Annual Report: Algeria 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Algeria 2011

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  • Salah Koulal was arrested on 5 September in Baghtiya, Boumerdès province, by plain-clothed security officers and detained for 13 days in an unrecognized detention centre in Blida. He remained in El Harrach prison at the end of the year, awaiting trial on a charge of being an "apologist" for terrorism-related activities.
  • Mustapha Labsi was detained for 12 days by the DRS after he was forcibly returned to Algeria from Slovakia on 19 April. He was then transferred to El Harrach prison. At the end of 2010, he was awaiting trial on charges of belonging to a "terrorist group abroad".
  • In April, security suspects held in El Harrach prison went on hunger strike to protest against alleged ill-treatment by guards who, they said, had insulted, slapped and humiliated them. No official investigation into their allegations was held.

Suspects in terrorism-related cases faced unfair trials. Some were convicted on the basis of "confessions" that they alleged were extracted under torture or other duress, including some who were sentenced to death by military courts. Some were denied access to lawyers of their choice. Other security suspects were detained without trial.

  • The trial of Malik Medjnoun and Abdelhakim Chenoui had not resumed by the end of 2010. Accused of murdering famous Kabyle singer Lounès Matoub, and of terrorism-related offences, they have spent over 10 years in detention without trial. Both were tortured during prolonged incommunicado detention following their arrest in 1999.
  • Hasan Zumiri and Adil Hadi Bin Hamlili were transferred to Algeria from US custody in Guantánamo Bay in January; Abdelaziz Naji was transferred in July. All three remained at liberty while investigations continued to determine whether they would face charges of belonging to a "terrorist group abroad". Two former Guantánamo detainees, Mustafa Ahmed Hamlily and Abdul Rahman Houari, were acquitted of similar charges in February and November, respectively. Another former Guantánamo detainee, Bachir Ghalaab, was sentenced to a suspended prison term.

Discrimination and violence against women

In November, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women visited Algeria. Despite efforts to implement a national strategy to combat violence against women, the authorities had yet to criminalize domestic violence, including marital rape, and individuals responsible for gender-based violence were not brought to justice.

  • In March and April, a series of attacks targeting women living alone took place in the "36 dwellings" and "40 dwellings" areas in the town of Hassi Messaoud. Groups of men forcibly entered the women's homes, and robbed and physically assaulted them. Some women were also sexually abused. Complaints led to tighter security around the targeted areas, but did not result in prosecutions of alleged perpetrators.

Impunity - enforced disappearances

No steps were taken to investigate the thousands of enforced disappearances and other serious abuses that took place during the internal conflict in the 1990s. The authorities continued to implement the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation (Law 06-01), which gave impunity to the security forces, criminalized public criticism of their conduct and amnestied members of armed groups responsible for gross human rights abuses. In October, a senior official claimed that 7,500 "repented terrorists" had been granted amnesties since 2005. He also said that 6,240 families of people who had disappeared had accepted financial compensation, and that only 12 families "manipulated by NGOs and foreign bodies" were refusing compensation. Under Law 06-01, relatives can seek compensation if they obtain a death certificate from the authorities for the person who disappeared.

Families of the disappeared continued to hold protests in several cities, including Algiers, Constantine and Jijel. The head of the CNCPPDH declared in August that demands by families for truth and justice were unrealistic due to the absence of testimonies and the impossibility of identifying perpetrators.