Annual Report: Algeria 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Algeria 2010

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  • Hafnaoui Ghoul, a journalist and human rights activist with the Djelfa branch of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH), was convicted by the Court of First Instance of Djelfa on charges of defamation and contempt of a public institution in two separate trials on 27 October. He was sentenced to a total of four months’ imprisonment, two of them suspended, fined and told to pay damages. He appealed in both cases and remained at liberty pending the outcome. Judicial proceedings were taken against him after officials in Djelfa complained about articles he had written in Wasat newspaper alleging mismanagement and corruption. In January, he was the victim of a knife attack in the street by a person unknown.
  • Kamal Eddine Fekhar, a LADDH member and political activist within the Front of Socialist Forces (FFS), faced prosecution in several cases. In October, the Court of First Instance of Ghardaia sentenced him to a suspended six-month prison term and a fine for “insult”, which he denied. He was also awaiting trial on charges of inciting the burning of a police car in February, for which he was arrested in June, placed under judicial control and had his passport confiscated. His arrest followed a call by the FFS for a strike in Ghardaia on 1 June to protest against an alleged miscarriage of justice.
  • The appeal of human rights lawyer Amine Sidhoum remained pending before Algeria’s highest court. Amine Sidhoum was convicted in 2008 of bringing the judiciary into disrepute, in relation to comments attributed to him in a 2004 newspaper article. He was sentenced to a suspended six-month prison term and a fine.

Enforced disappearances

The authorities took no steps to investigate the thousands of enforced disappearances that took place during the internal conflict of the 1990s.

  • No progress was made towards uncovering the truth about the fate of Fayçal Benlatreche who disappeared in 1995, and in bringing those responsible to justice. His father, who had continued to campaign for truth and justice over many years and who founded the Association of the Families of the Disappeared in Constantine, died in September.

In August, a government minister was reported to have said that almost 7,000 families of the disappeared had accepted financial compensation from the state, totalling 11 billion dinars (about US$14 million). Farouk Ksentini, head of the CNCPPDH, was reported to have called for an official public apology to be made to the families of the disappeared but to have described some of their demands for truth and justice as impossible to realize.

Associations of families of the disappeared faced harassment and constraints to their work, but nevertheless continued to hold protests.