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Thursday, 2 June 2011

Condemnation of Algeria by the UN Human Rights Committee following the enforced disappearance of Mr. Brahim Aouabdia.

TRIAL obtains the condemnation of Algeria by the United Nations Human Rights Committee following the enforced disappearance of Mr. Brahim Aouabdia


Geneva, 27 May 2011. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has recently condemned Algeria for the enforced disappearance of M. Brahim Aouabdia, a tailor of 50 years of age, married and father of six children, living in Constantine at the time of his disappearance. On 30 May 1994, M. Aouabdia was arrested at his workplace. Many other individuals were also arrested in Constantine in the days prior to and after his arrest.

M. Aouabdia has never been seen since. His spouse has moved heaven and earth to uncover news about his fate, but to no avail. 
In its decision, the Human Rights Committee affirmed that Algeria, through its enforced disappearance of Mr. Aouabdia, violated numerous rights guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, one of the most important conventions of the United Nations, notably the rights to life and not to be subject to torture or to inhumane treatment. Algeria was also found to have inflicted an inadmissible treatment on his spouse and his children by subjecting them to great anxiety and distress. 
In particular, the Committee requested Algeria to “conduct a deep and rigorous investigation into the disappearance of Brahim Aouabdia”, to “furnish his family with detailed information concerning the results of its investigation”, to free him 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, put on trial and punish those responsible for the violations committed”. Algeria was also required to pay an adequate compensation to the spouse and family of the victim for the violations endured.
TRIAL expressed its great satisfaction following this decision by the Committee. For Philip Grant, Director of the organisation, “17 years after the event, this decision clearly and finally recognizes the responsibility of Algeria in the disappearance of an individual, Mr. Aouabdia, among the thousands of others who have suffered the same fate. Algeria has institutionalized impunity for the crimes committed during the civil war, even validating it through its laws. None of those responsible have ever been brought to justice. The United Nations has reminded Algeria in the strictest terms that such a system inadmissibly violates international law”. Mr. Grant added that “such crimes must not sink into oblivion. Algeria is now obliged to rapidly conduct an investigation and punish the authors. It is imperative that the international community should finally require this State to respect the conventions it has ratified”.
TRIAL is currently handling some 63 cases before different international instances (European Court of Human Rights, Human Rights Committee and Committee against Torture), concerning cases of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and torture in several countries including Algeria, Bosnia Herzegovina, Libya and Nepal.Fifteen of these cases concern Algeria.
The Aouabdia v. Algeria case is the first case handled by TRIAL leading to a decision.
General context
Some 7000 to 20.000 persons, depending on different sources of information, have been arrested or abducted by the combined Algerian security services as well as by militia forces armed by the government between 1992 and 1998, and are still missing.
To date, none of the families of the victims of enforced disappearances have received information about the whereabouts of their relatives. No investigations have ever been conducted as a result of a criminal complaint or other procedure being lodged and though the authors and sponsors of the crimes are known, none of them has ever been investigated or brought to trial.
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