Despite the adoption of a new constitution in 2016, which was presented as a way to strengthen democratic institutions in the country, the Algerian population grew tired of the lack of renewal of political leadership embodied by the presidency of Abdelaziz Bouteflika in power since 1999. His plan to seek a fifth mandate in February 2019 triggered unprecedented peaceful protests demanding free elections, an overhaul of the ruling regime, and respect for civil and political rights.
While the state of emergency was lifted in 2011, fundamental freedoms remain restricted, demonstrations are still prohibited in the capital, and gatherings continue to be suppressed countrywide. At the same time, bloggers, journalists, and human rights defenders exercising their peaceful right to freedom of expression operate under a constant threat of prosecution.
Perpetrators of grave human rights and humanitarian law violations committed during the 1990s – including torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial executions – have been granted a blanket amnesty by virtue of the 2006 National Charter for Peace and Reconciliation. The Charter also impedes any truth and justice process as it criminalises the public mention of crimes of the past, thus effectively muzzling the voices of victims and their families who wish to address these violations publicly and pursue remedies.
Corruption remains an issue, and the country maintained one of the lowest rankings worldwide on Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index. The lack of public trust in state institutions is also illustrated by the record low participation in the latest legislative elections of 2017.