Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Algeria: Government human rights report sparks controversy - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page
Protesters are pushed back by riot police during a demonstration in downtown Algiers, January 22, 2011. (Reuters/Farouk Batiche)

Protesters are pushed back by riot police during a demonstration in downtown Algiers on January 22, 2011. (Reuters/Farouk Batiche)

Algiers, Asharq Al-Awsat—The government-affiliated Human Rights Authority in Algeria released its annual report earlier this week, exposing violations against the judiciary system and the media, as well as government corruption.

The report acknowledged that corruption “has become an institution in and of itself,” despite the government showing positive tendency towards rooting out this phenomenon.

The report added that “the Central Bureau for the elimination of corruption” and “the Anti-Corruption Authority,” two major government mechanisms for combating bribery and embezzlement, are inefficient and ineffectual.

The 202-page report stressed that combating bribery and public embezzlement “should be commissioned to honest figures with guarantees of protection and enormous powers to help them fulfill their duties.” It added that “the provision of protection, in the absence of a responsible and independent judiciary, is a pure fantasy.”

The report indicated that government-run anti-corruption agency officials do not have a reputation for honesty and integrity.

Recent reports have revealed that two daughters of Abdulkarim Ghareeb, a member of the Anti-Corruption Authority and former Algerian ambassador to Mali, are involved in bribery scandals relating to a construction project of a highway that links the eastern and western parts of Algeria.

The report, which criticized children’s rights and education in Algeria, also attacked press restrictions indicating that authorities “have taken measures to muzzle journalists working for private media outlets by issuing resolutions and regulations aimed at restricting freedom, as well as threatening journalists and reporters in the provinces with arrest.”

The report also condemned “the police use of force against journalists and photographers while covering protests.” The annual report expressed “regret” over the fact that Algerian TV channels find themselves compelled to broadcast from abroad due to the absence of laws regulating this sector.

Contrary to the image created by the project of “judicial reform” that Abdelaziz Bouteflika launched in 2000, the report stated that many citizens have complained about the judiciary system. The judiciary is said to be suffering from a crisis of confidence, particularly given that “the constitution does not guarantee the independence of the legislative authority.” The report also called on the ministry of justice to “refrain from interfering with the activity of the judiciary.”

Expressing his condemnation of the report, Amin Abdulrahman Sayyidhum, head of the Algerian Bar Association, told Asharq Al-Awsat that it “provides justifications for all the violations it reveals and this is something not unusual for the authority [that drafted this report], whose members are paid off by the executive branch.”

For his part, Mustafa Bushashi, an Algerian MP and a human rights activist, told Asharq Al-Awsat, “Rather than criticizing the judiciary, those who drafted this report should attack the corrupt regime which transformed the judiciary into a malleable tool.”