HRW: lettre aux autorités algériennes à propos des harcèments de la famille Sidhoum


December 20, 2002

M. Mohammed Charfi
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
8 pl. Bir Hakem, El-Biar
Algiers, Algeria

Dear Mr. Minister:

Human Rights Watch is concerned that the family of Dr. Salaheddine Sidhoum, an Algiers-based human rights defender, has been subjected to threats and pressures that are apparently intended to intimidate him and dissuade him from continuing his work.

Since January 11, 2002 when Dr. Sidhoum published on the Algeria Watch website a major study of “disappearances” and summary executions, his family has reportedly received anonymous threatening phone calls in the middle of the night.

Most recently, on December 15, two men wearing plainclothes and equipped with walkie-talkies came to the family’s residence in el-Mouradia with a warrant for Dr. Sidhoum. Upon learning that he was not home, they instructed Sidhoum’s elderly aunt to inform his wife that she must present herself to the police the following day. She was ordered to report not to the local police station but rather to the command center of the Judiciary Police’s Mobile Brigades in al-Madania, an unusual request that the family interpreted as an effort to intimidate them.

Dr. Sidhoum has for many years documented human rights conditions in Algeria. Fearing for his personal safety, he has spent much of the last decade in hiding.

The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations in 1998, in Article 12.2, obliges states to “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of their legitimate exercise of the rights [to promote and strive for the protection of human rights].”

We therefore urge your government to take all necessary measures to ensure that Dr. Sidhoum is free to collect and disseminate information about human rights conditions without fear of reprisal or prosecution, directed either at him or his relatives.

We thank you for your consideration and look forward to your comments.

Sincerely yours,

Hanny Megally

cc: Mr. Yazid Zerhouni, Minister of Interior
Mr. Idriss Jazairy, Ambassador to the United States