Algeria: Authorities must ensure justice for protester beaten by police
Algeria’s authorities must ensure the investigation into the death of protester Ramzi Yettou, 22, who was brutally beaten by police last month, is thorough, independent, impartial, and effective, said Amnesty International.
The organization has gathered evidence including testimony from three eyewitnesses, a first-aid volunteer, two family members, two lawyers and a doctor which suggests Ramzi’s death on 19 April resulted from the injuries he sustained after being beaten by the police with baton sticks.
Algeria’s authorities have a dire track record of not holding members of the security forces to account for human rights violations, which makes it all the more crucial for them to ensure that the investigation into Ramzi’s death is meaningful
According to the information available to Amnesty International, Ramzi was beaten on the head by police as he was about to head home after attending anti-government protests in central Algiers that were dispersed by security forces using teargas and water cannons on 12 April 2019.
“Eyewitness accounts strongly suggest that Ramzi Yettou was brutally beaten on the head by police, causing injuries that appear to have led to his death. Algeria’s authorities have a dire track record of not holding members of the security forces to account for human rights violations, which makes it all the more crucial for them to ensure that the investigation into Ramzi’s death is meaningful,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
It is crucial that the investigation is independent, impartial and effective and that police officers involved are suspended while the investigation is ongoing.
Amnesty International reviewed a copy of a police report authorizing Ramzi’s burial which cited the cause of death as “undetermined”, prompting Algeria’s prosecutor to order an investigation into the circumstances of his death.
“Ordering an investigation into Ramzi Yettou’s death is only the first step towards justice. It is crucial that the investigation is independent, impartial and effective and that police officers involved are suspended while the investigation is ongoing. Failing to hold the perpetrators behind Ramzi Yettou’s death to account will only embolden the police and send the message that they are free to operate above the law and that they can commit crimes without facing any consequences.”
Ramzi was about to head home to the town of Bougara (Blida) after attending a protest in Algiers on the afternoon of 12 April with approximately five friends. Police stopped the truck they were travelling in after the driver attempted to drive down a street in the wrong direction. when the police attacked them, some of the group managed to flee and others were beaten with sticks.
Before he lost consciousness, Ramzi told a first aid volunteer who found him lying on the ground with blood on his jacket that he had been beaten by police.
According to the volunteer, his nose was bruised, and he had a small superficial injury measuring around a centimeter under his eyebrows that was not bleeding. The first aid volunteer asked police to call an ambulance, which arrived around 30 minutes later and transferred him to the Mustapha Bacha hospital where he underwent head surgery because of internal bleeding. He never regained consciousness and died on Friday 19 April.
Ramzi and his friends made the 50 km trip to Algiers every Friday to protest since demonstrations against the country’s ruling elite and political system started earlier this year.