Urgent Action Update: INVESTIGATE TORTURE OF WHISTLEBLOWER (Algeria: UA 43.22)
July 13, 2022
Mohamed Benhlima is an activist, former military official and whistleblower who exposed alleged corruption by high-ranking Algerian military officials online. He sought asylum in Spain but the Spanish authorities refouled him to Algeria in March 2022. The Algerian authorities subjected him to torture and ill-treatment and imprisoned him in El Harrash prison in Algiers before moving him to El-Blida military prison. He is undergoing trials on several cases before the military and civil courts. He was sentenced to death in absentia, while still an asylum seeker in Spain, on charges of espionage and desertion.
Please take action as-soon-as possible. This Urgent Action expires on September 7, 2022.
Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 43.22. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.
President of the Republic of Algeria, Abdelmagid Tebboune
Présidence de la République
Place Mohammed Seddik Benyahia, El Mouradia, Alger, 16000 Algèrie
Fax: +213 02169 15 95
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Ahmed Boutache
Embassy of the People’s
Democratic Republic of Algeria
2118 Kalorama Rd. NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 265 2800 I Fax: 202 986 5906
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
I am writing to raise concern about torture allegations made by whistleblower Mohamed Benhlima, who has been in solitary confinement in El-Blida military prison since April 28, 2022. He is being held in a small cell with only 10-minute breaks daily without any contact with other prisoners. On June 19, 2022, he testified in front of the judge in Kolea court that military security agents in S’hawla intelligence center in Algiers subjected him to torture and other ill-treatment for many days after his refoulement to Algeria on March 24, 2022. The allegations include him being stripped naked and freezing water poured on his body.
During their bi-weekly visits, his family reported visible weight loss, pale face and dark circles under his eyes. During the June 19, 2022, visit, his family noticed his moustache was plucked, not shaved, and both his hands and arms had many little holes as if his skin had been pierced by what could have been a nail clipper or a hot instrument. His family requested an investigation into the torture allegations in a letter that they addressed to the Algerian authorities including the Military Attorney General, the President of the Republic, and the Minister of Justice on June 25, 2022. In the same letter, the family complained about the conditions of the bi-weekly visits they are allowed to pay him in El Blida military prison. The prison administration leaves the family waiting until the official visit time is almost over and that all other families have finished their visits before allowing Mohamed Benhlima’s family to see him for less than 10 minutes and in the presence of guards.
On June 19 and 22, Algerian national television aired new videos of Mohamed Benhlima entitled “new confession from terrorist Benhlima”. These videos, deemed defamatory by his lawyers, gravely violate his rights to privacy and a fair trial, and jeopardise the investigation process.
I urge you to ensure the immediate release of Mohamed Benhlima, end his prosecution under charges stemming from the exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and quash the death sentence against him. Pending his release, I urge you to ensure that he is held in conditions meeting international standards and protected from torture and other ill-treatment. Finally, I urge you to continue to grant him the right to regularly communicate with his family and lawyers and refrain from any form of intimidation against his defense team.