July 12, 2006
Evidence of Torture in Algeria
Amnesty International released a report Monday on evidence of torture by Algeria’s military arm in secret locations
Based on a series of case studies collected between 2002 and 2006, the report, Unrestrained Powers: Torture by Algeria’s Military Security,examines several cases of torture or other ill-treatment by the DRS (Département du renseignement et de la sécurité) in secret detention centres without access to lawyers, independent doctors, family, or any civilian oversight. The paper shows how the “war on terror” is serving as an excuse to perpetuate torture by Algeria’s “Military Security” intelligence agency.
“As a first step, President Bouteflika should acknowledge the disturbing allegations of abuse documented in this report and publicly commit to investigating them. He must also ensure that DRS officers no longer arrest or detain suspects and that any responsible for torture or mistreatment of detainees are promptly brought to justice,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
Countries such as Canada, France, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Spain have forcibly returned individuals suspected of terrorist activities to Algeria despite that the DRS usually detains and interrogates such individuals.
An article on Aljazeera reported that the most common means of torture supposedly used by the DRS are beatings, electric shocks, and “chiffon” – the forced drinking of dirty water, urine or chemicals through a cloth stuffed into a detainee’s mouth. About 150,000 people – Islamists, civilians, military – including 17.000 Islamist rebels, died in an insurgency triggered in 1992 by the Algerian army’s decision to cancel legislative elections that an Islamist party was poised to win.
The report makes a series of recommendations to the Algerian government:
- DRS officers should no longer be allowed to arrest or detain suspects, given the persistence of allegations of torture perpetrated by DRS and the lack of any oversight over their arrest and detention procedures of the DRS;
- legislation should be amended to ensure that anyone who is taken into detention will be granted prompt access to a lawyer;
- legal provisions introduced in February 2006 that contravene Algeria’s obligation to investigate and punish torture and ill-treatment and criminalize free expression about state abuses should be repealed.
- foreign governments should stop the forcible return of individuals to Algeria if they would be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.