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Algeria Report: Zaoui at high risk of torture

12th July 2006

Algeria Report: Persistent torture by the Military Security in secret locations Ahmed Zaoui at high risk of torture if sent back to Algeria

Beatings, electric shocks and the forced ingestion of dirty water, urine and or chemicals are just some of the methods that continue to be used by Algeria's security forces with systematic impunity, Amnesty International revealed in a report published today. This report comes at the same time as the Review of the Security Risk Certificate for Ahmed Zaoui is postponed.

Ced Simpson, Director Amnesty International New Zealand said "This Amnesty International report reinforces the conclusions of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority that Mr Zaoui would be "detained and almost certainly tortured" if returned to Algeria. (Refugee Status Appeals Authority decision on Ahmed Zaoui, 1st August 2003, para 449) The Report's recommendations include calling on "foreign governments to ensure that Algerian nationals will not be forcibly returned to Algeria if they would be at risk of being arrested or detained by the DRS", due to "real risk…of torture and ill-treatment".

Based on a series of case studies collected between 2002 and 2006, the report shows how the "war on terror" is serving as an excuse to perpetuate torture and ill-treatment by Algeria's "Military Security" intelligence agency, officially known as the Department for Information and Security (Département du renseignement et de la sécurité, DRS).

The report, Unrestrained powers: Torture by Algeria's Military Security, examines several cases of torture or other ill-treatment by the DRS in secret detention centres without access to lawyers, independent doctors, family, or any civilian oversight.

A number of countries, including Canada, France, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Spain have forcibly returned individuals suspected of terrorist activities to Algeria despite the fact that it is the DRS that usually detains and interrogates such individuals. Although the civilian authorities exercise no control over the conduct and practices of the DRS, the UK government has also sought agreement under which Algerian nationals could be forcibly returned on the basis of "diplomatic assurances" that they would not be tortured.

Interrogation reports established by the DRS appear to be routinely used as evidence in court while the lack of investigations into claims of torture and other ill-treatment in Algeria is a long-standing concern of Amnesty International.

Successive measures taken by the authorities to bring closure to a decade of internal conflict, in which up to 200,000 people were killed and several thousand more "disappeared", have failed to address pressing human rights concerns and have granted wide-ranging impunity to perpetrators.

"The persistent denial of the Algerian authorities of the widespread abuse that has taken place is an indication that Algeria has some way to go in combating torture and other ill-treatment," said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. "The authorities should address the grim legacy of the past and ensure that perpetrators of torture are punished."

For a copy of the report, Unrestrained powers: Torture by Algeria's Military Security, please see: http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde280042006


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