As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Algeria. Undocumented sub-Saharan migrants, primarily from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria are most vulnerable to labor and sex trafficking in Algeria, mainly due to their irregular migration status, poverty, and in some cases language barriers. Unaccompanied women and women traveling with children are also particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced domestic work. Refugees and asylum-seekers are also vulnerable to trafficking either before or during their migration to Algeria. In some instances, traffickers use false promises of work, such as that in a beauty salon or restaurant, to recruit migrants to Algeria where they ultimately exploit them in sex trafficking or forced labor. More often, Sub-Saharan African men and women, often en route to Europe or in search of employment, enter Algeria voluntarily but illegally, frequently with the assistance of smugglers or criminal networks. Many migrants, impeded in their initial attempts to reach Europe, remain in Algeria until they can continue their journey and work in Algeria’s informal job market. While facing limited opportunities in Algeria, many migrants illegally work in construction and some engage in commercial sex acts to earn money to pay for their onward journey to Europe, which puts them at high risk of sex trafficking and debt bondage. Traffickers often use restaurants, houses, or informal worksites to exploit victims, making it difficult for authorities to locate traffickers and their victims. Some migrants become indebted to smugglers, who subsequently exploit them in forced labor and sex trafficking upon arrival in Algeria. For example, some employers reportedly force adult male and child migrants to work in the construction sector to pay for smuggling fees for onward migration, where employers restrict migrants’ movement and withhold their salaries; some migrants on these construction sites report being afraid to seek medical assistance for fear of arrest by Algerian authorities. Female migrants in the southern city of Tamanrasset—the main transit point into Algeria for migrants—are exploited in debt bondage as they work to repay smuggling debts through domestic servitude, forced begging, and sex trafficking. Some migrants also fall into debt to fellow nationals who control segregated ethnic neighborhoods in Tamanrasset; these individuals pay migrants’ debts to smugglers and then force the migrants into bonded labor or commercial sex. Tuareg and Maure smugglers and traffickers in northern Mali and southern Algeria force or coerce men to work as masons or mechanics; women to wash dishes, clothes, and cars; and children to draw water from wells in southern Algeria. Victims also report experiencing physical and sexual abuse at the hands of smugglers and traffickers. Civil society and international organizations reported in 2019 that migrant women pay smuggling networks to transport them internally within the country from Tamanrasset to Algiers where they sometimes experience sexual violence during the journey; in some cases, once arriving in Algiers, the networks force the women into domestic servitude or commercial sex in informal brothels in order to pay the smuggling fees.
Foreign women and girls, primarily sub-Saharan African migrants, are exploited in sex trafficking in bars and informal brothels, typically by members of their own communities nationwide, including in cities such as Tamanrasset and Algiers. In 2019, civil society organizations reported anecdotal reports that criminal networks exploit young adult women from sub-Saharan Africa, aged 18-19, in sex trafficking in Algeria. Many sub-Saharan migrant women in southern Algeria willingly enter into relationships with migrant men to provide basic shelter, food, income, and safety, in return for sex, cooking, and cleaning. While many of these relationships are purportedly consensual, these women are at risk of trafficking, and migrants in Tamanrasset reported instances of women prevented from leaving the home and raped by their “partner.” In 2019, an NGO reported that Algerian women and girls are also vulnerable to sex trafficking rings, often as a result of financial difficulties or after running away from their homes; these incidents are reportedly clandestine in nature and therefore difficult for authorities and civil society actors to identify.
Criminal begging rings are common and were reportedly increasing in Algeria over the past several years. Media sources suggest leaders of begging networks coerce or force Sub-Saharan African migrant children to beg through the use of punishment. Local leaders suggest migrant children may also be coerced into work by their parents as a result of extreme economic pressures. According to credible sources in 2017, Nigerien female migrants begging in Algeria, who often carry children—sometimes rented from their mothers in Niger—may be forced labor victims. Furthermore, according to observers in 2017, Nigerien children, ranging from four- to eight-years-old, are brought to Algeria by trafficking networks with the consent of their parents and forced to beg for several months in Algeria before being returned to their families in Niger.