Human rights watchdogs are continuing lambasting Algerian authorities for the mistreatment of migrants on Algerian soil and the arbitrary deportation of hundreds of them in violation of international law.
Human Rights Watch denounced again this Wednesday Algerian authorities that have arbitrarily deported in the beginning of March more than a hundred migrants of various African nationalities into a lawless zone of neighboring Mali, where armed groups have robbed some of them.
Algerian authorities failed to adequately screen the migrants to determine their status and give them the opportunity to challenge their deportation, including those who might have refugee claims, and to collect their savings and belongings, said the human rights watchdog.
“Algeria should treat all migrants with respect and decency, give them a chance to challenge their deportation and not expose them to the risk of suffering inhuman treatment,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
Five migrants who had reached Mali told HRW in separate phone interviews that police in the north-central Algerian city of Ghardaia rounded them up on March 1 at various places, including on the street, at a construction site, and in a welding workshop. They said that authorities did not inform them of their right to call their consular representatives or let them collect their wages, savings, and other belongings.
The police escorted them on buses to Bordj Badji Mokhtar, the last town before the Mali border, handing them to gendarmes, who trucked them to the border and sent them over the border at gunpoint.
Armed militant groups linked to al-Qaeda operate in northern Mali, along with criminal gangs and armed smugglers.
Since December 2016, Algeria has expelled thousands of sub-Saharan migrants, mostly to Niger. According to HRW, the Algerian government has legitimate authority to deport undocumented migrants. But it must comply with international law.
As a party to the Migrants Workers’ Convention, Algeria is prohibited from collective expulsions of migrant workers and their families and is required to examine and rule on each potential expulsion individually. The convention applies to all migrant workers and their families, irrespective of their legal or work status.