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Press briefing note on Algeria and Libya

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva
Date:  22 May 2018
Subject: (1) Algeria and (2) Libya

(1) Algeria

We call on the Government of Algeria to cease the collective expulsions of migrants, particularly from sub-Saharan African countries. While exact figures are difficult to obtain, the number of people expelled is believed to run into many thousands. 

A UN human rights team earlier this month visited Niamey, Agadez and Arlit in Niger where they interviewed 25 migrants who had been expelled from Algeria in recent months, as well as speaking to others familiar with the situation. What they heard was that Algerian authorities frequently carry out mass round-ups of sub-Saharan African migrants in various parts of the country. Our team heard of three incidents that took place in Oran on 9 March, 8 and 14 April, in the Duira neighbourhood of Algiers on 10 and 19 April, and in Boufarik on 18 April. Raids are reportedly carried out on construction sites in Algiers, as well as in neighbourhoods known to be populated by the migrants. Some also reported having been stopped in the street and detained.

What is particularly worrying is that most of the people we spoke to said that they were not subjected to individualised assessments, and were not informed of the reasons for their detention, nor were they allowed to pick up their belongings, passports or money before they were expelled. Many had to leave behind everything they had.

While some were transferred to Niger rapidly, others were detained in military bases in Blida and Zeralda on the outskirts of the city of Algiers or in a compound in Oran before being transferred to Tamanrasset in southern Algeria. Conditions of detention are reported to be inhuman and degrading. From Tamanrasset, Nigeriens are transferred by bus to Agadez in Niger, while the others are crammed into big trucks to be transferred to the Nigerien border where they are abandoned and left to walk hours in the desert heat to cross the border into Niger.

We heard testimony indicating that migrants who remain in Algeria are, understandably, very fearful. There are also concerns that the campaign of expulsions would foster racism and xenophobia against sub-Saharan Africans.

The collective expulsion of migrants, without individual assessment or any due process guarantees, is deeply alarming and not in line with Algeria’s obligations under international human rights law, including the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, which Algeria has ratified. According to international human rights law, migrants shall not be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. In case of arrest, detention and expulsion, due process guarantees including the right to legal advice and assistance, the right to consular protection, the right to information and the right to a remedy, shall be respected. They shall not be arbitrarily deprived of property or documents. Returns should be only carried out in accordance with international law, in safe conditions and with dignity.

We urge Algeria to implement the recommendations made by the Committee on Migrant Workers in April, including to explicitly prohibit collective expulsions and establish monitoring mechanisms to ensure that expulsions of migrant workers are carried out in strict compliance with international standards. The Committee also called on Algeria to ensure respect for the right to seek asylum and the principle of non-refoulement.*

* To see the concluding observations of the Committee on Migrant Workers, published in April, please see: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CMW/Shared%20Documents/DZA/INT_CMW_COC_DZA_30966_F.pdf (Available only in French).

* For the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, please see: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CMW.aspx

(2) Libya

Violence in Libya continues to have a devastating impact on health care in the country, with hospitals and other medical facilities bombed, shelled and looted; medical personnel targeted, attacked and even taken hostage or arbitrarily detained; and patients at times denied prompt life-saving care or attacked while getting treatment, according to a paper published today by the UN Human Rights Office and the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

To read the press release on the paper, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23113&LangID=E

ENDS

For media requests, please contact or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) or Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org)

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.

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