Urgently ensure the protection of women in Hassi Messaoud and put a permanent end to the impunity of perpetrators of these assaults
We have continued to receive news, from civil society organizations and the Algerian media, of terrible atrocities perpetrated against women workers in Hassi Messaoud, in recent weeks. These events remind us of the tragic days of July 2001 which saw hundreds of women, “tortured, stoned, raped and buried alive”, as recalled by the Algerian press.
Ten years later, these crimes go largely unpunished and women, in general, have not been able to rebuild their lives for lack of sustained material and financial support, but also while facing moral and legal challenges. Time has not healed this nightmare, and it has started again. Violence has flared up conducted by gangs of youth that, once again with impunity, are stealing from, beating, and torturing – mostly migrant – women, who work in the industrial and economic sectors of Hassi Messaoud. The majority of them are in hiding because they cannot leave their jobs: they need to provide for themselves and support their families.
This situation is intolerable in terms of the law, our consciences and the human rights that these women are entitled to as citizens. It is intolerable in the face of the inaction, which has begun to resemble the complicity, of local police forces and administrative structures at the regional and national level. The authority of the state is constantly flouted because these groups know they can act with impunity. Justice has still not been served for the violence and killings of 2001.
We would therefore like to draw your attention to these gross violations of the human and citizenship rights of these workers. It is imperative that there is an immediate end to the violence and torture, which is condemned by national and international laws.
We have urged the Algerian authorities at all levels of governance to intervene urgently, and to take drastic and effective measures to ensure the protection of women and put a final stop to these acts of banditry.
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