The government maintained uneven law enforcement efforts. Algeria criminalized most forms of sex trafficking and all forms of labor trafficking under Section 5 of its penal code and prescribed penalties of three to 10 years’ imprisonment and fines of 300,000 to 1 million Algerian dinar ($2,270-$7,560). These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with regard to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Inconsistent with international law, Section 5 required a demonstration of force, fraud, or coercion to constitute a child sex trafficking offense, and therefore did not criminalize all forms of child sex trafficking. Article 143 of Law 12-15 stated that crimes committed against children, including those involving sexual exploitation, would be vigorously penalized; it generally referenced other penal code provisions that could potentially be applied to child sex trafficking offenses that did not involve force, fraud, or coercion. Article 319 bis of the penal code, which criminalized the buying and selling of children younger than the age of 18, prescribed penalties of five to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine for individuals convicted of committing or attempting to commit this crime; however, this law could be interpreted to include such non-trafficking crimes as migrant smuggling or illegal adoption. Since 2018 and throughout the reporting period, the government coordinated with an international organization to draft a standalone anti-trafficking law that would remove the requirement of a demonstration of force, fraud, or coercion for child sex trafficking offenses and institutionalize victim protection measures; at the end of the reporting period the Prime Minister’s Office was reviewing the legislation before referring it to the Council of Ministers and legislature for consideration. During the reporting period, the government revised Algeria’s constitution and added a provision condemning trafficking, with the goal of focusing government attention on trafficking cases.
The General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) maintained seven police brigades to combat human trafficking and illegal immigration based in Bechar, Tamanrasset, Illizi, Souk-Ahras, Tlemcen, Adrar, and Annaba; five additional brigades in Algiers, Oran, Constantine, Ouargla, and Ghardaia supported the brigades as necessary. The Gendarmerie maintained 50 special brigades dedicated to managing children’s issues, including child trafficking. In 2020, the Gendarmerie and the DGSN dismantled 190 human smuggling groups and networks, but the ministries reported there were no incidents of human trafficking crimes allegedly committed by these groups. The government did not report investigating any trafficking cases for the second consecutive year. In 2020, the government did not report prosecuting any forced labor or sex trafficking cases; in 2019, the government prosecuted 13 alleged traffickers. The government convicted five traffickers – four for forced begging and one for sex trafficking – during the reporting period in two cases started in 2016 and 2019; this was an increase compared to the previous reporting period when the government did not convict any traffickers. Two of the convicted traffickers were Algerian and three were Nigerien. Sentences ranged from three years imprisonment and a 300,000 dinar ($2,270) fine to 20 years imprisonment and a 1 million dinar ($7,560) fine. In addition, the government convicted three Algerians for failing to report the sex trafficking case; the government sentenced one to four years’ imprisonment and a 500,000 dinar ($3,780) fine and the other two Algerians to a one-year suspended sentence and a 100,000 dinar ($756) fine. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking offenses during this reporting period. The government maintained four courts—based in Algiers, Constantine, Oran, and Ouargla—dedicated to cases involving transnational organized crime, under which it classified trafficking within the Algerian judicial system; these courts adjusted to the pandemic by limiting in-person participation in court processes and allowing video testimony. Government officials acknowledged one of the biggest obstacles to prosecuting cases is identifying trafficking crimes, which remains difficult because of a lack of well-trained investigators and judicial officials as well as limited public awareness.
Due to the pandemic, the government canceled most trainings for officials planned during the reporting period. However, the government, at times in coordination with international organizations, conducted eight virtual anti-trafficking trainings for law enforcement, judicial officials, and labor inspectors during the reporting period. Algerian officials also participated in virtual workshops hosted by international organizations, multilateral organizations, and foreign governments during the reporting period. The government continued to contribute to INTERPOL’s databases on organized crime and human trafficking. The government also reportedly prioritized building police-to-police cooperation with other countries in Africa, including through AFRIPOL, to combat all crimes, including human trafficking.