Algeria

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Persistent violations
  • Child labour[1]
  • Discrimination against children born out of wedlock and mothers of children who give birth out of wedlock[2]
  • Gender based discrimination within the family[3]
  • Unequal treatment of children of migrant workers[4]
  • Inadequacies in education provision[5]
  • Social security payments for the families of disappeared persons[6]
  • Violence against children, including domestic violence[7]
  • Corporal punishment[8]
  • Sexual violence[9]
  • Trafficking of children[10]
  • Children living on the streets[11]
  • Inadequate and inappropriate juvenile justice system[12]

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Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Migrant Workers
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Universal Periodic Review
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  11. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences
  12. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee against Torture



Introduction

The largest country in Africa, Algeria is located on the Mediterranean coast. Though violence has declined since the civil war of the 1990s, the country has been seriously affected by the military campaign of al-Qaeda in the Land of Islamic Maghreb. Trafficking of children is a particular problem in the country, which has become a transit point for the movement of children between Africa and Western Europe.


Geography

Algeria is located on the northwest coast of Africa on the Mediterranean Sea. The country is the largest in Africa in terms of land area and the tenth largest in the world. It shares borders with Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Tunisia. The capital city is Algiers.

Population and Language

The population of Algeria is 35.5 million. In the aftermath of independence the Algerian population decreased rapidly as many fled the country. The population has been rapidly increasing since then, almost doubling since 1980. Though population growth has now slowed, it has increased by 1.5 per cent annually over the past five years.[1].

The official language of Algeria is Arabic[2], but French and Amarzigh are widely spoken[3].

History and Politics

A violent and bloody war preceded Algeria's independence in 1962, followed by increasingly authoritarian rule that developed into a one party socialist State under the FLN (National Liberation Front). In 1989, the Constitution was amended to introduce a multi-party system with the first multi-party elections being held in 1991. Stability quickly deteriorated, however, and the country again descended into civil war. The current President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, emerged with the support of the army in 1999, and presided over the end of the civil war in 2002. He stood for election and won a third term in 2009, amid boycotts and allegations of fraud[4].

The political system is led by the President as head of state, who appoints the Prime Minister as the head of government. The legislature is divided into the National People's Assembly (APN), elected by universal adult suffrage, and the Council of the Nation (Senate), two thirds of which is elected by indirect suffrage with the remainder being appointed by the President[5].

The government responded to the 2011 protests across the Arab world by lifting a 19-year state of emergency, and using energy revenues to raise pay for public employees as well as subsidies on basic foodstuffs. Though these measures seem to have calmed public protests, some notable public figures continue to advocate against the government[6].

Economy

The Algerian economy is dominated by the oil and natural gas industries, accounting for 40-45 per cent of GDP and over 98 per cent of its export earnings. While unemployment has been decreasing, youth unemployment is around 20 per cent, a consequence of the growing youth population[7]. Following their 2010 Consultation Mission with Algeria, the IMF identified the need to diversify the economy and the creation of jobs for the younger generations as the key challenges for the future of the economy[8].

Civil Society and Media

President Bouteflika stated his “determination to ensure freedom of expression” following his re-election in 2009, however, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has noted very little improvement in press freedom. The Algerian Criminal Code allows for imprisonment and fines for publishing “defamatory comments”, while the majority of newspapers are reliant on government-run printers. The government also holds a monopoly on advertising, and rewards favourable press.

RWB rated Algeria 134 out of 178 countries in its 2010 world-wide index of press freedom[9].

Human Rights and Children's Rights

Algeria's recent history has been particularly violent and children have frequently been victims of this, both as civilians and, allegedly, as part of Government-allied paramilitary forces. The prevalence of sexual exploitation and trafficking has also become more widespread, as the State is increasingly becoming a place of transit for trafficking between Africa and Western Europe. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, in particular, has expressed its deep concern at the absence of a specific legal framework to protect children and eliminate this phenomenon[10]. Child labour and the persistence of discrimination based on gender are also major issues that continue to affect the country.

  1. UN DESA (2009d). "World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision". New York: Department for Economic and Social Affairs.
  2. Article 3, Constitution of Algeria
  3. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Country Profiles: Algeria
  4. Reuters, "Bouteflika wins third term as Algerian president"
  5. Universal Periodic Review, National Report 2008
  6. Reuters, "Algeria not immune to Arab spring revolt
  7. IMF, "Algeria should reduce reliance on oil, create more jobs, says IMF" 26 January 2011
  8. Statement of the IMF 2010 Article IV Consultation Mission with Algeria
  9. Reporters Without Borders, World Report: Algeria
  10. Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations, October 2005

Sources:


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