Algeria is a transit and, to a lesser extent, destination and source country for women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking and, to a lesser extent, men subjected to forced labor. 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 neighboring countries or Europe. Some of these women may be forced into prostitution, domestic service, and begging. Some sub-Saharan African men, mostly from Mali, are forced domestic workers; homeowners often confiscate their identification documents, a common method of coercion. Sub-Saharan illegal immigrants from Anglophone countries remain particularly vulnerable to forced labor and sex trafficking in Algeria, primarily due to language barriers. Criminal networks, which sometimes extend to sub-Saharan Africa and to Europe, are involved in smuggling and human trafficking. Some foreign women and children, primarily sub-Saharan migrants, are forced into prostitution in bars and informal brothels in Tamanrasset and Algiers; the traffickers are typically members of the victim’s own nationality. The “chairmen,” or leaders, of the “African villages”—small non-Algerian ethnic enclaves located in and around the southern city of Tamanrasset—may be among those responsible for forcing some women into prostitution. Some Algerian women and children are also forced into prostitution in Algeria. Civil society groups believe that Algeria is increasingly becoming a destination for both undocumented migration and trafficking.
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. The government did not demonstrate efforts to investigate, prosecute, or convict perpetrators of sex trafficking and forced labor. The government continued to conflate human trafficking and smuggling. The government, thus, treated trafficking victims as criminals or illegal immigrants; trafficking victims were frequently subject to arrest, detention, and deportation. Furthermore, the government lacked adequate measures to identify and provide protection services to victims of trafficking. The government minimized and denied trafficking in the face of evidence to the contrary from civil society and others.
Recommendations for Algeria:
Investigate, prosecute, and convict sex and labor trafficking offenders, distinct from the crime of human smuggling, and punish them with imprisonment; establish formal procedures to guide officials in the identification of victims of forced labor, forced prostitution, and child prostitution, particularly among illegal migrant communities; establish a policy to ensure that identified and suspected victims are not punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking; establish and implement victim referral procedures, and provide appropriate protection services, including shelter, medical, psychological care, legal aid, and repatriation assistance, to all victims of trafficking; establish a shelter dedicated specifically to the needs and appropriate care of men, women, and children who are victims of forced labor and sex trafficking; provide support to relevant NGOs or international organizations that offer protection services to victims of trafficking; establish strong partnerships with relevant organizations and community leaders among foreign migrant populations to ensure that trafficking victims are properly identified and receive appropriate protection and assistance; collaborate with relevant organizations and NGOs in source countries to ensure the safe and voluntary repatriation of foreign trafficking victims; train officials, including law enforcement, healthcare and social workers, and labor inspectors, who may come in direct contact with trafficking victims, on appropriate measures to identify suspected victims using victim identification guidelines; and improve efforts to increase public awareness of trafficking, including on the differences between human smuggling and trafficking.
The Algerian government made minimal efforts to address human trafficking through law enforcement means. 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 for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government did not have an effective system to collect and report anti-trafficking law enforcement data, and government officials had difficulty distinguishing between human trafficking and smuggling data. Though the government reported prosecuting trafficking offenders in this reporting period, it did not provide details on such cases to indicate whether they were human trafficking cases, distinct from smuggling or other similar crimes. For another year, the government did not report any convictions of trafficking offenders. By law, Algerian courts must hear testimony from the victim in order to convict the trafficking offender; courts are thus unable to secure a conviction if a victim has already left the country. The government did not report efforts to investigate or punish government employees complicit in trafficking-related offenses. In June 2013, the government, in coordination with an international organization, partially funded and provided the space for an anti-trafficking training—for Algerian judges.
The government made no discernible progress in protecting victims of trafficking; proactive victim identification efforts remained weak. 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; government officials relied on victims to self-report abuses to authorities. Likewise, the government did not have a formal victim referral procedure in place to provide victims with appropriate protection and assistance. Some trafficking victims were jailed for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being subjected to human trafficking, such as engaging in prostitution or lacking adequate immigration documentation. The government reported conducting regular raids on migrant communities—in which some may be trafficking victims—where authorities arrested and detained illegal migrants for a short period and then released them; some were returned to the Algerian border to be deported. Likewise, the government reported that undocumented migrants detained in Tamanrasset spent a week in a detention center before being deported to neighboring countries to the south. There was no indication that authorities attempted to identify potential victims of trafficking among these vulnerable migrant populations.
The government did not report identifying any trafficking victims in this reporting period. The government did not operate shelters for trafficking victims, and civil society groups were prohibited from operating any such shelters under threat of penalty for harboring undocumented migrants. NGOs operated care facilities for vulnerable populations, such as abandoned women, which could be accessible to some female trafficking victims; there was no indication that any victims received services. Government-operated health clinics continued to be available for trafficking victims, and some victims reportedly used these services; however, most victims were either unaware of these clinics, declined to use them for fear of deportation, or were arrested while attempting to seek assistance at health centers, particularly if they were illegal migrants. There was no formal program to encourage trafficking victims to participate in investigations or prosecutions of trafficking offenders. The government did not provide counseling, legal services, or long-term residency benefits to victims. Though a 2012 amendment to the anti-trafficking law allows the government to provide financial assistance and free telecommunications resources to trafficking victims, the government has never reported providing these services to victims. The government did not provide foreign victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they faced retribution or hardship.
The Algerian government made no significant progress in its prevention efforts. Government officials denied that human trafficking existed in Algeria. Although the government’s inter-ministerial anti-trafficking committee continued to meet monthly, the government did not have a formal policy to complement its anti-trafficking law; the government reportedly had a national plan of action, though it did not disclose the details of the plan. The government did not conduct an anti-trafficking public awareness or educational campaigns, and it did not attempt to forge effective anti-trafficking partnerships with civil society organizations. The government did not report taking any measures to reduce the demand for child sex tourism among Algerians traveling abroad. The government took actions to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, but it did not make efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor.