PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF ALGERIA: Mass racial profiling used to deport more than 2,000 sub-Saharan migrants

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1 Nov 2017
[International Secretariat]
Topic: Refugees and Migrants

The Algerian authorities have launched a discriminatory crackdown against foreign nationals, rounding up and forcibly expelling more than 2,000 sub-Saharan African migrants from a range of countries to neighbouring Niger and Mali over the past three weeks, said Amnesty International. Those expelled include more than 300 minors, among them at least 25 unaccompanied children.

The new wave of arrests started on 22 September when Algerian police and gendarmes began arbitrarily detaining migrants in the capital, Algiers, and neighbouring suburbs. Research by Amnesty International indicates they made arrests on the basis of racial profiling as they did not seek to ascertain whether the migrants had the right to stay in the country, either by checking their passports or other documents. Some of those arrested and deported are undocumented migrants, while others have valid visas.

The latest wave of mass arrests and expulsions comes just few weeks after more than 1,000 people – mainly nationals of Niger – were returned to Niger in August 2017. Arrests also took place during the first weeks of September. In July the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs had said organised crime networks are behind the massive flows of migrants in Algeria, while the Cabinet Director of the Presidency of the Republic referred to migrants in the country as a source of criminality and illicit traffics, including drugs.

Meanwhile, at the level of the public, there has been an alarming number of xenophobic comments by Algerian social media users blaming migrants for spreading HIV and taking Algerians’ jobs. In September, the Algerian Ministry of Transport issued an order barring undocumented migrants from using public transport, although this was later withdrawn.

While Algerian authorities have not given any justification for the latest arrests, on 20 October the Algerian Ministry of Justice declared that Algeria “hasn’t closed its doors to foreign migrants”, but is working “to protect the borders and secure the country”.

Under international standards, no one can be forcibly expelled from a country without being given a fair opportunity to challenge their expulsion. In addition, no one can be returned to a country where they would face a real risk of serious human rights violations.

“Instead of trampling over the rights of migrants and carrying out mass expulsions, the Algerian authorities should be trying to counter racial discrimination and hate speech against sub-Saharan Africans and reform laws on the rights of migrant workers to stay in the country,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s North Africa Research Director.

Moreover, since 22 September, around 15 refugees and asylum-seekers who were among those detained by police have been released after the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNCHR) intervention.

23 October 2017

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