Incommunicado detention/fear of torture or other ill-treatment

PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 28/011/2006
20 June 2006

UA 173/06 Incommunicado detention/fear of torture or other ill-treatment

ALGERIA Two Algerian men, known as « V » and « I »

The UK authorities deported two Algerian men, known as “V” and “I”, to Algeria on 16 and 17 June respectively, on the grounds that they presented a “threat to the national security” of the UK. The men’s families have had no contact with them since they arrived at Algiers airport, and Amnesty International fears that they are being held in a military barracks in Algiers, part of which is used as a secret detention centre, and that they are at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

In London the Algerian consulate had reportedly assured the men that they were not wanted for any crimes in Algeria and that they would be released after they had spent a few hours in police custody at the airport to satisfy formalities. Despite this, the men have been held at an undisclosed location since they arrived, and have been allowed no contact with their families, in violation of Algerian law.

When the men’s relatives made enquiries, the authorities confirmed that they had arrived in Algeria and were in custody, but would not say where or why, or give permission to visit them.

Amnesty International fears that the men are held by a military intelligence agency, the Department for Information and Security (Département du renseignement et de la sécurité, DRS). It specializes in interrogating people thought to possess information about terrorist activities. DRS detainees are routinely held in secret places of detention, allowed no contact with the outside world, and there are persistent reports of torture and other ill-treatment.

“V” and “I” were among a group of men the UK authorities labelled as “suspected international terrorists” and held either in prison or under house arrest on the basis of secret intelligence which has not been disclosed to them or their lawyers and which they have therefore been unable to challenge. Both men had been held in Long Lartin prison since 2005, awaiting deportation. “V” and “I” faced a stark choice: either continue to challenge their deportation to Algeria and face continued detention in high-security prisons far away from their families, friends and communities for years on end, or face an uncertain future fraught with risk by returning to that country. To pursue their appeal against deportation would have meant a legal battle involving the use against them of secret intelligence never disclosed to them or their lawyers and a standard of proof heavily weighted in favour of the government. “V” and “I” lost all faith in the possibility that they would receive any meaningful justice in the UK. In March 2006, they withdrew their appeals against the deportation orders. They preferred to return to Algeria, despite the risks they would face.

Anyone suspected of involvement in terrorist activities, or who is believed to possess information about terrorist activities in Algeria or abroad, faces a real risk of secret detention and torture in Algeria. Amnesty International has received dozens of reports of detainees treated in this way, among them people who had returned to Algeria from overseas, either voluntarily or at the hands of foreign governments.

Under Article 51 of the Algerian Criminal Procedures Code, detainees suspected of “terrorist or subversive acts” may be held without charge for a maximum of 12 days. The arresting authorities must immediately give them the opportunity to communicate with their families and to receive visits from them. In addition, any detention beyond four days has to be authorized in writing by the public prosecutor.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Arabic, French, English or your own language:
– expressing concern that the men known as “V” and “I”, deported by the UK government on 16 and 17 June respectively, are detained at an undisclosed location and that their families are not able to communicate with them, in violation of Article 51 of the Algerian Penal Procedures Code;
– urging the authorities to ensure that they are treated humanely in custody, and protected from torture and other ill-treatment;
– calling on the authorities to tell their families where they are detained and why, and to ensure that “V” and “I” can communicate with their families immediately and are given any medical attention they may require;
– calling on the authorities to release them unless they are promptly charged with a recognizably criminal offence and tried within a reasonable time.

His Excellency Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Président de la République, Présidence de la République, El Mouradia, Alger, Algeria
Fax: +213 21 609618
+213 21 691595
E-mail: [email protected]
Salutation: Your Excellency/Excellence

Justice Minister
His Excellency Tayeb Belaiz
Ministre de la Justice, Ministère de la Justice
8 Place Bir Hakem, 16030 El Bihar, Alger, Algeria
Fax: +213 21 922956
+213 21 921701
+213 21 925557
Salutation: Your Excellency/Excellence

Foreign Minister
His Excellency Mohamed Bedjaoui
Ministre des Affaires Etrangères, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères
Place Mohamed Seddik Benyahia, 16070 El Mouradia, Alger, Algeria
Fax: +213 21 504141
+213 21 504242
Salutation: Your Excellency/Excellence

Official human rights body, reporting to president
Commission nationale consultative de promotion et de protection des droits de l’Homme
M. Mustapha Farouk Ksentinin (Président)
Palais du Peuple, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, Alger, Algeria
Fax: + 213 21 239037
+213 21 239005

and to diplomatic representatives of Algeria accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 1 August 2006.