ALGERIA: Tier 3
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. Civil society groups report Algeria is increasingly becoming a destination for both undocumented migration and human trafficking. Criminal networks, which sometimes extend to sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, are involved in human trafficking and smuggling. Sub-Saharan African men and women, often en route to neighboring countries or Europe, enter Algeria voluntarily but illegally and frequently with the assistance of smugglers. Many of these migrants, unable to pay off smuggling fees once they arrive in Algeria, become indebted to traffickers. Female migrants may be forced into prostitution, domestic service, and begging. Diplomatic and NGO sources indicate that Nigerien female migrants begging in Algeria may be forced labor victims and often carry children sometimes rented from their mothers in Niger. Sub-Saharan African men endure domestic servitude; employers often confiscate their identification documents, coercing them to remain in the home to work. Illegal sub-Saharan migrants from Anglophone countries remain particularly vulnerable to forced labor and sex trafficking in Algeria, primarily due to poverty and language barriers. Foreign women and children, primarily sub-Saharan migrants, are forced into prostitution in bars and informal brothels; the traffickers are often the victim’s co-nationals. Algerian women, and to a much lesser extent children, endure sex trafficking in Algeria. In 2014, the media and an international NGO reported Vietnamese migrants were forced to work on construction sites for Chinese contractors in Algeria.
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 vigorously investigate or prosecute sex trafficking or forced labor crimes. It continued to conflate human trafficking and smuggling, and some officials denied that trafficking existed in the country. The government reported its first conviction ever under the anti-trafficking law, but it did not provide any details other than the nationality of the victim. As in previous years, the government did not identify victims among vulnerable groups and did not provide or refer victims to NGO-run protection services. Due to lack of victim identification procedures, trafficking victims were frequently subject to arrest and detention.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ALGERIA:
Investigate, prosecute, and convict sex and labor trafficking offenders, distinct from 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; train officials on these identification measures; establish a policy to ensure 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 care, psychological care, legal aid, and repatriation assistance, to all trafficking victims; provide support to and establish strong partnerships with NGOs or international organizations that offer protection services to trafficking victims; collaborate with relevant organizations and source country missions to ensure the safe and voluntary repatriation of foreign victims; and raise public awareness of trafficking, including on the differences between human trafficking and smuggling.
The government made minimal law enforcement efforts to address human trafficking. Algeria prohibits all forms of trafficking under Section 5 of its criminal code, enacted in February 2009. Prescribed penalties under this statute range from three to 10 years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Law No.14-01, adopted in February 2014, criminalizes the buying and selling of children under the age of 18 years, which provides prison terms of three to 20 years’ imprisonment for individuals and groups convicted of committing or attempting to commit this crime; however, this law is overly broad and could be interpreted to include non-trafficking crimes such as human smuggling or illegal adoption. The government maintained that human trafficking was not a significant concern in Algeria, and some officials, including law enforcement officers, denied the crime occurred in the country; this sentiment and lack of knowledge severely hindered law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking. It is unclear if the government has an effective system to collect and report anti-trafficking law enforcement data, and officials had difficulty distinguishing between human trafficking and smuggling crimes. From September to December 2014, the government reportedly investigated one potential trafficking case involving 19 Vietnamese nationals allegedly forced to work on a Chinese-contracted construction site; however, the government reported it did not find evidence of trafficking. Though police reportedly conducted an unknown number of investigations of begging, prostitution, and illegal immigration offenses—that could include potential trafficking crimes—it did not arrest any suspected trafficking offenders. The government reported it convicted a trafficker under the anti-trafficking law in December 2014 with a sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment; however, the government did not provide any details of the case except that the victim was an Algerian female. By law, Algerian courts must hear testimony from victims to convict suspected traffickers and are thus unable to secure a conviction if a victim has left the country. Despite reports of complicity, the government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking offenses. A local NGO reported police officers allegedly frequented establishments where women were forced into prostitution, yet there was no evidence to suggest the government investigated or prosecuted these officials. Though the General Directorate for National Security maintained six brigades of police officers specialized in illegal immigration and human trafficking, it was unclear whether they received adequate training on anti-trafficking measures.
The government made no progress in its efforts to identify or protect trafficking victims. With the exception of a female Algerian victim identified in the only prosecuted trafficking case from December 2014, the government did not report identifying other trafficking victims during the reporting period. It also did not develop or employ systematic procedures for the identification of trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as undocumented migrants and foreign women arrested for prostitution. Because of a lack of identification procedures, authorities reported difficulty identifying victims among large, close-knit migrant populations. In September 2014, an NGO referred to the government a potential forced labor case involving 19 Vietnamese nationals forced to work on a Chinese-contracted construction site; however, it is unclear if the police ever referred the individuals for any type of protection services. Government officials relied on victims to self-report abuses to authorities; however, NGOs reported trafficking victims among the migrant populations did not report potential trafficking crimes to the police for fear of arrest and deportation. Civil society organizations reported police frequently arrested and temporarily jailed trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking, such as engaging in prostitution or lacking legal immigration status. The government did not provide protective services, including shelter, to trafficking victims, nor did it have a formal mechanism to refer potential victims to protection services operated by civil society groups or NGOs. The government encouraged trafficking victims to participate in investigations or prosecutions of trafficking offenders. It is unclear if the government provided foreign victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they faced retribution or hardship.
The government made no progress in its efforts to prevent human trafficking. While the government’s inter-ministerial committee continued to meet monthly, it failed to take tangible anti-trafficking efforts, and some government officials continued to deny human trafficking existed in Algeria. Furthermore, the government did not conduct 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 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 is unclear if it made efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel.