The political violence in Algeria since 1992 has cost an estimated 60,000 lives.23 The precise figures are unknown, as are the proportions of security forces, armed opposition militants, and civilians who have been killed and the extent to which the militants or the security forces and paramilitary forces are responsible. Censorship, fear and other factors have prevented an accurate accounting of the casualties.

The widespread, vicious, and often random nature of the violence has created a climate of fear and terror among the population. While some categories of civilians may be at particular risk, many Algerians do not understand who is being targeted or by whom. The identity of those carrying out the violence is difficult to establish, as the security force and the armed groups often conduct themselves in similar ways: the former often wear civilian clothes and do not identify themselves, while the latter sometimes disguise themselves as security forces when stopping cars on the roads or attempting to gain entry to a building.

Human Rights Watch has interviewed many Algerians who described a sense of being caught between both sides. Young men have been threatened with death by armed groups if they do not join them or if they answer the military draft. Yet they also feared that if they did not report to the military barracks they would be suspected of supporting the armed groups, and face imprisonment or worse. A person who is the victim of a carjacking by an armed group is warned not to report the theft of the vehicle to the police, so that the group's use of the vehicle willnot arouse suspicion. They may be reluctant to file a report in any event, out of fear of being seen entering a police station. Yet failure to file a police report puts the victim under suspicion of cooperating with the armed groups. Physicians and other health professionals reportedly have been forced to provide care for members of armed groups and were then harassed or prosecuted by the government for having done so. Families who have been forced at gunpoint to provide money or provisions to the armed groups have encountered the same fate.

Although identifying who is responsible for specific killings is often impossible, it is clear that armed groups identifying themselves as Islamist have killed thousands of people, including civilians and members of the security forces. The composition of these groups is varied; some groups consider themselves loyal to the FIS or to elements of its leadership; others are radical groups that reject the political mantle of the FIS.

When legal, the FIS sheltered a range of Islamist tendencies and never articulated a detailed political program. Its two undisputed leaders, Abassi Madani and Ali Belhadj, were said to espouse moderate and hardline views respectively. With both chiefs in prison and unable to communicate with their followers, FIS figures who are at liberty to speak continue to articulate a range of positions, including on the subject of political violence.

The armed groups seem to be largely decentralized, many operating only in limited areas of the country. Some Islamist groups have targeted civilians in blatant violation of the most elemental humanitarian norms, assassinating relatives of security-force members as well as journalists, intellectuals, government workers, popular singers, and others whose personal politics or profession they deem hostile or contrary to their Islamist project. Car bombs and other explosive attacks have taken the lives of hundreds of civilians and caused tremendous damage to public and private property. If the communiques issued in the name of the Armed Islamic Group (Groupe islamique armé, GIA) and the Islamic Front of the Armed Jihad (Front islamique du djihad armé, FIDA) are authentic, these two groups bear responsibility for a significant share of atrocities committed against civilians.

The Islamic Salvation Army (Armée Islamique du Salut, AIS), a group claiming to be the armed wing of the FIS, asserts that it targets only security personnel and objects; but its record in practice is not known, and some communiqués that were issued in its name clearly threatened civilians.24

FIS figures in exile continue to make statements repudiating violence directed at civilians while claiming the right to wage war against the security forces and state apparatus. The "National Contract," co-signed in January 1995 by FIS officials abroad (see above), committed signatories-in principle-to the "rejection of violence as a means of acceding to or maintaining power." Subsequently, after the authorities rejected this démarche and the actions of armed groups continued, FIS leaders reaffirmed their right to fight the government with arms while tending to dissociate their party from attacks against civilians. They blamed such attacks either on radical groups such as the GIA that they portrayed as outside FIS control, or claimed that they were committed by state agents acting to discredit Islamists. For example, Abdelkrim Ould Adda, a spokesperson for the group calling itself the "Executive Committee of the FIS Abroad" (instance executive à l'étranger), told the Barcelona daily La Vanguardia:

The FIS condemns all of these terrible killings. Let me say it very clearly: the FIS has no links with the GIA. We firmly condemn the barbarous acts committed by these terrorist groups against the civilian population. The AIS also condemns these actions. The AIS does not kill civilians, women, children, journalists, intellectuals, foreigners. Its actions are always directed against militarytargets. The AIS controls more than 80 percent of the groups fighting against the regime's repressive forces. It is stronger than the GIA.25

A statement issued the same week by the "Executive Committee of the FIS Abroad" blamed the massacres on the authorities, saying they "fit into the context of a politics of eradication [of Islamists] pursued by the regime, which is trying to instrumentalize it these days for electoral purposes."26

More radical FIS figures in exile, who were reportedly recently dismissed from the "Executive Committee of the FIS Abroad," have suggested closer links between their party and the GIA. For example, Qamareddine Kherbane, stated in an interview that the FIS rejected the GIA's practice of killing "innocents, Algerian or foreign," which he said was "the major difference between us and them." But rather than treat this unpardonable practice as grounds for repudiating the GIA, he characterized the conflict with the GIA as "minor" and asserted that "all the mujahedin (holy warriors) realize that the main enemy is the regime."27 Anouar Haddam, spokesperson for the "FIS Parliamentary Delegation in Exile," appeared to justify a bomb that exploded on a crowded street outside an Algiers police station on January 30, 1995, killing forty-two persons, most of them civilian passersby. In a conversation with the Financial Times, he insisted that the attack was part of the "armed struggle." He said:

The mujahideen never meant to harm civilians. The bomb was meant for the central commissariat, which is known as a torture centre. We send our deep condolences to the families of the victims.

Despite this claim, it should be noted that the attack occurred in broad daylight, shortly before the start of the holy month of Ramadan, when the street was most likely to be jammed with pedestrians.28

The FIS has called on its followers to boycott the elections but has not, to our knowledge, made or endorsed threats against candidates or voters. Abdelkrim Ould Adda, told a news conference in Brussels on April 2, "The FIS asks all citizens not to take part in this electoral conspiracy, neither by their mobilization nor by their vote, except where they are forced to or where their security or means of support are put under pressure."29 However, Qamareddine Kherbane, another FIS figure in exile (see above), was quoted at about the same time as saying, "We will do everything to boycott this fraudulent vote and to prevent elections from taking place."30

While a party is within its rights to call for a peaceful boycott, threats and violence intended to prevent or deter participation in political life is manifestly criminal. During the 1995 presidential elections, the GIA was reported to have threatened "a bullet for every ballot." Although we are unaware if a similar threat has been issued during the current election campaign, the ongoing violence, the bloody record of the GIA and the known opposition of armed Islamists to these elections certainly intimidates Algerians as they campaign and prepare to vote.

Indiscriminate bomb attacks in public places, calculated to inflict maximum civilian casualties, pose a potential threat to campaign rallies or large meetings. During the month of Ramadan, which ended in early February, car bombs in Algiers killed at least fifty people and injured more than 300.31 Statements issued in the name of the GIA claimed responsibility for the attack. On May 11, four days before the start of the election campaign, bombs exploded in a discotheque and three booby-trapped cars, killing six people and injuring seventy-one others, all in greater Algiers.32 In the midst of the election campaign, three car bombs exploded in different towns killing at least thirty people, according to security sources cited in the press. A leader of the MSP, Mohamed Chenouf, died in one of the explosions on May 22 in the town of Boufarik, south of Algiers, and one of the car bombs exploded near a hotel in Tlemcen where members of the CNISEL were staying.

Since the fall of 1996, many of the casualties have occurred during massacres committed against residents of isolated rural communities. According to local press, the attackers have used rifles, knives, swords and even chain-saws. Most of the victims have been women, children and infants. In April alone, more than 300 people were slain in rural attacks. On April 21, the last day of registration for candidates for the election, ninety-three men, women, and children were killed in an overnight attack on a farm in the Bougara region south of Algiers. On May 14, the eve of the election campaign, thirty civilians were killed in the area of Chebli, not far from Bougara and in the Mitidja plains, an area known to be a GIA stronghold and also the site of concentrations of government-backed armed militia.

Survivors have held Islamist groups responsible for many of the massacres, according to the local media. However, there are persistent rumors that self-defense militias and security forces may also be implicated in some of the attacks on rural settlements. Heavy press censorship and restrictions on access have made it difficult to conduct independent investigations into many of these incidents.

The carnage and destruction of property in rural areas has displaced thousands, who have fled to the capital or to other localities where they feel more protected. Some of the areas most affected by depopulation are Blida, Bouira, Chlef, Medea and M'sila.33 This disruption has diminished political life in these areas while raising concerns about how and where displaced persons will be able to cast their votes.The election law requires voters to register in their area of permanent residence. As of this writing, the government had not decided whether it intends to allow the displaced persons to vote in what the election law refers to as "mobile" polling booths, or to provide them with security to return home to vote. Political parties were urging the second choice.34

The right to move about freely is also important during election periods, but armed groups have created dangerous and frightening conditions that persuade Algerians to minimize their travel. Hundreds have been slaughtered while traveling on intercity roads, either at false checkpoints manned by armed groups posing as security forces, or while traveling in buses that have been ambushed.

Violence has taken the form of targeted political assassination as well. In June 1992, the military-appointed president, Mohamed Boudiaf, was shot to death at a public rally.35 Since 1993, candidates and activists from a variety of parties, including the FFS, the RCD, MSP (former Hamas), and smaller parties, have been assassinated around the country, including in the run-up to elections. In September 1995, Abdelmadjid Benhadid, a presidential aspirant, was slain. A senior official of the FFS, Embarek Mahiou, was assassinated ten days before the presidential vote.

On May 10, 1997 gunmen shot dead two RCD activists in a high school in the Berber area of Beni Yenni, about 120 kilometers east of Algiers.36 A day later, two activists representing a small party, the MAJD, were killed in an ambush near the town of Medea, about 80 kilometers south of Algiers. These attacks, along with the deliberate killing of hundreds of sitting government officials since 1992, including mayors, prosecutors, clerks and other public servants, have terrorized others into withdrawing from public life. It is not possible to confirm the identities of the perpetrators of these attacks, which the authorities have generally attributed to armed groups.

Many activists in political parties, women's rights organizations, and other civic and political associations have taken to living a semi-clandestine life. Many sleep in different locations, alter their daily habits, and do not publicize their movements in advance. This inhibits their ability to participate in the country's public and political life, and deters others from becoming involved.

Others have fled the country. One activist with the secularist RCD party described the violence that exploded during the 1993-1994 period, nearly costing him his life and driving him and his family into exile. A professional in his late thirties, Khaled (he asked that his real name not be used), ran as an RCD candidate in 1991 for National Assembly in the governorate of `Ain Defla, an Islamist stronghold southwest of the capital:

The evening that the voting results [the FIS landslide of December 26, 1991] came in, there were some Islamists in the room. They said nothing, but one of them looked at me and made a throat-slashing gesture. [In the next few months] some of them started calling me and my wife "infidel" [kafir] when they passed us in the streets. Democrats in the region started to be attacked later in 1992. I was warned that my son could be targeted. My wife stopped going out alone.

Khaled moved his family to his native Tizi-Ouzou governorate, which was more peaceful, but they returned to `Ain Defla in August 1993 so that Khaled would not lose his job there:

In February 1994, some men told a guard in town that they were going to start killing the "infidels," especially "the one with the red car," meaning me. On February 3, a man called out my name on the street. I didn't recognize him, so I was suspicious. I swung around and another man was behind me with a butcher's knife. I hit him and knocked the knife from his hand. People came running. We captured one of the guys, but the other escaped.

One day soon afterward, I heard gunfire near our area. I took my family and we hid near a water station. The gunfire lasted one or one and-a-half hours. The police never left their station. Lots of people were killed, including the entire police crew of four or five men. When we went back to our home, we discovered that it had been ransacked.

The security forces from [a nearby city] sent reinforcements to our village. They killed seven people in reprisal, people who did not have anything to do with the attack, people who were not even pro-FIS. They took these people to the gendarmerie [police station] in [the city] and their bodies were later found in the woods.

Khaled went into hiding and, with the help of a contact in the military, evacuated his family from the region. They returned to Tizi-Ouzou, where Khaled resumed his activism in the RCD. In September 1994, he learned that a fire had destroyed his house in `Ain Defla. He recalls:

I received a threatening tract, and noticed that I was being followed in Tizi-Ouzou. When I went on errands I found myself between two cars that I suspected were up to something. I complained to the police, but they said, Don't worry. But I realized I was safe nowhere, and decided to leave the country.37

Many Algerians active in political or civic organizations have had similar experiences or know others who have. Delila Meziane, a refugee in France, described the persecution she suffered for her outspoken politics and her independent lifestyle as a woman. Meziane, a lawyer born in 1957, was a long-time activist in the women's movement, unions, and the communist PAGS party, the precursor of Ettahaddi. "I never missed a demonstration," she recalled. "I participated in marches against the FIS beginning in 1990. In 1992 I gave interviews on the radio attacking the Islamists and the mixing of religion and the state." Meziane, who is single and lived alone, opened a law practice in Bouira, a city near the capital where Islamist sympathies were strong. After being threatened several times and aggressively confronted in the streets of Bouira, she and her female colleague closed the practice.

Meziane moved her law office to her apartment in the Bab Ezzouar district of Algiers. But the threats continued. "The phone would ring and the persons on the other end would call me a "heathen" and "unbeliever" and say I was going to die," she said. On the walls of her neighborhood, a list was posted naming local women who lived alone and calling them "impure." In 1992, death threats were scrawled across her front door, and her apartment was ransacked by unknown persons. In November of that year, a man who lived nearby whom she knew to be an Islamist assaulted her and tried to strangle her. She managed to free herself. The assailant was arrested but soon released.

In 1993, two friends and a policeman she knew were slain, and she witnessed a court clerk being killed on the steps of an Algiers courthouse. In February of that year, she returned from a trip abroad to discover that her apartment had again been ransacked and the doors and walls covered with death threats. The police advised her to leave, warning that they could not assure her safety. She began sleeping at friends' homes. On March 17, 1993 she returned home to pick up some documents and found that the phone, water and electricity had been cut off. Despite the nighttime curfew in effect, she heard people outside her front door, knocking and shouting threats. Three days later, Meziane left the country.38


Since 1992, state repression has mostly been directed at suspected Islamists, their families, and sympathizers. Before 1992, the FIS operated openly and legally, fielding candidates, publishing newspapers, and organizing rallies and other political activity. This open activity, under the watchful eyes of the security services, facilitated the massive round-up of many of these people beginning in 1992. In the months following the cancellation of elections,at least 9,000 suspected Islamists including elected officials and rank-and-file supporters, were put into desert detention camps without charge. Abdelqader Hachani, who was provisionally heading the party while its two chiefs were in prison, was arrested in January 1992 for urging soldiers to disobey orders to repress the Algerian people. He is now in his sixth year in detention without trial. The crackdown and continuing repression no doubt discourages political activism by some actual or potential supporters of Islamist-leaning candidates.

New elements that heighten the level of fear among Islamist sympathizers and their relatives are the communal guards and "self-defense" militias, armed and sponsored by the state. The communal guards, set up in 1993 and paid to back security forces in their areas of residence, operate under the jurisdiction of the interior ministry. The "self-defense" militia, created mainly in poorly protected rural areas where armed groups are active, have also been armed and sponsored by the state. While these two paramilitary forces have played a role in providing security for some sectors of the vulnerable population, they have also reportedly carried out "anti-terrorist" operations that go beyond self-defense and the limits of the law. These include offensive operations against individuals or groups they define as "terrorists" and killings of suspected Islamists or their families in reprisal for acts attributed to armed groups.39 Amid criticism that the "self-defense" militia were not subject to sufficient oversight, the government issued a decree in March 1997 intended to bring them under closer supervision by the defense and interior ministries.

Some political activists voiced concern about the effect of militias on political activity during the campaign. "We don't want any militia around during the elections. They could belong to one party or another and intimidate voters, " Abdel-Madjid Menacera, of the Islamist MSP party, commented.40 Many Algerians believe that the victims of some rural massacres have been targeted by Islamist armed groups because the victims-or, more generally, people in their village-were suspected of supporting the militia or security forces. Similarly, many Algerians suspect that the security forces and militia have perpetrated killings against persons who are suspected of supporting the Islamists. These perceptions must weigh heavily on voters in these terrorized areas when they contemplate the fact that local voting patterns will become known after the elections.

The regular security forces have engaged in extrajudicial killings. Human Rights Watch and other groups have reported on the suppression of a mutiny at Serkadji prison in Algiers in February 1995 that took the lives of about one hundred inmates and was never properly investigated by the authorities.41 There has been no thorough independent investigation of the circumstances in which security forces storm hideouts of persons described as "terrorists." Amnesty International has noted that the official communiqués concerning such clashes state, in the overwhelming majority of cases, that all of the individuals in the group were killed, and none was arrested or injured, including those who were not armed. This "raises the question of how many of these people were deliberately extrajudicially executed, including killings as a result of excessive use of lethal force in situations where they posed no threat to the lives of the security forces."42 The Algerian League of Human Rights (LADH) wrote recently that under the emergency law "there has been an increase in the use of firearms and an abuse of them during the pursuitof persons suspected of violence and terrorism, or under threat of danger, which has led to a large number of extrajudicial killings."43

Algerian authorities have also engaged in a pattern of arbitrary arrests; prolonged detention without charge or trial and with no access to lawyers or relatives and torture during interrogation. There have been numerous reports of deaths during detention in suspicious circumstances.44

Human Rights Watch investigated one high-profile case in which circumstances suggest that extra-judicial execution was the cause of death. On January 28, 1997, Abdelhaq Benhamouda, head of Algeria's largest union, the Union General de Travailleurs Algériens (UGTA), was assassinated outside the UGTA office in Algiers, despite the presence of his guard detail.45 On February 23, Rachid Medjahed, a suspect being held in incommunicado detention, "confessed" on Algerian television to having masterminded the assassination. Shortly thereafter, Medjahed's relatives requested permission from an investigating judge to visit him in detention and were told that he had died. A lawyer for the family obtained a police report dated February 26 stating that Medjahed was dead. On April 2 his family was summoned to view his body in a morgue and reported that it bore nine bullet wounds. On April 8, Minister of Justice Mohamed Adami told Human Rights Watch that, as far as he knew, Medjahed was being treated in a hospital for three bullet wounds received during the clash that led to his arrest. In a letter sent to the authorities on April 26, Human Rights Watch expressed concern that Medjahed was extrajudicially executed while in custody and that authorities had sought to cover up, rather than expose what happened to him between his arrest and his death. In a May 11 letter responding to the intervention by Human Rights Watch, the ONDH stated that it had learned from the authorities that Medjahed had indeed been wounded during his arrest and died on March 18 from "complications" related to the injuries he had suffered. The information conveyed by the ONDH was inconsistent with Human Rights Watch's finding that the family had been told well before March 18 of Medjahed's death and that the police report confirming the death was dated February 26. The case illustrates why many Algerians are sometimes skeptical of government attribution of most acts of political violence to Islamist groups.46

Human Rights Watch also spoke in Algiers with relatives of several persons arrested between 1994 and early January 1997, and whose whereabouts were still unknown in April 1997. In many of the cases, the family was either unable to locate their detained relative through inquiring at local police stations and with higher authorities, or had lost track of them after they had been transferred from one holding facility to another. All had submitted at least one inquiry with the ONDH or directly with the government. Lawyers told us they were pursuing hundreds of such cases of reported disappearances.47 Justice Minister Adami said that his ministry takes reports of missing persons seriously. "We give these cases all our special attention," he said. "Sometimes we find the person in question, but until we do we keep the files open on these cases."48

Those relatives we interviewed had received replies via the ONDH after considerable delays, if they received replies at all. But none of the replies specified a reason for the arrest nor information on the person's whereabouts. Sometimes, the ONDH responses stated that the missing person may have joined the armed groups. For example, Zobeir Chekhli's family complained to the ONDH on March 9, 1996, about his disappearance in June 1995. About a year later, the ONDH replied that, according to the gendarmerie, Chekhli had not been arrested, and that he may have joined the armed groups, since his brother Lahkdar was a "terrorist" and had been arrested.49

Human Rights Watch spoke to a relative of two young men, Djamil and Mourad Chihoub, who "disappeared" after their brother joined an armed Islamist group:

In May 1996, when military forces came to look for Saeed, who had gone to the armed groups, they took away Djamil instead, from our home in Baraqi. They told me to find Saeed. Since then, we found out that Saeed had been killed, but Djamil has not been returned. I looked everywhere for him, in morgues, hospitals, and have written to officials, but got no reply. Then, on November 1996, the military forces together with a self-defense group from Baraqi came to our house at around 11 o'clock at night and warned me, "If you move, we will shoot," and they took away my youngest son, Mourad. According to rumors he was arrested in connection to the armed groups.

The family wrote to the authorities but has received no information. The boys' father was summoned to military security headquarters in February, along with other relatives of "disappeared" persons, where he was asked for details of the cases by the social services department formed late last year to trace "disappeared" persons. The fate of Djamil and Mourad Chihoub remains unknown.

A relative of Mohamed Oucief, twenty-six, described how he was arrested around 2 a.m. on March 28, 1997 by six armed security personnel:

They forced their way through the balcony of our first floor apartment. One of the men was masked. They had no identification papers or arrest warrant. They went to Mohamed's room, and when I entered I saw the masked man hitting him and asking him questions about something he had delivered to somebody. They pushed me out and shut the door and then took him away. We only found out today, from neighbors who visited their son in Serkadji prison, that Mohamed was there, but we have no information about a trial or anything else. We managed to confirm that he was indeed in Serkadji from a guard at the gate, after a lot of pleading. This is the usual way to find out where people are taken to and held.50

Noureddine Mihoubi, twenty-nine, a resident of el-Harrache in Algiers, was arrested more than four years ago as he was visiting a brother outside Algiers.51 He was held at a police station there and his family was able to visit him and bring him food and medicine for fifteen days. Then they were told that he had been transferred to Algiers but were given no further information. A month later, a newly released detainee told them he had seen Noureddine at the military security facility at Chateauneuf and that he was in poor condition. The family in the summer of 1996 obtained a police report issued in July 1996 saying he had been arrested by security forces and transferred to Algiers on February 7, 1993. His location and fate remain unknown.

Ali Belhadj, one of the two FIS chiefs imprisoned since June 1991, was last seen by his family and lawyers in the beginning of 1995. He was tried and sentenced in July 1992 to twelve years in jail. He is facing new charges following the alleged discovery of a letter from him on the body of an armed Islamist implicating him in inciting violence. His lawyers have written to the authorities, including President Zéroual, asking for their right under Algerian law to have access to their client and complaining that his whereabouts were unknown. In April, the London-based Arabic language daily Al-Hayat quoted a FIS statement saying he had been moved to Blida military jail.52

The ONDH acknowledged in its 1994-1995 report the existence of secret detention centers in "places that the law has not designed for that function. They are mainly...certain police stations or army barracks serving as detention centers. Persons arrested were freed after more than three months of secret detention in these places."53

23 This is the unofficial figure most cited by local and international media. 24 For example, the AIS announced in 1994 that it had compiled a list of journalists who were "accomplices of the regime" who would be executed, according to an AIS-affiliated underground publication, al-Fath al-Moubine. "L'AIS affirme avoir dressé une liste de journalistes qui seront éxecutés," AFP, August 24, 1994. 25 La Vanguardia, April 20, 1997, as reported in FBIS, Near East and South Asia, April 21, 1997. 26 "Le FIS tient le pouvoir algérien pour responsable des tueries perpetrées," AFP, April 24, 1997. 27 Mark Dennis, "Algeria on the Brink," Newsweek, international edition, April 14, 1997. 28 Roula Khalaf, "Islamists Says Algiers Bomb Aimed at Police HQ," Financial Times, February 2, 1995. 29 Asharq Al-Awsat, April 4, 1997. See also, Jean-Paul Mari, "Les frères ennemis de l'islamisme algérien," Le Nouvel Observateur, April 10, 1997. 30 "Une seule legitimité, celle de Madani et de Benhadj," Le Nouvel Observateur, April 10, 1997. 31 AFP, February 24, 1997. 32 Associated Press, Algiers, May 11,1997. 33 AFP, May 24, 1997. For example, more than 2,000 residents have fled from outlying villages to the city of Tipasa, sixty kilometers west of Algiers, according to Abderrahmane Denden, a member of the Algerian League of Human Rights and the CNISEL. Human Rights Watch telephone interview, May 17, 1997. 34 FFS spokesperson Ali Rachedi said his party had asked the government to guarantee security to displaced persons so they can return home. Abderrahmane Denden of the CNISEL said that commission was making the same recommendation. 35 Although a young soldier was convicted in the killing, many Algerians believe that a larger conspiracy lies behind the killing that has not been unveiled. 36 The RCD is well-known for its opposition to the program of Islamists. "Deux militants du RCD assassinés à Beni Yenni," El-Watan, May 11, 1997. 37 Human Rights Watch interview, Paris, July 10, 1995. 38 Human Rights Watch interview, Simandre, France, July 8, 1995. 39 Amnesty International, Algeria: Fear and Silence: A Hidden Human Rights Crisis, (AI Index MDE 28/11/96), November 1996. 40 Human Rights Watch interview, Algiers, April 1, 1997. 41 Human Rights Watch/Middle East, "Algeria: Six Months Later, Cover-Up Continues in Prison Clash that Left 100 Inmates Dead," A Human Rights Watch Short Report, vol. 7, no. 5, August 1995. 42 Amnesty International, Algeria: Fear and Silence, p. 11. 43 Statement by the LADH on the occasion of its tenth anniversary, April 11, 1997. 44 See Amnesty International, Algeria: Fear and Silence. 45 Human Rights Watch/Middle East, "Algeria: Human Rights Watch Urges Investigation of Death in Detention of Suspect in Labor Leader's Killing," April 30, 1997. 46 Speculation as to who killed Benhamouda began the day he died. Many observers noted that he may have won the enmity of factions within the country's leadership after he declared his intention late last year to launch a political party that would have been pro-President Zéroual in the June 5 elections. Medjahed's "confession" followed by his death-instead of a court trial-further obscures the identity of the labor leader's assassins. 47 See also Amnesty International, Algeria: Fear and Silence. 48 Human Rights Watch interview, Algiers, April 8, 1997. 49 ONDH showed this correspondence to Human Rights Watch at its headquarters on April 5, 1997. 50 Human Rights Watch interview with a relative of Mohamed Oucief who wished to remain anonymous, Algiers, April 6, 1997. 51 Human Rights Watch interview with a relative of Noureddine Mihoubi who wished to remain anonymous, Algiers, April 6, 1997. 52 Also arrested and tried with Ben Hadj, FIS leader Abbassi Madani is held in an unknown location outside Algiers where his sister has reportedly been able to visit him. 53 Observatoire National des droits de l'homme, Rapport 1994-1995, p. 44-45.