Corruption in Algeria is endemic and tearing at the fabric of society, an official human rights group said in a report published on Friday, calling for punitive measures against corrupt officials.
The National Consultative Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, an official body, said in its annual report for 2011 that graft had “spread throughout the country,” impacting on all classes and “undermining the social fabric.”
“The operations of state institutions have become a source of enrichment and a way of serving private interest,” said the report, which was submitted to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
“The pervasive corruption and the impunity that facilitates it risks thwarting all attempts at enabling the economy and society to flourish,” it added.
“It is time… to combat, effectively and tirelessly, all civil servants who seek only to enrich themselves.”
The commission, whose chairman is appointed by the president, said “exemplary and preventative sanctions” were needed to stop “corrupt officials from enjoying the proceeds of corruption, once they have served their sentences.”
Poverty is widespread in Algeria, despite its vast natural resources, and many Algerians remain deeply disillusioned with the country’s ruling elite.
One opposition party claimed this disaffection was reflected in a very low turnout — of not more than 18 percent, according to the party — during the elections in May, compared with the official 42 percent participation.
A 2009 corruption scandal at state energy giant Sonatrach led to the jailing of its former chairman and the prosecution of other senior officials.