Algeria blasts campaign against migrant explusions

NGOs and campaigners have accused state of being behind "campaign of arbitrary arrests" and "collective expulsions" of migrants without due process.

ALGIERS - Algeria will expel 105 Malians for being members of the Ansar Eddine militant group, an official source said on Wednesday, the first such action in the North African country against the group.

"It is a decision of Algiers' court," the official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

The United Nations on Tuesday urged Algeria to stop rounding up and expelling sub-Saharan migrants.

Algeria has rejected the criticism, saying it was facing a massive influx of illegal migrants on its southern borders with Mali and Niger.

Militants linked to Malian jihadist Iyad Ag Ghali have claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks on Malian, United Nations and French troops operating in Mali’s desert north.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and a local branch of Islamic state are the two main militant groups in Algeria. 

Algeria blasted rights groups on Thursday for leading a "malicious campaign" against it, after NGOs accused the North African country of arresting sub-Saharan migrants en masse and forcefully deporting them.

Algerian rights groups, activists and civil society members launched an advocacy push in mid-May entitled "We are all migrants!".

Campaigners accused the state of being behind a "campaign of arbitrary arrests, followed by mass and collective expulsions" without due process.

Algeria's foreign ministry lashed out at the push, calling it "a malicious campaign... that wrongly accuses (the government) of failing to meet its international obligations" regarding migrants.

"Algeria strongly rejects these serious accusations that aim... to undermine its image and its relations with its neighbours in the south," the ministry said.

It added authorities deport "illegal migrants" with "full respect for human dignity and rights" and in close consultation with their home countries.

For several months, rights groups have denounced the mass arrests of sub-Saharan migrants in Algeria, who are later "abandoned" in desert areas along the border with Niger or Mali, according to an October report by Amnesty International.

On Tuesday, the UN's human rights arm called on Algeria "to cease collective expulsions of migrants particularly from sub-Saharan Africa".

The mass expulsion of thousands of migrants, "without individual review (of their case) or due process, is deeply alarming and not in line with Algeria's obligations under international human rights law", it said.

Rights groups estimate nearly 100,000 sub-Saharan migrants have entered Algeria in recent years.