Algeria ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW”) on May 22, 1996.
Upon ratification, Algeria made reservations to the following CEDAW articles: 2, 9:2, 15:4, 16, and 29 as described in detail below.
- Article 2: The Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria declares that it is prepared to apply the provisions of this article on condition that they do not conflict with the provisions of the Algerian Family Code.
- Article 9, paragraph 2: The Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria wishes to express its reservations concerning the provisions of article 9, paragraph 2, which are incompatible with the provisions of the Algerian Nationality code and the Algerian Family Code.
- The Algerian Nationality code allows a child to take the nationality of the mother only when:
– the father is either unknown or stateless;
– the child is born in Algeria to an Algerian mother and a foreign father who was born in Algeria ;
– moreover, a child born in Algeria to an Algerian mother and a foreign father who was not born on Algerian territory may, under article 26 of the Algerian Nationality Code, acquire the nationality of the mother providing the Ministry of Justice does not object.
– Article 41 of the Algerian Family Code states that a child is affiliated to its father through legal marriage.
– Article 43 of that Code states that `the child is affiliated to its father if it is born in the 10 months following the date of separation or death’.
- Article 15, paragraph 4: The Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria declares that the provisions of article 15, paragraph 4, concerning the right of women to choose their residence and domicile should not be interpreted in such a manner as to contradict the provisions of chapter 4 (art. 37) of the Algerian Family Code.
- Article 16: The Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria declares that the provisions of article 16 concerning equal rights for men and women in all matters relating to marriage, both during marriage and at its dissolution, should not contradict the provisions of the Algerian Family Code.
- Article 29: The Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria does not consider itself bound by article 29, paragraph 1, which states that any dispute between two or more Parties concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention which is not settled by negotiation shall, at the request of one of them, be submitted to arbitration or to the International Court of Justice.
– The Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria holds that no such dispute can be submitted to arbitration or to the Court of International Justice except with the consent of all the parties to the dispute.
Summary of Official CEDAW Reports:
To date, Algeria has submitted two official periodic reports to the CEDAW Committee (“Committee”). The first report came out two years following ratification in January 1999, and the second report was released four years later in 2003.
In response to the most recent report, the Committee released comments regarding Algeria’s progress in implementing CEDAW as well as the areas of concerns. The Committee noted its disappointment with Algeria for not taking adequate steps to implement the recommendations made to them by the Committee following their first report. The Committee also expressed its particular concern regarding the situation of rural women and their access to education, health services, land and housing as well as the prevalence of sexual violence. In addition, the Committee recommended that Algeria make it a priority to strengthen women’s national machinery, remedy all gender discriminatory laws and provide more statistics in future reports.
A detailed account of progress expressed by the Committee following Algeria’s second periodic report in 2003 as follows:
- Progress accomplished in the field of women’s health, most notably the decline in maternal and infant mortality as well as the increase in women’s life expectancy.
- An increase in the rate of inscription among girls in superior education institutions, rising from 39.5% in 1990 to 55.4% in 2003.
- An increase in women’s participation in the judiciary, where women now represent a third of magistrates and management posts, such as the president of the State Council or in the tribune for example.
- The participation of women in public life has improved, notably the presence of four women in ministerial posts at the seat of the current government.
- The alteration of its penal code that criminalized sexual harassment.
A detailed account of recommendations made by the Committee following Algeria’s second periodic report in 2003 as follows:
- Work systematically to put the Convention’s stipulations into place, specifically by sharing the Committee’s present recommendations with all ministries and the Parliament to ensure their application.
- Immediately take into consideration the Committee’s prior recommendation and put together studies on the repercussions of terrorism on women and girls.
- Define discrimination against women, in accordance with Article 2 of the CEDAW, and apply this definition in its Constitution and all other appropriate legislation.
- Immediately and without delay reform its Family Code in order to be able to lift its reservations to the CEDAW.
- Enact legislative reforms and accelerate the process of revising its Nationality Code and Family Code in accordance with the CEDAW articles 9 and 16.
- Remove any obstacles that may prevent women from accessing justice.
- Elaborate on a complete methodology to compile data and make available statistics relating to sex in order to evaluate the tendencies and impact of programs on the female population.
- Make it a priority to adopt legislation on violence against women, especially familial violence, which constitutes a form of discrimination against women as well as a violation of their fundamental rights.
- Take measures to avoid all forms of violence against women by training and informing judicial system members, health care providers, social workers and the general public.
- Enact measures that permit victims of violence to receive medical, psychological and judicial assistance.
- Take concrete steps, including special temporary measures, as indicated by paragraph 1 of article 4 of the CEDAW, in all sectors, so that women occupy de facto a role equal to that of men.
- Double its efforts to implement programs that favor a better understanding of equality among the sexes in all echelons of society, with the aim to modify stereotypical attitudes and traditional norms relating to the roles of men and women in the family and in society.
- Take concrete steps, including special temporary measures, as indicated by paragraph 1 of article 4 of the CEDAW, to increase the representation of women in the public sphere, and develop training programs to increase women’s participation in decision-making roles.
- Undertake studies to evaluate the situation of women who work in the informal sector and produce detailed information in its next report on this topic.
- Intensify its efforts to eliminate obstacles facing women in the workplace and enact measures favorable to the conciliation of familial and professional obligations of men and women.
- Enact special temporary measures in accordance with paragraph 1 of article 4 of the CEDAW to accelerate the application of article 11 of the CEDAW.
- Watch over the needs of rural women and take them into consideration in political decisions and programs, and provide in its next report detailed information regarding the situation of rural women.
- Cooperate with non-governmental organizations in applying the articles of CEDAW and coordinate with them on its next periodic report.
- Ratify the Optional Protocol and accept, as soon as possible, the amendment to paragraph 1 of article 20 of the CEDAW regarding the length of the Committee meeting.
- Respond to the expressed concerns in its upcoming periodic reports, which the committee recommends be in June 2005 and June 2009.
- Taking into account the elements relative to equality between the sexes that figure into the statements, programs and action plans adopted outside of the conferences, UN summit meetings and extraordinary sessions, the Committee requests that it present information relating to these elements in its next periodic report.
- Ratify any and all of the seven principal international instruments relative to human rights, which the government has not done already.
- Distribute the observations of the committee so that the people of Algeria, most notably the members of the Administration and politicians, the parliamentarians and women’s and human rights NGO’s, are all aware of measures taken by Algeria to ensure equality of the law and between sexes.
Summary of Shadow Reports:
To date, one shadow report has been submitted regarding the progress of the implementation of CEDAW in Algeria. This report was presented by the Collectif 95 Maghreb Egalité in 2005. Though the report commended Algeria in terms of Article 29 of the Algerian Constitution, which proclaims equality for men and women under the law, and article 132 considers the preeminence of international law over national law, the report expressed concern over the fact that Algeria has yet to ratify the Optional Protocol, effectively making article 132 of its Constitution void.
The shadow report expressed concern on the following four topics concerning women’s rights and the application of CEDAW in Algeria: the question of women in internal and international politics; the proposed constitutional amendments and how they will modify the existing situation; the participation of women in the economic sphere; and the violence and marginalization of women.
In April 2008, the Human Rights Council in Geneva released the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. This report, though generalist in nature, made significant observations regarding Algeria’s progress in implementing CEDAW.
The report noted that the modifications of Algeria’s Family Code, amended in 2005, corrected a number of injustices related to women, including the age of marriage and housing entitlements in case of divorce. A significant improvement is the new Nationality Code, which rendered null and void the reservation expressed by Algeria on article 9 (2) of CEDAW, thus making it possible for Algerian women to transmit their nationality to their children.
The report made several recommendations to the government of Algeria regarding its implementation of CEDAW. In addition to its work on the general improvement of women’s rights, including addressing cultural, social and legal barriers, the report recommended that Algeria review its Family Code in order to remedy provisions that still discriminate against women regarding the issues of domestic violence, divorce, testimony and inheritance. It was also suggested that Algeria continue to promote the rights of women, particularly in relation to their right to education as well as their right to employment in the private sector.
On February 2, 2009, the Algerian newspaper al-Dustour reported that the secretary General of the opposition Labor Party in Algeria, Louisa Hannoun, had nominated herself in the Presidential elections to be held on April 9, 2009.
In honor of the International Day for Women, the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (“LADDH”) distributed a press release on May 8, 2009 regarding the current state of women’s rights in Algeria. The LADDH noted that despite the government’s commitment to women’s human rights through its ratification of CEDAW with reservations and its latest amendments to the Family Code as well as the Constitution, women continue to be victims of violence and discrimination. Although Algeria ratified CEDAW, the fact that national legislation and discriminatory national laws continue to be an obstacle to women in their fight for equality. The LADDH therefore strongly urges Algeria to put CEDAW into force by lifting its reservations to the treaty as well as ratifying its Optional Protocol.
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