PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 28/34/98
UA 279/98 Fear of “disappearance” / Fear for safety 29 October 1998
There are concerns for the safety of Abdelkrim Torchi and Saddek Aichouni who
it is feared may have “disappeared” following their recent arrests.
Both men were reportedly arrested in separate incidents at their respective
homes in Algiers, the capital, on 20 October 1998, in the presence of other
members of the family. No arrest warrants were produced and no reason given
for the arrests.
Abdelkrim Torchi’s arrest was carried out by uniformed members of the security
forces who arrived at his home in four cars. Saddek Aichouni’s arrest was
carried out by men in plain clothes. One, however, was identified by onlookers
as a policeman employed at the local commissariat (police station). The
commissariat, however, has subsequently stated it has no record of his arrest.
The two men were previously arrested in November 1997 and, after appearing
in court the following month, were remanded in custody until their release,
without charge, nine months later. There have been many reports of people
being released from detention and subsequently “disappeared” by security
Over the past six years, tens of thousands of people have been killed in Algeria
by security forces, paramilitary militia groups and by armed groups defining
themselves as “Islamic groups”. Tens of thousands have also been arrested
by security forces and thousands subsequently remain unaccounted for.
Members of the security forces carrying out arrests do not generally wear an
identifying uniform, display any other form of identity, or produce warrants
of arrest. Following arrest, suspects are usually held in secret detention.
During this time the security forces and authorities will deny their families
any information concerning their whereabouts. This is often only eventually
known by families when their detained relative appears in court, possibly weeks
or months later.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
French, Arabic, English or your own language:
- expressing concern at the “disappearance” of Abdelkrim Torchi and Saddek
Aichouni and urging the authorities to ensure that thorough investigations
are carried out to establish their whereabouts;
- urging that, if in the custody of the security forces, they be treated humanely
and granted access to their families and lawyers of their choice.
M. Mustafa BENMANSOUR
Ministre de l'Intérieur
Ministère de l'Intérieur
18 rue Docteur Saâdane