EXTERNAL AI Index: MDE 28/09/96
12 August 1996
Further information on UA 193/96 (MDE 28/08/96, 2 August 1996) - "Disappearance"
/ Fear for safety and new Legal concerns
ALGERIARachid Mesli, human rights lawyer
Amnesty International has received confirmation that Rachid Mesli, the human
rights lawyer who was abducted on 31 July 1996, was in fact taken by the security
Rachid Mesli was taken before the examining magistrate on 10 August, accused
of links with armed groups, and imprisoned in the prison of El-Harrache, on
the outskirts of Algiers. His family and lawyers have not yet been able to
visit him, despite repeated requests. There are reports that when he was seen
in the office of the examining magistrate he bore bruises on his right eye
and on his hand, and looked in poor physical condition.
The circumstances of his arrest - an abduction by armed individuals who did
not present an arrest warrant and did not identify themselves as members of
the security forces - raise a number of concerns. The Algerian authorities
did not reply to inquiries from Amnesty International and other organizations,
his family, his lawyers, and the Bar Association, seeking information on his
whereabouts during the whole of the first week of his detention (in violation
of Article 51 of the Algeria Code of Penal Procedure, which states that the
detainee must be allowed to communicate immediately with his family).
Furthermore, on the evening of 7 August the security forces searched the office
and house of Rachid Mesli, without him being present as required by Algerian
law (Article 45 of the Code of Penal Procedure).
Algerian law also stipulates that the Head of the Bar Association must be
informed if a lawyer is to be arrested and that he be present if there is to
be a search in the office of a lawyer (or that he mandates a lawyer to be present
if he is unable to be present himself). However, neither of these procedures
appear to have been complied with, given that as late as 7 August the Head
of the Bar Association had still not been able to obtain any information as
to the whereabouts of Rachid Mesli or even to obtain confirmation that he was
indeed being detained by the security forces.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/
airmail letters in French, Arabic, English or in your own language:
- expressing concern at the circumstances of arrest and of Rachid Mesli, and
at the fact that he was held in unacknowledged secret detention for 10 days;
- urging the authorities to ensure that he is granted immediate access to his
family and lawyers and to a medical examination;
- urging that an independent and impartial investigation be carried out into
the circumstances of his arrest and secret detention.
Minister of Interior
M Mustafa BENMANSOUR
Ministre de l'Intérieur
Ministère de l'Intérieur
18 rue Docteur Saâdane