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“It’s time to democratize housing policies in Algeria,” urges UN expert

ALGIERS / GENEVA (19 July 2011) – “I commend the strong commitment of the Algerian government in the housing field as reflected in the huge state production of social housing in the last decade and the very important budgetary inversion devoted to this area,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, at the end of her mission to Algeria from 9 to 19 July 2011*. “These efforts are particularly relevant in an international context characterized by the disengagement of the States from the housing sector.”

However, the independent expert noted that “while these efforts have been very important, street protests from citizens are taking place in different parts of the country following the display of the lists of beneficiaries of new social housing units.” In her view, “these demonstrations are the direct consequence of the lack of citizens’ participation in the process of establishing the criteria of attribution as well as the scope of making decisions left to the administration.”

“Although these criteria have been defined by decree and local commissions of state representatives apply them on the ground, the opacity of the process have created suspicion of clientelism and corruption on the part of the citizens,” Ms. Rolnik recalled.

“Democratizing housing policies, opening ground to the direct participation of citizens and civil society organizations in their planning and implementation, could represent an important step in the current framework of reforms promised by the Government,” she said.

In her preliminary conclusions at the end of her eleven-day mission, the Special Rapporteur also pointed out the limitations of a policy based only on the offer of new housing units while there is a range of different housing needs in the country. In this context, she reminded the Government of its obligation to protect the persons facing forced evictions and called on the authorities to “progressively ameliorate the conditions of living in unplanned settlements, as part of the need to diversify housing policies and to integrate them in a general framework of habitat.”

The independent human rights and housing expert also urged the Algerian Government to take positive measures to increase the access of women to housing and to protect them against discriminatory practices.

Raquel Rolnik (Brazil) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context by the United Nations Human Rights Council, in May 2008. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. An architect and urban planner, Rolnik has extensive experience in the area of housing and urban policies.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur preliminary conclusions: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11252&LangID=A

Learn more about the mandate and work of the Special Rapporteur: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/HousingIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Algeria: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/DZIndex.aspx

For more information and press inquiries, please contact:
Geneva (French/English) – Beatrice Quadranti (Tel: +41-79-201-0119 / email: bquadranti@ohchr.org)
Algiers (Arabic/French) – Dalila Bouras(email: dalila.bouras@undp.org, dalila.bouras@unic.org or Farida Kebri: farida.kebri@undp.org)

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