The government maintained efforts to identify and refer some trafficking victims to protection; however, unidentified victims, especially among the sub-Saharan African migrant population, remained vulnerable to penalization. The government identified 34 trafficking victims during the reporting period, which included 31 men and three children; this compared to 33 male, female, and child victims identified in the prior reporting period. Of the 34 identified trafficking victims, the National Gendarmerie referred eight victims to an NGO for care and referred one child victim to a judge advocate within the Ministry of Justice responsible for ensuring vulnerable children receive appropriate social services. The DGSN also referred two child trafficking victims to a youth and sports center in Tamanrasset, but it did not report what types of protection services the victims received at this center. The government did not report what type of protection services it provided to the remaining 23 identified victims. The government reported ongoing efforts to disrupt the operations of begging rings involving many women and children; however, it did not report screening for, or identifying, potential trafficking victims among this vulnerable population. The government did not have standard operating procedures or a formal mechanism to identify and refer victims to protection services, especially victims among vulnerable groups such as migrants and persons in prostitution. During the reporting period, however, the government—in cooperation with international organizations and civil society—trained law enforcement, judicial, and social services personnel, and labor inspectors on ad hoc approaches to identifying trafficking victims among high-risk populations. The DGSN also continued to provide its officers with an INTERPOL-produced manual on the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women, and the National Gendarmerie continued to provide investigators with a guide outlining human trafficking indicators. Nevertheless, government officials had difficulty distinguishing trafficking victims from irregular migrants and identifying trafficking victims among ethnically cohesive migrant communities.
Observers reported that victim protection services were an area of needed improvement for the government. The government did not have shelter or other protection services specifically tailored to the needs of trafficking victims, nor could it quantify the amount of resources it dedicated to victim protection services during the reporting period. However, the government reported the Ministries of Health and Solidarity could provide trafficking victims with services as needed, to include safe shelter, food, medical services, interpretation services, legal consultations, psychological counseling, and repatriation assistance.
The government did not report screening migrants for trafficking indicators before arresting, detaining, and deporting them. Thus, potential trafficking victims among African migrant populations continued to face punishment—such as arrest, detention, prosecution, and deportation—for illegal migration, prostitution, and other crimes traffickers compelled them to commit. Officials continued to rely on victims to report abuses to authorities; however, trafficking victims among the migrant populations typically did not report potential trafficking crimes to the police. Many undocumented migrants in Algeria, fearing deportation, avoided public services, and the government acknowledged that foreign victims sometimes did not come forward to bring trafficking cases to the attention of police. The government’s operations to deport irregular migrants—without authorities’ efforts to screen for trafficking during these operations—may have further discouraged foreign trafficking victims from making their presence known to authorities. Since January 2018 and into the current reporting period, international NGOs and the media reported the government deported thousands of migrants primarily from sub-Saharan Africa, including children and pregnant women, to the desert border or neighboring countries.
The government provided foreign victims with legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they faced retribution or hardship. The government reported it allowed relief from deportation for identified trafficking victims for an indefinite period of time and allowed all foreign victims to stay in Algeria temporarily; however, it did not grant work permits to trafficking victims while under temporary residency status. The government did not report if it encouraged victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers. Trafficking victims were legally entitled to file civil suits against their offenders, but the government did not report cases in which victims did so during the reporting period.