Truth and Justice on Hold:

The New State Commission on “Disappearances”

[1] The text of the speech in French can be found on the website of the Office of the President, www.el-mouradia.dz (retrieved November 18, 2003).

[2] Presidential decree 03-299 of September 11, 2003, published in the Journal Officiel of September 14, 2003, online at www.joradp.dz.The Journal Officiel is normally published several weeks after the issue date.

[3] The CNCPPDH was established by presidential decree 01-71 of March 25, 2001, published in the Journal Officiel of March 28, 2001, online at www.joradp.dz.

[4] Interview, Middle East Insight, November 1999.

[5]From Madness to Hope: The 12-Year War in El Salvador: Report of the Commission on the Truth for El Salvador, UN Doc. S/25500, Annex, 1993; reprinted in United Nations, The United Nations and El Salvador: 1990-1995 (New York: United Nations, 1995), p. 25, online at http://www.usip.org/library/tc/doc/reports/el_salvador/tc_es_03151993_mandate.html (retrieved November 24, 2003).

[6] Thomas Buergenthal, "The United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador," Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 27 (1994), p. 520.

[7] For an English translation of the law, see http://www.algeria-interface.com/new/article.php?article_id=463&lng=e (retrieved November 24, 2003).

[8] Amnesty International noted, "Consistent reports during the last three and a half years have indicated that individuals or groups of individuals who gave themselves up after 13 January 2000 have been allowed to return home immediately or shortly after their surrender, suggesting that they are being granted exemption from prosecution. Given that such measures do not fit within the framework of any legal provisions, they can only be described as arbitrary. Moreover, no investigations appear to be conducted into what human rights abuses, such as killings of civilians, these former armed group members may have committed." Amnesty International, "Algeria: Steps toward Change or Empty Promises?" London: Amnesty International, 2003, online at http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGMDE280052003.See also Human Rights Watch, World Report 2002 (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2002), p. 407 online at http://www.hrw.org/wr2k2/mena1.html.

[9] Paul De Bendern, "Interview: Algeria Should Apologise for Disappearances, Not Prosecute," Reuters, September 22, 2003.Ksentini had earlier in 2003 come out in favor of a general amnesty:"The first beneficiaries of such an amnesty would be persons belonging to institutions accused of having carried out disappearances.... Such a measure would have the effect of halting all investigations. To be sure, an amnesty would benefit a certain number of criminals, but that's the way it works, and it's the best we can hope for to enable Algeria to turn the page and move forward. A general amnesty is in my view inevitable. All wars end thus, but it's a political decision that will be made at a particular moment.""Farouk Ksentini, prsident de la Commission nationale de protection des droits de l'homme: 'Une amnistie gnrale est inluctable,'" Le Monde, January 7, 2003. Ksentini also made similar arguments before Algerian journalists on October 6, 2002. See Mohamed Zaf, "'L'amnistie, c'est la paix civile,'" Le jeune indpendant, October 7, 2002.

[10]This point is emphasized by expert Manfred Nowak in his 2002 report on "disappearances" to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights: "As the [U.N.] Human Rights Committee rightly concluded, in the case of particularly serious human rights violations, such as enforced disappearances, justice means criminal justice, and purely disciplinary and administrative remedies cannot be deemed to provide sufficient satisfaction to the victims. Perpetrators of enforced disappearance should, therefore, not benefit from amnesty laws or similar measures." United Nations Commission on Human Rights, "Report submitted January 8, 2002, by Mr. Manfred Nowak, independent expert charged with examining the existing international criminal and human rights framework for the protection of persons from enforced or involuntary disappearance, pursuant to paragraph 11 of Commission resolution 2001/46" (New York: United Nations, 2002), E/CN.4/2002/71, online at http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/(Symbol)/E.CN.4.2002.71.En?Opendocument (retrieved November 18, 2003).

[11] The national gendarmerie, the agency under Ministry of Defense authority that is charged with conducting investigations in response to "disappearance" complaints, reportedly acknowledged receiving 7,046 complaints about "disappeared" persons.Cited in Florence Beaug, "En Algrie, aucun survivant parmi les disparus de la 'sale guerre,'" Le Monde, January 7, 2003. Ksentini of the CNCPPDH told Human Rights Watch in November 2002, "I think there are 7,000 to 10,000 cases total, maybe as many as 12,000." He made clear he was referring to cases for which the security forces and their allies were responsible. Quoted in Human Rights Watch, "Time for Reckoning: Enforced Disappearances in Algeria," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 15, no. 2(E), February 2003, online at www.hrw.org/reports2003/algeria0203.

[12]For a list of the 48 countries, see http://193.194.138.190/html/menu2/2/invitations.htm (retrieved November 19, 2003).

[13] Human Rights Watch, "Time for Reckoning," and Human Rights Watch, "`Neither Among the Living nor the Dead': State-Sponsored `Disappearances' in Algeria,"A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 10, no. 1(E), February 1998, online at www.hrw.org/reports98/algeria2 and in Arabic at http://www.hrw.org/arabic/reports/2002/alg98-1.htm.

[14] Amar Rafa,"Le dossier des disparus peut tre rgl en quatre cinq mois," La Tribune, September 22, 2003.

[15] Human Rights Watch phone interview, October 31, 2003.

[16]"Me. Farouk Ksentini: 'Il faut que la vrit sur les disparus soit rvle,'" Algeria Interface (an online journal), June 28, 2002 [an online journal], http://www.algeria-interface.com/new/article.php?article_id=570 (retrieved October 30, 2003).

[17] Nacer Boucetta, Secretary-General of the Commission, stated that the report had been submitted by the end of March to the president.Human Rights Watch phone interview, August 2, 2003.

[18] Nadia Mellal, "Issad et Ksentini disculpent l'arme," Libert, March 30, 2003.

[19]"'Le rapport annuel sera remis Bouteflika la fin du mois,'" Le Matin, March 30, 2003.

[20] Nadia Mellal, "Issad et Ksentini disculpent l'arme," Libert, March 30, 2003.

[21]Le Matin, March 30, 2003.

[22] Arab Chih, "Farouk Ksentini: C'est un holocauste qui se prpare," El-Watan, March 30, 2003.

[23] "Me. Farouk Ksentini l'Authentique: "3,300 personnes enterres sous X subiront des tests ADN,'" l'Authentique, May 10, 2003.

[24] "Interview," Reuters, September 22, 2003.

[25] Interview, Algiers Radio Station Three, March 10, 2003.Tape recording on file at Human Rights Watch.

[26] Human Rights Watch phone interview with Ahmed Mezouar and with Amine Sidhoum, an attorney working with SOS Disparus, an Algiers-based organization, July 21, 2003.

[27] Human Rights Watch phone interview with Hachimia Bouteiba, July 21, 2003.

[28] Human Rights Watch phone interview, October 30, 2003.

[29] Presidential decree no. 92-44 of February 9, 1992, imposing emergency law, Article 7.

[30]"Des familles de disparus 'convoques' par le DRS,"El-Watan, June 22, 2003.

[31] Human Rights Watch phone interview with Hachima Bouteiba, July 21, 2003.

[32] The case dossier was compiled by the CFDA and SOS Disparus.A copy is on file at Human Rights Watch.

[33] Florence Beaug, "En Algrie, aucun survivant parmi les disparus de la 'sale guerre,'" Le Monde, January 7, 2003.

[34] Nabila K., "La question des disparus est loin de connatre son pilogue: Ksentini propose la cration d'une commission judiciaire," Le Jeune Indpendant, 30 mars 2003.

[35] "Me. Farouk Ksentini l'Authentique: '3,300 personnes enterres sous X subiront des tests ADN,'" l'Authentique, May 10, 2003.

[36] Somoud press release, undated, from March 2003.

[40]Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, E/CN.4/2003/70* January 21, 2003, online atwww.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/0/fa6dfcaaa997fe9dc1256ce80054e3a5/$FILE/G0311318.pdf (retrieved October 30, 2003).

[41] See Amnesty International, "Fourteen-Point Program for the Prevention of 'Disappearances,'" online at http://web.amnesty.org/web/web.nsf/print/aboutai-recs-disappear-eng (retrieved November 17, 2003).

[42] General Comment 8 interpreting Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires that detainees be brought "promptly" before a judge. HRI\GEN\1\Rev.1 at 8 (1994).Online at http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/gencomm/hrcom8.htm (retrieved November 17, 2003).