The ICRC in Algeria
In Algeria, the ICRC focuses mainly on visits to people deprived of their freedom, to assess their treatment and living conditions and seek improvements where necessary. It also helps the Algerian Red Crescent to restore contact between members of separated families and supports the authorities in promoting international humanitarian law.
The ICRC has been present in Algeria, with some interruptions, since the war of independence ending in 1962. Visiting people detained because of political or military events has always been its principal activity. Regular visits are made to people held in prisons, police stations and gendarmeries; these are followed up by confidential reports to the authorities concerned, with recommendations for improvements to treatment and conditions where necessary.
The ICRC has stepped up its visits to people held in pre-trial detention by the Ministries of the Interior and Defence, with a resulting increase in its dialogue with the Justice Ministry over treatment and conditions in such places of detention. The ICRC pays special attention to the situation of detained women, minors and foreign nationals. In 2009, the ICRC visited more than 18,600 detainees in Algeria.
The ICRC also addresses the issue of Algerian nationals detained abroad, or living in countries affected by conflict, through its support for the Algerian Red Crescent’s work to restore family links. Families can exchange news by Red Cross message with relatives detained in Guantanamo (who are visited there by the ICRC), and can make phone calls to relatives detained in Lebanon.
Algerian authorities have increased their efforts to incorporate and promote international humanitarian law, in both national legislation and military training. The ICRC works alongside the authorities, offering technical advice and expertise, and gives presentations to key audiences such as civil servants, future judges, military instructors and cadets, members of parliament and health workers.
The ICRC is also working to increase outreach to civil society, for example through the incorporation of IHL into university curricula, and greater cooperation with influential religious leaders and institutions and with the media.