Urgent Action UA 269/14
28 October 2014
The Algerian authorities may be preparing to forcibly return an 18-year-old Syrian refugee after he entered the country without official legal documentation.
Moustafa Albakkor, 18, fled Syria in 2012 to escape the crisis that had begun in 2011 and entered Turkey where he was officially recognised as a refugee by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). He travelled to Algeria in August 2014.
He was arrested on 18 August and detained in El-Oued Penal Institution, in the north-east of the country. He was tried on 12 October 2014, sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and fined 50,000 Dinars (US$600) for “entering the country with forged travel documents”. His appeal hearing is scheduled for 5 November. His family told Amnesty International they have been prevented from visiting him in prison for over two months.
He is now at risk of being forcibly returned to Syria, where he would face a real risk of human rights violations. Shortly after he was arrested, an official source told Moustafa Albakkor that the Syrian Embassy were in dialogue with the Algerian authorities regarding his deportation.
In the light of the serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations committed in Syria, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, Amnesty International believes that those fleeing the country should be considered at risk of serious harm and protected from forcible return.
Please write immediately in Arabic, French, English or your own language:
- Calling on the Algerian authorities not to forcibly return Moustafa Albakkor to Syria;
- Urging them to ensure he is allowed regular family visits;
- Urging them to uphold their international obligations, under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, to provide international protection for those fleeing serious human rights violations and the armed conflict in Syria.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 9 DECEMBER 2014 TO:
Minister of the Interior
Ministry of the Interior and Local Governments
18 rue Docteur Saâdane
Fax: + 213 21 60 52 10
+ 213 21 73 61 06
Salutation: Your Excellency
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Place Mohamed Seddik Benyahia
16070 El Mouradia
Fax: +213 21 50 41 41
Salutation: Your Excellency
And copies to:
Minister of Justice
8 Place Bir Hakem
16030 El Biar
Fax: +213 21 92 17 01
Following the outbreak of the crisis, Moustafa Albakkor fled from Syria to Turkey in 2012.
His family told Amnesty International that after about a year of numerous problems getting access to schooling in Turkey, Moustafa Albakkor crossed back into Northern Syria to obtain a passport which he hoped would enable him to continue his education. A man who claimed to be a lawyer assisted him with securing a passport and he re-entered Turkey. He later registered and was recognised as a refugee by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
He travelled to Algeria on 14 August 2014. He has said he was living in poor conditions in Turkey but had heard that Algeria had a good system in place for refugees. Four days after he entered the country, he was arrested in the north-eastern town of El-Oued, after the Algerian authorities received a notice from INTERPOL regarding his passport number.
He was detained in El-Oued detention centre and on 12 October, he was convicted by El-Oued Court of violating Article 222 of the Algerian Penal Code and Articles 7 and 44 of Law number 08-11 governing foreign nationals’ conditions of entry, stay and circulation by possessing and using a forged passport to illegally enter Algerian territory.
Law 08-11, which regulates the entry, stay and movement of foreigners in Algeria, allows provincial governors (wali) to order deportations of individuals who have entered or remain in Algerian territory “illegally”, without guaranteeing their right to appeal. In 2010, the UN Committee on Migrant Workers expressed concern that Algerian legislation criminalizes irregular migration as a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment or fines and allows for the indefinite detention of irregular migrants and that the authorities had failed to investigate reports of collective expulsions.
Moustafa Albakkor is at risk of being forcibly returned to Syria, according to an official source.
Algeria, as a party to the 1951 Refugees Convention and the 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, is obliged to provide international protection for those fleeing serious human rights violations and the armed conflict in Syria.