Algeria: Father and son kidnapped and tortured

12.02.2016 ( Last modified: 10.11.2016 )

Introduction

TRIAL lodged an individual complaint before the United Nations Human Rights Committee on behalf of Mrs Khaourkha Marouf, spouse Azizi, in January 2009. She acts in the name of her husband, Abdelkrim Azizi, and her son, Abdessamad Azizi, both kidnapped on September 22, 1994 in Algers and missing since. The victims disappeared during a widespread campaign of forced disappearances in Algeria between 1992 and 1998.

During the night of September 22, 1994, Abdelkrim and Abdessamad Azizi were arbitrarily arrested by members of the Algerian police force at their home. During this arrest, Abdelkrim Azizi was tortured by his assailants and his family was forced to witness his torment. Furthermore, the police officers pillaged the family’s home and adjoining store. Abdelkrim and Abdessamad Azizi were taken away to an undisclosed location and the whereabouts have remained unknown to their family since then.

Despite Khaourkha Marouf’s repeated pleas for information, the Algerian authorities have refused to admit that Abdelkrim and Abdessamad Azizi were in their custody or to give their family any information as to their situation.

A former police officer has that Abdelkrim and Abdessamad Azizi were detained at the “cité de la Montagne” police station in Bourouba and alleged that they were there tortured to death. The detention of Abdelkrim and Abdessamad Azizi was also confirmed by former cellmates.

In her complaint before the UN Human Rights Committee, Mrs Khaourkha Marouf requests that her husband and son be recognized as victims of forced disappearance and that Algeria be found in violation of the following rights in regards to its treatment of Abdelkrim and Abdessamad Azizi: to life; not to be subjected to torture; to liberty and security of the person; to be treated with humanity and dignity while in detention; to recognition as a person before the law; to be free from arbitrary or unlawful interference with one’s privacy and family; to the protection of the family and to an effective remedy when such rights are violated (articles 6 § 1, 7, 9 §§ 1, 2, 3 et 4, 10 § 1, 16, 17, 23 § 1 and 2 § 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights).

Furthermore, the Committee is asked to recognize the Algerian authorities’ actions towards Khaourkha Marouf and her family as violations of the rights to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; to be free from arbitrary or unlawful interference with one’s privacy and family; to the protection of the family and to an effective remedy when such rights are violated (articles 7, 17 et 23 § 1 and 2 § 3 of the Covenant) considering the psychological pain and suffering endured by the author and her family during the years of uncertainty since the arrest of her husband and son.

Mrs Marouf also asks that an investigation be initiated into the alleged violations and that the responsible parties be brough t to justice.

The proceedings are currently underway before the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

General Context

These events occurred during the Algerian civil war during which thousands of civilians were kidnapped. It is reported that between 7,000 and 20,000 people were disappeared by the Algerian police forces between 1992 and 1998. Secret detentions during long periods were a common instrument of repression in Algeria during this time. The use of torture was also very prevalent and often led to deaths of detainees. The members of the police forces acted with complete impunity. Since the implementation of the Charter for National Peace and Reconciliation in 2006, these forces have officially received amnesty for their acts during the civil war. It is now illegal to bring a complaint for crimes or exactions like the ones Abdelkrim and Abdessamad Azizi suffered.

The decision

In July 2013, the Human Rights Committee adopted its decision in the case of Azizi father and son.

The Committee held that Algeria violated several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, especially rights to:

  • life (art. 6 alone or in conjunction with art. 2 & 3)
  • liberty and security (art. 9 alone or conjunction with art. 2 & 3)
  • adequate detention conditions (art. 10 alone or conjunction with art. 2 & 3)
  • interdiction of torture (art. 7 alone or conjunction with art. 2 & 3)
  • recognition of the legal personality (art.16 alone or conjunction with art. 2 & 3)
  • not be subjected to arbitrary interference in one’s private life (art. 17 alone or conjunction with art. 2 & 3)

 

Moreover, the Committee found other violations of the Covenant regarding the victim’s spouse :

  • interdiction of inhumane treatment (art. 7 alone and in conjunction with art. 2 & 3)
  • not be subjected to arbitrary interference in one’s private life (art. 17 alone and in conjunction with art. 2 & 3

The Committee requests Algeria to:

  • In addition, Algeria has the obligation to: