Enforced disappearance of Sahraoui AYACHE in August 1994

12.02.2016 ( Last modified: 15.09.2016 )

In June 2011, TRIAL lodged an individual complaint before the United Nations Human Rights Committee on behalf of Ms Aïcha Dehimi and Miss Nouara Ayache. These women were acting in the name of their son and brother, M. Sahraoui Ayache, kidnapped on 12 August 1994 in Constantine and who has been missing ever since. His disappearance occurred during a widespread campaign of forced disappearances in Algeria between 1992 and 1996.

M. Sahraoui Ayache was arrested at his home on the morning of 12 August 1994 by the Algerian Security Services for no valid reason and without an arrest warrant. His arrest as well as that of his parents and neighbours, followed the assassination of two military personnel in the region and was part of a policy of repression of the opposition aimed mainly at the members of the Islamic Salvation Front, who had been accused of terrorist acts.

After being taken to an unknown place, M. SAHRAOUI Ayache and his fellow prisoners underwent dreadful detention conditions. Packed into a cell measuring only four square metres, the men were forced to remain standing upright in the insupportable heat of the month of August. In the space of one day only, several died. It is a possibility that M. Sahraoui Ayache himself died during this period.

Even though they were living in painful uncertainty, the relatives of the missing man however never gave up on their insistence that justice be done, doing so by contacting a multitude of national authorities. However, despite these contacts made with the military authorities, the Algerian security services and the requests submitted also to national judicial and human rights authorities demanding that enquiries be opened up, no valid reply has ever been given to the family of the victim.

Despite these numerous bureaucratic contacts and the ongoing desire of the family members to determine the whereabouts of their relative, until this day no light whatsoever has been shone on the disappearance of M. Sahraoui Ayache.

In lodging their complaint before the UN Human Rights Committee, Ms Aïcha Dehimi and Miss Nouara Ayache request that Algeria be found in violation of articles 2, 6, 7, 9, 16 and 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with respect to the disappeared person. In addition they submit that the Algerian authorities are also in violation of articles 2 and 7 of the same covenant with respect to them since the disappearance of their son and brother has been for both of them a source of anguish and sufferance.

General Context

The enforced or involuntary disappearances, of which M. Sahraoui Ayache is one of the countless victims, had its roots in the Algerian Civil War. After the end of a bloody war of national liberation, Algeria, then proud of its new found independence, nevertheless shortly afterwards descended into a fratricidal conflict which led to brutal excesses and massive violations of human rights.

According to different information sources between 7,000 to 20,000 persons were arrested or abducted by all corps of Algerian security services and the militia armed by the government between 1992 and 1998, and are still missing.

To date, the families of the victims of enforced or involuntary disappearances have received no information whatsoever concerning the fate of their disappeared relatives. The Algerian authorities have never seen fit to open up enquiries as a result of complaints or enquiries addressed to them. Although the identity of the authors and instigators of these crimes is known, none of them has ever been prosecuted or troubled. Furthermore, since the adoption of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation in 2006, the latter benefit from a thinly disguised amnesty since it is no longer allowed to bring a complaint for exactions similar to those endured by M. Sahraoui Ayache Algeria seeing these as being attempts to “exploit the wounds of the national tragedy”, and an attempt to retard the process of national reconciliation underway. 

 

The decision

In October 2014, the Human Rights Committee communicated its decision (called “views” in the UN language).

The Committee held that Algeria violated Articles 6 § 1, 7, 9, 10 § 1 and 16 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, taken alone and in conjunction with Article 2 § 3 of the Covenant with regards to the victim.

The Committee also held that Algeria violated Article 7 of the ICCPR, taken alone and in conjunction with Article 2 § 3, with regards to the victim’s mother and sister.

The Committee requested Algeria “to conduct a deep and rigorous investigation into the disappearance of Mr. Sahraoui Ayache”. Algeria is also requested to “provide the authors with detailed information concerning the results of its investigation”, “to free the victim immediately if he is still being secretly detained” or, “if he is deceased, to return his mortal remains to his family”. Moreover, the Committee insisted on Algeria’s obligation to “indict, try and punish those responsible for the violations committed” and to pay an appropriate compensation to the family of the victim for the violations committed.

Algeria is further requested to guarantee the effectiveness of the domestic justice system, especially with respect to victims of torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance and to take steps to avoid the recurrence of similar violations.

 

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