Algeria: Human rights abuses acute as change promised

The Amnesty International delegation, having returned to Algeria for the human rights organisation's first visit to the country for two and half years, concluded a two-week visit today, after conducting high-level meetings with government officials, the official human rights commission, representatives of human rights and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's associations, and individuals in Algiers and elsewhere.

The delegation, presenting its findings at a press conference in Algiers today, recalled its last visit in November 2000, and noted greater openness for public debate and engagement with human rights issues in the country. In frank discussions with government officials, the delegation was informed of a series of reforms being planned with the stated intention of moving towards greater transparency and the rule of law.

Head of the Amnesty International delegation Roger Clark said:

'These planned reforms may signal an important development in the long-term protection of human rights in Algeria, but the effectiveness and legitimacy of this promise of change would be undermined if past and continuing human rights violations remain unresolved, and if existing safeguards against such violations as torture and secret detention are not scrupulously implemented.'

The Amnesty International delegation expressed concern that political violence in the country continues to cause civilian deaths, albeit at lower levels than in previous years. Torture remains prevalent and systematic in nearly all cases involving alleged links to what the government describes as 'terrorist' activities.

Amnesty International pointed out that thousands of families continue to suffer the agony of not knowing the fate of relatives who were arrested by security forces or abducted by armed groups or state-armed militias over the past decade. Impunity for these crimes remains one of the human rights organisation's gravest concerns with regard to Algeria.

The delegation noted a continuing failure to adequately investigate human rights violations - including the killing of over 100,000 individuals in the past decade, and to bring to justice the perpetrators of past and ongoing violations.

Roger Clark added:

'We are calling on the authorities to urgently turn their attention to these continuing serious concerns. The families of victims deserve an end to the anguish of uncertainty, and cannot wait for the promise of long-term reform to be realised.'

Further information about Algeria is available online .

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