Algeria-Watch: Text

Chronology (part 2) published by Algeria-Watch*, 10 september 2006


11 January 2000: Presidential announcement of an « amnesty » for AIS members (the list having been drawn up long before). The AIS confirmed it had disbanded itself, with 1,565 people giving themselves up to the authorities under the provisions of the civil concord law, due to expire on 13 January. A probation committee reviews each case. No official figures were published and there is no way of establishing the details of the procedure or checking that it actually happened.

24 January 2000: Algerian foreign minister visits Paris to consolidate cooperation and encourage French business to invest.

24 February 2000: Changes in the army: General Fodhil Chérif, who led the fight against terrorism at the head of the Counter-insurgency Command Centre (CCLAS), is appointed commander of the first military region. The heads of the 3rd, 5th and 6th military regions also change. General Bousteila becomes the head of the police (gendarmerie).

29 March 2000: The regime authorises four human rights organisations (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, FIDH and Reporters Sans Frontières) to visit Algeria. They come during the first half of the year, one by one, denouncing in their respective reports continuing serious human rights violations and the impunity enjoyed by the culprits, including « repentant » Islamists guilty of murder.

1 April 2000: More than 1,000 civilians killed since the beginning of the year.

27 April 2000: French warships visit Algiers. The vice-admiral commanding France’s Mediterranean fleet discusses future military cooperation between the two countries.

8 May 2000: Ministry of Higher Education issues circular reinstating French in Arabised subjects, as well as French-language broadcasts on television.

13-17 June 2000: State visit to France by Bouteflika, with a reception in parliament. Agreement to reschedule debt amounting to Fr400m. Meeting with French business leaders. Before leaving, Bouteflika says he is « going home empty-handed, but confident ». During his visit the families of some of the « disappeared » demonstrated outside parliament.

5-12 August 2000: joint US and Algerian military manoeuvres in the Mediterranean.

12 August 2000: In an interview in Le Matin the UGTA general secretary denounces the « alarming deterioration in the economic and social situation ». Unemployment exceeds 30%. Protest movements emerge in various parts of the country, with rioting, due to unfair allocation of housing or a total freeze of the allocation process.

17 August 2000: Visit by US assistant secretary of state for near-eastern affairs.

26 August 2000: Prime minister Benbitour resigns over disagreement on privatisations.

22 September 2000: Change of government approved by parliament. Ali Benflis becomes prime minister, with Ahmed Ouyahia minister of justice, and Abdelaziz Belkhadem in charge of foreign affairs.

October 2000: Publication in France of the book by Nesroulah Yous, Qui a tué à Bentalha? (La Découverte), prompting an outcry in the Algerian press.


27 February 2001: ANP Chief of staff Mohamed Lamari pays a working visit to the headquarters of the American Forces Command in Europe. This represents the prelude to a cooperation which will intensify in the framework of « the fight against terrorism » in the Sahel region (called Pan-Sahel initiative).

February 2001: Publication in France of the book by former second-lieutenant Habib Souaïdia, La sale guerre (The Dirty War) (La Découverte), which will set off a general outcry against the author on behalf of the Algerian press and the authorities.

28 March 2001: Dissolution by decree of the ONDH (National Human Rights Observatory), an agency set up by the government after the Putsch. Its role was essentially to minimize violations committed by State institutions.

18 April 2001: A young man is killed by gendarmes in Kabylia: the region flares up and repression is brutal, with more than one hundred and fifty killed during the following weeks. Kabylia settles into a state of rebellion that lasted a few years.

25 April 2001: Three complaints are lodged with the Public Prosecutor in Paris against General Khaled Nezzar, on visit in Paris. On the same day, he was « exfiltrated » to Algiers, with the help of the French authorities.

18 June 2001: The government decides to suspend the organisation of marches in Algiers, « until further notice ».

9 October 2001: Official creation of the National Consultative Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, successor to the ONDH. Like the latter, this Commission is « a consultative surveillance, early alert and evaluation body in the human rights field ».

10 November 2001: Due to deficient infrastructures, more than nine hundred persons die in disastrous floods in the Bab-el-Oued area of Algiers.


11 January 2002: On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Putsch, Algeria-Watch, with the cooperation of Salah-Eddine Sidhoum, published a dossier on human rights violations with a list of 3,700 disappeared and 1,100 summarily executed persons, as well as the chronology of the massacres.

7 February 2002: First round of WTO negotiations in Geneva.

23 May 2002: Algerian authorities alleged an « incident » in Kabylia with a police escort for a France 2 television team, preventing foreign journalists to go to Kabylia as from the following day. According to the Ministry of Communication, the escort « was set upon by demonstrators » in the Tizi-Ouzou region. General elections need to be held in camera in this region in turmoil since more than a year.

30 May 2002: General elections marked by fraud and abstentions: the FLN – falling once more into the lap of the Generals’ regime – obtains the absolute majority in the Assembly.

1-5 July 2002: Court hearings in Paris in the action for libel brought by General Khaled Nezzar against second-lieutenant Habib Souaïdia. General Nezzar lost the case.


January 2003: In Paris, opening of the « Year of Algeria » in France, official Franco-Algerian event during which cultural events are organized throughout France.

2-4 March 2003: French President Jacques Chirac pays an official visit to Algeria. The « Algiers Declaration » is signed by the two Algerian and French Heads of State. This declaration of intent aims at strengthening the relations between the two countries in all fields and is to lead to the signature of a « Treaty of Friendship » in 2005.

Between mid-February and mid-March 2003: Thirty-one European tourists (fifteen Germans, ten Austrians, four Swiss, one Dutch and one Swede) are kidnapped by an armed group in Southern Algeria.

5 May 2003: discharge of Head of Government, Ali Benflis. Ahmed Ouyahia is appointed to this post that he had occupied five years earlier. Benflis had been re-elected on March 19th at the head of the FLN with extensive prerogatives further emancipating him from Bouteflika.

14 May 2003: A first group of seventeen European abducted tourists is set free.

21 May 2003: Earthquake in the Boumerdès region (fifty-odd kilometres from the capital city) causes more than 2,000 dead and as many missing persons.

2 July 2003: At the end of their term, release of Abassi Madani and Ali Benhadj, the two main Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) leaders, in prison since June 1991. They are banned from any political activity. Authorities expel foreign correspondents come to cover the event.

Summer 2003: Revelation in the Algerian press (e.g. Le Matin) of corruption of staggering proportions. President Bouteflika and several Ministers of his government are mentioned by name, with details of the financial and real estate despoliations for which they are to blame.

6 August 2003: Establishment by the President of an « ad hoc mechanism » addressing the issue of the « disappeared ». Its mandate is to last eighteen months. It is not a board of enquiry, but rather a « management and interface centre » between public authorities and families of missing persons.

19 August 2003: The fifteen abducted tourists who were still in the hands of their kidnappers have been freed. One of the victims died during detention.

August 2003: Fierce attack on private press, summoned to pay its debts to the State printing office within three days; various complaints for libel against the Head of State; summons of journalists and officials. Part of the private press decides not to appear on 22 September.

9 September 2003: First preparations for dialogue between government and the aârouchs (tribe and family representatives in Kabylia). The latter insist upon the implementation of the El-Kseur platform which was developed at the time of the riots from April 2001 on.

29 September 2003: Doctor Salah-Eddine Sidhoum, surgeon and human rights advocate, living underground since 1994 after an assassination attempt and a sentence in absentia of twenty years imprisonment for « supporting terrorism », decides to appear before justice. He starts a complete hunger strike. An international campaign requests his unconditional release.

16 October 2003: Salah-Eddine Sidhoum is tried and found not guilty.

November 2003: Remains found in a common grave have been identified as those of a man who was abducted and missing in Relizane.

November 2003: Justified by the presence of terrorists in the region, possibly confirmed by the hostage-taking of European tourists a few month beforehand, the Americans implement the so-called « Pan-Sahel » initiative while restructuring their military bases in the world. Around twelve military bases are planned in the region: in Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Ghana, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

5 December 2003: M. Abderrahmane El-Mehdi Mosbah lodged a complaint against major general Larbi Belkheir with the public prosecutor of Paris, for acts of torture.

9 December 2003: Action against persons unknown lodged with the high court of Paris by the Lebreton family and father Armand Veilleux, for the abduction and assassination of seven French monks in Tibhirine, Algeria, in 1996. Since then, Algerian officials (in particular President Bouteflika) reluctantly acknowledged that the assassination of the monks could be the doings of the DRS.


Beginning of 2004: Unofficial launch of the campaign for the Presidential elections due April 8th.

1 March 2004: Among the nine candidates for the Presidential elections, six have been accepted by the Constitutional Council: Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Ali Benflis (FLN secretary general), Abdellah Saâd Djaballah (secretary general of the El-Islah party), Louisa Hanoune (spokeswoman for the Workers’ party), Saïd Sadi (secretary general of RCD- Rally for Culture and Democracy) and Faouzi Rebaïne (President of Ahd 54). The FFS (Socialist Forces Front) calls for a boycott, several politicians denounce fraudulent manoeuvres from the start of the preparations for the elections.

The army claims to be neutral and not to have a candidate.

March 2004: Amari Saifi, alias Abderrezak El-Para, presented as n°2 of the GSPC (Salafist group for predication and battle) and responsible for the abduction, in 2003, of 32 European tourists, is arrested by Chad rebels with several of his men, in the Tibesti.

8 April 2004: Presidential elections. According to the Ministry of the Interior, turnout was 57.78%, i.e. half of the 18 million voters went to vote. Abdelaziz Bouteflika is elected after the first round with 85% of the votes, Ali Benflis who was presented as his first rival obtains only 6.5%. The opposition suggests plebiscite and denounces fraud, but the Constitutional Council confirms the announced figures. There is question of a deal between the army and Bouteflika.

15 April 2004: One week after Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s victory, French President Jacques Chirac welcomes his « brilliant » re-election and dismisses the incrimination of fraud on the word of reports from international observers. The 6-hour visit is mainly used to show the French support of the Bouteflika election, all the more that at one stage Chirac’s government seemed to bet on Ali Benflis.

June-July 2004: There are numerous sentences against journalists for libel or offences that they did not commit, aiming at punishing them for their opposition to the President of the Republic or to the regime’s big shots: Hassan Bourras, correspondent in El Bayadh (West Algeria) for several daily newspapers and correspondent for the Algerian human rights League, is sentenced to two years imprisonment; Hafnaoui Ghoul, correspondent of the El-Youm daily in Djelfa (150 km south of Algiers) and correspondent for the Algerian human rights League, is imprisoned since May 24th, 2004, and will spend 6 months in prison; Mohamed Benchicou, director of the daily Le Matin is sentenced to two years imprisonment, Ahmed Bennaoum and Ahmed Oukili, respectively Chairman-Managing-Director and Publications Manager of the Erraï newspaper are sentenced to two months imprisonment, while other journalists are condemned to deferred sentences and heavy fines.

19 July 2004: French Minister of Defence, Michèle Alliot-Marie’s visit is the first since independence. It seems that a « framework agreement for military cooperation » has been prepared and will be signed in the autumn. This will allow exchanges between the two countries in several fields, such as intelligence, weapon supplies or training of troops.

27 July 2004: French Minister of Economy and Finance, Nicolas Sarkozy, visited Algiers and signed with his Algerian counterpart a « cooperation memorandum for growth and development ». In fact, it concerns 2 billion euros that France grants Algeria in the form of targeted « financial assistance »: 288 million euros for the conversion of debts into investment, 750 million euros for credit on concessions and 1 billion euros for guaranteed commercial credit.

1 August 2004: General Mohamed Lamari resigns as chief of staff, position that he had occupied since 1994. He is one of the January 1992 putschists and head of the CC/ALAS (Anti-subversion command) when set up in 1992. He lost the match opposing him to Bouteflika whose candidature he did not support and stepped down from his post. General Ahmed Gaïd Salah takes his place and shortly after proceeds with new appointments of commanding officers in the military regions.

1 0ctober 2004: At a meeting in Holland, the EU Ministers of the Interior decide to financially support the creation of national asylum systems in Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. Algeria refuses the establishment of transit centres on its territory.

11 October 2004: A raid by the tax inspection brigade, the gendarmes and the price and quality control unit in Ghardaia downtown shops sparks off the anger of the shopkeepers. They go on strike and gather near the seat of the willaya (prefecture) to be received by the wali. This being refused, they continue their gathering until the evening and pursue the following day. Police forces step in, set fire to the shopkeepers’ mopeds, break car windows, hit people and arrest some fifty persons, shopkeepers, LADDH (Algerian human rights League) and FFS (Socialist Forces Front) activists. Four League activists are arrested, while warrants are issued against five members of their bureau and the leaders of the FFS federation. The Wali refuses to free the arrested persons, a riot breaks out and will last several days. The conflict will last weeks, more than 30 persons will be arrested. A warrant is issued against Kamel Eddine Fekhar, elected member of the FFS in Ghardaia, who has fled to Algiers.

27 October 2004: Abderrezak El-Para, responsible for the abduction of 32 European tourists is handed over to the Algerian authorities. Neither the Americans nor the Germans, who were so eager to lay their hands on the so-called « Ben Laden of the desert » seemed to be interested.

31 October 2004: Shortly after the conference between Aït Ahmed, FFS President, Abdelhamid Mehri, former secretary general of the FLN, and Mouloud Hamrouche, former head of government, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the battle for liberation, Kamel Eddine Fekhar, elected member of the FFS in Ghardaia and member of the LADDH, wanted in relation to the October disturbances in Ghardaia, was arrested.

31 October 2004: President Bouteflika delivers a speech on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the battle for liberation. He asserts his determination to carry on a merciless struggle against terrorism and announces his intention to promulgate a general amnesty in the context of « national reconciliation », initiative that he wishes to submit to a referendum among the population. For months the press will simulate a debate around this issue, the outlines of which remain unknown.


January 2005: Due to the price increase for butane gas that many inhabitants use for heating, riots break out in different regions of the country (Djelfa, Mascara, Kherrata, Bouira, Bejaia, Tiaret, etc). In this unusually cold winter, the State increased the price, but shortage and retailer speculation made gas containers shoot up to as much as three times their normal value. Fuel prices rocketed also, entailing increases in transport fees. Overall strong-arm police forces were brought in against the rioters. Dozens were arrested and often heavily sentenced with imprisonment for « disturbing law and order and civil disobedience ».

23 February 2005: The French Parliament adopted a law on the Nation’s gratitude and national contribution towards the French repatriated settlers from Algeria in which article 4 stipulates: « School curricula specifically acknowledge the positive role of the French presence overseas, more particularly in North Africa, and grant the history and the sacrifices of the French army servicemen coming from these territories, the distinguished place that they deserve. » Sharp protests were voiced in France, while in Algeria, the law seems to be passed over in silence.

27 February 2005: Promulgation of an order modifying and completing law n°84-11 of 9 June 1984 on the Family code.

14 March 2005: The Algerian Parliament ratifies the association agreement with the European Union signed in 2001. It should come into force in September 2005.

20 March 2005: The law on hydrocarbon compounds is adopted by the Algerian Parliament. Inter alia, it foresees abandoning State monopoly on hydrocarbon activities via concession agreements.

31 March 2005: M. Farouk Ksentini, President of the ad hoc Commission, given the responsibility by the President to get to the bottom of the issue of the disappeared, has handed over his report to the President of the Republic. He informs that the exact number of disappeared abducted by the security forces adds up to 6,146 persons. Missing persons family associations express strong protest against the activities of this instrument which has no investigation power whatsoever. They maintain that the number of disappeared is much higher (they claim to possess more than 8,000 files) and denounce the fact that « this commission recommends once more to close the dossier by granting compensations ».

5 April 2005: Release of Dr Kamel Eddine Fekhar, FFS (Socialist Forces Front) federal secretary and activist with the Algerian human rights League (LADDH), who was arrested on the day before 1st November 2004. He had been accused of « illegal gathering » and « obstruction of the public highway » and sentenced to 5 months imprisonment because of the riots having agitated the town of Ghardaia in October 2004.

8 April 2005: The President announces his national programme for the support of economic growth (PSCE) for 2005-2009. A 55 billion dollar budget is foreseen for « the improvement of the population’s living conditions » (45,4%) in particular in the field of housing, university, education, drinking water supplies, etc. Prospects for such expenditures attract foreign investors.

8 May 2005: On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the massacres committed by the French in Setif and Guelma, President Bouteflika delivers an extremely harsh speech. One even wonders whether the signature of the « friendship treaty » between Algeria and France foreseen before end 2005 is not in jeopardy. During the following weeks, strong controversy on the 25 February law will weigh heavily on the relations between the two countries. Nevertheless, the signature of the « friendship treaty » appears not to be jeopardised.

25 June 2005: Amari Saifi alias Abderrezak El-Para, responsible for the abduction of tourists in the Sahara desert in 2003 is sentenced for life for « setting up an armed group having spread terror among the population ». He did not appear and the criminal court’s President in Algiers declared: « Amari Saïfi is considered as not imprisoned. » Although he is in the hands of the Algerian authorities since 27 October 2004.

29 June 2005: Foreign Affairs Ministers of the 5+5 group, gathering ten West Mediterranean European and Maghreb countries, meet in Malta at a conference on illegal immigration.

1 July 2005: End of joint military manoeuvres in the Sahel, called ‘Flintlock 2005’ aiming – according to the Americans – at securing borders between African countries against terrorist infiltration. Under the command of the American forces in Europe, they gathered 800 American soldiers and 2000 Africans from Mali, Niger, Chad, Mauritania and Algeria. The manoeuvres lasted several weeks.

5 July 2005: A delegation of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (IFHR) is in Algiers on a 5-day information mission.

19 July 2005: The new law on hydrocarbon compounds is published in the Official Journal. The new text separates the role of the State, owner of the mining land, regulator and protector of the general interest, from that of the public company (Sonatrach), economic and commercial operator similarly to other operators. Article 48 however provides that ‘each research and mining contract will contain a clause granting Sonatrach SPA, when it is not one of the contracting parties, the option to participate in the mining activity up to a share of 30%, but no lower than 20%’.

21 July 2005: Abduction of two Algerian diplomats in Bagdad.

27 July 2005: According to press agencies, the group of the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abou Moussab al-Zarqaoui, would have announced the execution of the two abducted Algerian diplomats. Al-Zarqaoui will later refute this information. The bodies of the two men were never found.

27 July 2005: During a TV appearance on the al-Jazeera channel on the abduction and assassination of the two Algerian diplomats in Iraq, Ali Benhadj, Vice-President of FIS, dissolved in 1992, is questioned by the Algerian police. He will be accused of praising terrorist crimes, incitement to murder and publication of written material defending terrorism.

27 July 2005: The French satirical newspaper Le Canard enchaîné reveals that an US military base is set up near Tamanrasset gathering about 400 American special forces men to combat terrorism in the Sahel, information which is always denied by American and Algerian officials.

5 August 2005: Dismissal of five senior officers from the military institution, due to the changes undertaken by the President since his re-election in April 2004. Among these, Major General Mohamed Touati, counsellor to the Presidency of the Republic on defence matters, and the General Secretary of the Ministry of Defence (MDN), General Ahmed Senhadji. The commands of the Republican Guard and of the Naval Forces also undergo changes a few days later.

14 August 2005: Speech by President A. Bouteflika announcing a referendum on 29 September on a draft charter for ‘peace and national reconciliation’.

14 August 2005: Publication of the draft charter for ‘peace and national reconciliation’ that provides for the extinguishment of law-suits against those who give themselves up to the authorities and who have not participated in mass massacres, rapes or bomb attacks in public places, as well as the amnesty of security forces. These announcements entail sharp protests from the families of the disappeared as well as from the victims of State terrorism and of armed groups, and from human rights organisations and some opposition parties, demanding the truth on the crimes committed since 1992 and the trial of all those responsible for crimes. A genuine debate involving politicians, the opposition and human rights groups is not allowed.

23 August 2005: General Larbi Belkheir is officially appointed Ambassador in Rabat. He is seen as the regime’s muscleman, the ‘éminence grise’, member of the handful of generals called ‘Januarists’ who fomented the coup d’état in January 1992.

1 September 2005: The association agreement between Algeria and the European Union comes into force.

9 September 2005: Arrest of M’hamed Benyamina at Oran airport on his way to Paris where he lives with his family. The arrest is based on information forwarded by the ‘Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire’ (DST, the French intelligence service) to the Algerian security services. He disappears during more than 5 months, is tortured and is involved in a plan to attack Orly airport and DST headquarters. French authorities will not request his extradition.

22 September 2005: Second congress of the Algerian Human Rights League (LADDH). The lawyer Hocine Zahouane takes over from lawyer Ali Yahia Abdenour at the head of the League.

24 September 2005: While discussions are in progress on the return of exiled FIS leaders and their future political activities, M. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of the Republic, during a speech given in Laghouat, maintains that the ‘leaders of the dissolved party who set Algeria on fire’ should not claim any further political activity.

29 September 2005: Referendum on the adoption of the Charter for ‘peace and national reconciliation’. Officially, 80% of the registered electorate went to vote and 97% of the votes were in favour of the charter. These figures are forcefully contested by the opposition. Washington and Paris welcome the steps taken by the President and greet the referendum.

6 October 2005: Hundreds of refugees try to cross the borders of Ceuta on 29 September and of Melilla on 6 October. Eleven of them are killed. Europe increasingly focuses on the issue only from a security viewpoint aiming at extending its frontiers and shifting the responsibility for their control on southern transit countries, in particular Algeria. The country tolerates informal refugee camps with deplorable living conditions and drives back thousands of people every year towards the South and Morocco.

7 November 2005: Two members of the local FFS federation and of the regional Algerian Human Rights League (LADDH) are arrested and placed under surveillance. They are accused of murder. The local FFS federation is convinced that it is a ‘hatched plot’.

9 November 2005: The Government Council examined and adopted a preliminary bill fixing the terms and rules for the practice of other religions than Islam. The text contains provisions aiming at putting ‘an end to anarchical activities of associations and foreign persons, and controlling by the force of law any attempts to proselytize’.

14 November 2005: In the course of the year, there have been dozens of riots and revolts violently quelled and causing many dead, wounded and detentions among the young rebels. Whether they concerned transport fares increases, unfair housing allocations, water or electricity shortage, the protests were the expression of the poverty of the population while the State coffers were overflowing with petrodollars.

26 November 2005: President A. Bouteflika is admitted in the military hospital of Val-de-Grâce in Paris. Speculations on the future of the country are circulating, as contradictory rumours spread on the state of his health. Some even report his death.

3-4 December 2005: Strong-arm evacuation of the informal refugee camp near Maghnia. Refugees are transported by lorry towards an unknown destination. They will probably be driven back through the southern borders.

7 December 2005: At the National Day for the new international Convention on the protection of persons against forced disappearances, former President of the LADDH, Ali Yahia Abdennour, declared that the actual number of forced disappearances is thrice higher than the official figure. The latter had been estimated at 6146 cases by Farouk Ksentini, President of the National consultative committee on the promotion and protection of human rights (CNCPPDH).

9 December 2005: After 10 months controversy on the famous article 4 of the French law of 23 February praising colonisation, for the first time, the French Head of State takes a stand on the much debated amendment. He denied the legislator the authority to write history. ‘This is the task of historians’, he said. The controversial debates in France were taken up in Algeria and in the West Indies and seem to have delayed the signature of the friendship treaty between Algeria and France foreseen at the end of the year.

30 December 2005: After five weeks in hospital and convalescence, President Bouteflika reappears for the signature of the finance law for 2006.


2 January 2006: During the year 2005, 18 journalists have been sentenced to imprisonment by the Algerian Courts.

14 January 2006: According to the newspaper ‘Le Jeune Indépendant’, in 2005, France deported 3,400 Algerians out of a total of 20,000 foreigners who were escorted back to the frontier.

22 January 2006: The Bouira Court sentenced to the death penalty in absentia Habib Souaidia, author of the book La Sale Guerre (The Dirty War), published in France in 2000. He is accused of having abducted three persons in 1994, who he might have assassinated. Souaidia, an acknowledged political refugee in France, was not summoned to his trial.

23 January 2006: The Algeria-Watch association issues a communiqué in which it states the disappearance of Nouamane Meziche since 5 January 2006. This Franco-Algerian living in Germany was arrested by the police at Algiers airport on his arrival from Frankfurt. The same day, on the Algerian radio, the President of the National consultative committee on the promotion and protection of human rights (CNCPPDH) declares that there are no ‘disappeared persons’ ‘secretly’ detained by the State.

9 February 2006: The state of emergency established on 9 February 1992 is still in force and no official declaration leads to believe that it will be lifted in the near future.

12 February 2006: Opacity surrounds a visit by Donald Rumsfeld, American Defence Secretary of State. According to the American agency Associated Press (AP), the visit aims at building ‘a tight military relationship’.

15 February 2006: Equally non-transparent visit by Jack Straw, head of British diplomacy. The issue of Algerians imprisoned in England without judgment may have been raised.

17 February 2006: Revelations on tortures inflicted by French policemen on Algerians suspected of links with terrorism.

19 February 2006: Naamane Meziche turns up again: he appears before the examining magistrate. He had disappeared after his arrest at Algiers airport on 5 January 2006.

20 February 2006: In Algiers, opening of an international seminar on the fight against terrorism in the Maghreb and Sahel-Sahara region, with the participation of eight African countries among which Algeria, and American and European partners.

25 February 2006: Higher education teachers start a one-week strike (from 25 February to 2 March) in response to the call of the National Council of Higher Education Teachers (CNES). Claims involve salary increases, a specific statute for teachers-cum-researchers, democratisation of university management by organising elections of deans and heads of departments, generalisation of the Specific Post Allowance (ISP) that represents 80% of the salary, allocation of housing facilities to teachers and regularisation of the housing situation already allocated since the year 2000.

28 February 2006: Publication of the order implementing the charter for peace and national reconciliation, together with three enforcement decrees. Every person involved in terrorist matters, but without committing massacres, rape or bomb attacks, is granted the extinguishment of public legal action if he/she is in prison or surrenders to the authorities within a period of six months. The great novelty is that total amnesty is codified for security service members in all their forms. The text also foresees that those who question the official version of the ‘national tragedy’ may be sentenced to 3 to 5 years’ imprisonment. The sentence is doubled in the event of a second offence.

28 February 2006: The Council of Ministers examined and adopted a bill determining the rules for the practice of religions other than Islam.

6 March 2006: Release of Ali Benhadj, arrested on 27 July 2005. In accordance with the provisions of the order implementing the charter for peace, he is granted the extinguishment of all lawsuits.

12 March 2006: Families of victims of terrorism gathered in front of the Government palace, in Algiers, to cry out « their grief and refusal to support this ‘memory assassination’ policy ». The order implementing the charter raises protests from different national and international victims and human rights organisations.

21 March 2006: At a press conference, Head of Government Ahmed Ouyahia revealed that the 1998 massacres in Ramka and Had Chekala (Relizane) affected 1,000 people. Three entire villages had been decimated. At the time, authorities mentioned the figure of 150 people killed.

23 March 2006: Ten years after the abduction of seven French monks in Tibehirine, who were assassinated in May 1996, Patrick Baudouin, the lawyer of their families, denounces the long-drawn-out investigations carried out in France by anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguière. No inquiry has been carried out in Algeria.

29 March 2006: Rachid Ramda is sentenced to ten years imprisonment by the Paris magistrate’s court for having participated in and funded the attacks against the RER in the Saint-Michel station in 1995. The bombings killed 8 persons and wounded more than 200. He was extradited last December from London, where he had spent ten years in prison because British authorities refused to extradite him to France. He proclaims his innocence. He still has to appear before the Court of Assizes.

30 March 2006: The United Nations Committee on Human Rights made public its findings on the arrest of Salah Saker in May 1994, who has since disappeared. The Committee declared the Algerian State guilty of ‘serious violations’ in respect of forced disappearances.

2 April 2006: New arrest of M’Hamed Benyamina who had been imprisoned on 9 September 2005 and had disappeared for more than 5 months before being set free early March 2006.

19 April 2006: The Pentagon published a list of 558 prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay camp, among whom 25 Algerians.

24 April 2006: Amnesty International referred to the President of the Republic with a memorandum called « Algeria: Torture in the ‘War on Terror' » in which it condemns the practice of torture in Algeria.

27 April 2006: The United Nations Committee on Human Rights made public its findings on the abduction of Riad Boucherf in June1995, who has since disappeared. The Committee declared the Algerian State guilty of ‘serious violations’ in respect of forced disappearances.

3 May 2006: On the occasion of the International Day of Freedom of the Press, a measure of pardon was promulgated in favour of journalists.

9 May 2006: Since March, the Algerian army is engaged in a military offensive in the Seddat Mountains, in the Jijel wilaya where an armed group is said to have taken refuge. During the final assault, chemical arms would have been used to be done with people entrenched in a cave. Fifty-two people (among whom twenty-two children, seven women and twenty-three presumed terrorists) are said to have died during this raid.

23 May 2006: Memorandum by the Socialist Forces Front on the situation of human rights in Algeria addressed to Mrs Louise Harbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
24 May 2006: Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, RND general secretary, in office since 2003, is replaced by Abdelaziz Belkhadem, FLN general secretary. Ouyahia is considered as one of Mohamed Médiène’s men, head of the DRS. The rest of the Ouyahia government continues.

7 June 2006: During the visit of Kim Howells, British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, discussions concern an extradition agreement allowing Great Britain to drive back to the borders Algerians in particular involved in the project of a ricine attack for which they had been judged and acquitted. These men are still in prison in Great Britain.

14 June 2006: The Director of the daily newspaper Le Matin, Mohamed Benchicou, who was arrested in 2004 and sentenced to two years imprisonment for ‘violation of exchange control’, is released. In fact, he was condemned for having published, before the April 2004 Presidential elections, a scathing attack against President Bouteflika.

16 and 17 June 2006: British authorities expel two Algerians identified by the initials ‘V’ and ‘I’, who were members of a group of four Algerians acquitted after the so-called ‘ricine plot’ trial in April 2005. Both are arrested on their arrival in Algiers and disappear for a few days in a DRS centre. They are only released on 22 June.

24 June 2006: The President is said to have frozen the law on hydrocarbons which had been adopted and published in the Official Journal on 19 July 2005. No enforcement decree has been published to date.

4 July 2006: SOS Disparus and the CFDA (Alliance of Families of Disappeared in Algeria) were informed of the disappearance since three months of Abdelmajid Touati, from Tiaret, after his arrest in the street by security services.

4 July 2006: Algeria-Watch obtains information on the arrest in the Jijel region of four persons in the night of Wednesday 26 to Thursday 27 April by DRS agents. They were transferred to their headquarters in Jijel where they were atrociously tortured and illegally confined during a week.

5 July 2006: On the occasion of the 44th Anniversary of Independence Day, on 5th July 2006, all journalists who had been sentenced to press offences are pardoned.

10 July 2006: Amnesty International publishes a report demonstrating that the ‘war against terrorism’ is used as justification for continued tortures and other ill-treatments committed by the Information and Security Department (DRS).

17 August 2006: The Alliance of Families of Disappeared in Algeria (CFDA) and SOS Disparus announce that Mohamed Amine Rabah Ajine has disappeared since 19 June. The Ajine family was informed of his presence in the Antar barracks (Algiers) via a relative of a prisoner in jail with him. Likewise, Zinedine Belaacel, Madjid Touati and Mohamed El Habib Boukhami and many other people are secretly held prisoners in the DRS Antar barracks, following a wave of arrests affecting the Tiaret wilaya since several months.

21 August 2006: Mr Yazid Zerhouni, Minister of the Interior and of Local Communities, announces that the referendum on the revision of the Constitution will be held before the end of the year.

21 August 2006: A few days before the end of the grace period granted by the authorities to the underground armed groups still in operation, in application of the order on the Charter for peace and national reconciliation, according to the Minister of the Interior, Yazid Zerhouni, 250 to 300 persons are said to have surrendered to the authorities.

26 August 2006: The President of the Republic, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, signed a decree on the compensation of the victims of the events that shook Kabylia between 2001 and 2004.


* Chronology drawn up by Salima Mellah and published in the annex to the work by Habib Souaïdia, Le Procès de La Sale Guerre, La Découverte, Paris, 2002. She added to the chronology for Lounis Aggoun and Jean-Baptiste Rivoire, Françagérie: Crimes et mensonges d’Etats, La Découverte, Paris 2005 and also to this publication.