process is implemented. The main focus of this agreement is the construction of a Mediterranean free-trade area, but it sets up a framework for further discussion of human rights and migration initiatives (European Commission 2002). Amnesty International was particularly critical of the vague way in which human rights is referred to in this agreement, and has argued that more specific targets would have more effect than vague principles of respect (Amnesty International 2002). The effects of this agreement on EU-Algerian relations remain to be seen. In 2003 the EU also completed negotiations for a re-admission agreement with Algeria, which will oblige Algeria to repatriate Algerians or third-country nationals who can be 'validly assumed' to have entered EU territory from Algeria. This agreement will take precedence over any bilateral agreements that Member States have negotiated.
The United Nations has had rather less influence on Algeria than the EU. Algeria has regularly completed its reports to the UN Human Rights Commissioner. In February 1998, soon after the two European delegations visited Algeria, a specially appointed panel of eminent persons from the UN also visited, issuing a highly uncritical report a few months later. Since 2000 the UN working group on enforced disappearances has been waiting for a reply to its request to visit Algeria. Both the UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, are also awaiting replies to long-standing requests to visit Algeria. The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief visited in September 2002. The report praised the Algerian authorities for fully co-operating with the visit, but highlights concerns about the use of religion as a political tool by certain groups (UN Economic and Social Council 2003). Algeria has now submitted two reports to the UN Economic and Social Council since its ratification of the Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. The response to the report of 2001 raised a number of positive points, such as Algeria's accession to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, in 1996, but also raised a wide range of concerns.
Algeria has always been a significant member of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union, and retains good relations with other African states. Morocco is perhaps the only exception, though Morocco has not been an OAU member due to the OAU position on the Western Sahara. Algeria and Morocco have a long-running border dispute, and the border is frequently closed. In the most recent episode, Morocco closed the border in 1994 following a gun attack on tourists in Marrakech that was blamed on Algerian extremists. Diplomatic links do exist, and though they are certainly frosty, Bouteflika attended the funeral of Hassan II in 1999, and there are regular ministerial meetings.
- Algerian ministry of foreign affairs http://www.mae.dz
- French ministry of foreign affairs: relations with Algeria http://diplomatie.gouv.fr/actu/actu.asp?DOS=12473
- EU External Relations: Barcelona Declaration http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/euromed/bd.htm; Algeria http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/algeria/intro/index.htm
- Commission Mandate to Negotiate Readmission Agreement with Algeria http://www.statewatch.org/news/2003/may12falgeriamdte.html
- UN report of eminent panel, 1998 http://www.un.org/NewLinks/dpi2007/index.html
- UN report of Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, 2002 http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf/AllSymbols/8EFF226E6CB5860AC1256CF000345E5B/$File/G0310111.pdf?OpenElement
- UN Human Rights Committee: conclusions on Algeria's 1998 submission http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CCPR.C.79.Add.95.En?Opendocument
- Algerian embassy in USA http://www.algeria-us.org
- Permanent mission of Algeria to the UN http://www.algeria-un.org