World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Algeria: Immediate Action Needed

Algeria: Immediate Action Needed To Prevent Further Protest Killings

17 April 2002

"The Algerian authorities must take immediate action to ensure no more lives are put at risk during the policing of protests," Amnesty International said today, on the eve of the first anniversary of the death in custody of a Kabyle schoolboy.

More than 80 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by the security forces in protests following the death last year, but those responsible have still not been brought to justice. The ongoing impunity from which they benefit continues to erode the public's already depleted confidence in the rule of law in the country.

Action to protect the lives of protesters in Algeria is all the more urgent in the chilling light of the killing of some 10 unarmed demonstrators, including one allegedly aged only 14, and the injuring of dozens more by members of the security forces at the end of March and beginning of April 2002. The killings have taken place in the predominantly Amazigh (Berber) region of Kabylia in northeastern Algeria.

Some of the demonstrators are reported to have been shot dead with live ammunition, some to have been beaten or stabbed to death, and others to have died after being hit by rubber bullets or tear-gas grenades aimed at protesters' heads. The killings have occurred during the dispersal by the security forces of demonstrations about deteriorating socio-economic conditions and the arrest of hundreds of demonstrators following previous protests.

"The violations are a shocking reminder of the authorities' continuing lack of respect for the most basic human rights of its citizens," Amnesty International said. "Lethal force appears to have been used recklessly and unlawfully against demonstrators when lives were not in danger."

Tomorrow sees the first anniversary of the killing of schoolboy Massinissa Guermah, who died after being shot by a member of the security forces while being held in the custody of the gendarmerie in Kabylia. Following his death demonstrations erupted inside and outside the region. During the months of April to June 2002, more than 80 unarmed protesters were killed by the security forces and hundreds more were injured.

An official commission of inquiry established by the authorities to look into the killings in Kabylia last year published a preliminary report in July 2001. It concluded, significantly, that the gendarmerie and other security forces had repeatedly resorted to excessive use of lethal force. In its final report of December 2001 the commission was forced to concede that it could not complete its mission because many witnesses were too afraid to speak to it.

Announcements by the authorities that the individuals responsible for the killings would be brought to justice have not been followed up. Although the authorities say they have detained some 25 members of the gendarmerie on charges of murder and firearms abuse in the context of the demonstrations in Kabylia last year, 12 months on from the start of last year's wave of killings in Kabylia, no member of the security forces is known to have been prosecuted for unlawful killings or other human rights violations.

If further deaths are to be avoided during ongoing demonstrations in Algeria, the authorities must ensure, as a matter of urgency, that security forces comply with international standards governing the conduct of law-enforcement officials and the use of force and firearms and thereby respect and protect the right of life. These standards stipulate that security forces should apply non-violent means as far as possible before resorting to the use of force, and may only use lethal force when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life and when non-lethal means have been exhausted.

"They failed to apply those standards last year. They have failed again recently and, if no action is taken by the authorities to ensure that those standards are applied now, there is a serious risk that more unarmed protesters will be unlawfully killed," the organization warned.

Amnesty International calls on the authorities to ensure that full and independent investigations are conducted into all the killings of demonstrators during recent protests and that the alleged offenders are brought to justice in proceedings which meet international fair trial standards.


You may repost this message onto other sources provided the main text is not altered in any way and both the header crediting Amnesty International and this footer remain intact.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news