A delegation from the human rights group Amnesty International has been subjected to fierce criticism from the government press and leading political figures during a fact-finding trip to Algeria.
Democratic movement leader Said Sadi, union chief Abdel Madjid Sidi-Said and several groups representing victims of the country's civil war -- in which an estimated 100,000 people died -- lashed out at Amnesty Thursday for allegedly regarding armed Islamic militia factions as "opposition groups".
Government daily El Moudjahid, meanwhile, accused the group of dishonesty and bias, claiming Amnesty wished to "bring Algeria to its knees".
Speaking in a press conference on Saturday, however, the leader of Amnesty's four-person mission, Canadian Roger Clark, declared that the group had witnessed a clear improvement in human rights though it was still too early to draw a definitive conclusion.
He added that the mission had met with no obstacles in its work, and that no harm to Algeria's image had been intended.
This group's visit is the first since Amnesty was thrown out of Algeria in May 1996 for denouncing severe human rights abuses committed during the civil war that raged from 1992.
The four-person mission has met over 12 days with leading Algerian government officials and local human rights leaders, and traveled to the interior to speak with witnesses – ALGIERS (AFP)
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