Grioua v. Algeria

Key Judgment


Legal Relevance

Keywords: State/Non-State Agents | Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate | Duty to Prosecute | Amnesties | Deprivation of Liberty | Burden of Proof | Evidence | Judicial Protection | Refusal to Disclose Fate | Relatives as Victims

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Related Crimes

The Committee confirmed that the burden of proof cannot rest on applicants alone, holding that credible allegations of disappearance are to be considered sufficiently substantiated in the absence of satisfactory evidence or explanations to the contrary presented by the State. The Committee made a finding of inhuman treatment both with respect to Mr. Grioua, in light of the fact that he was abducted and prevented from contacting his family, and with respect to his mother, due to the anguish and distress caused by her son’s disappearance and her continued uncertainty as to his fate. Finally, the Committee held that intentionally removing a person from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time may constitute a refusal to recognize that person before the law, in cases where the victim was in the hands of the State when last seen and the efforts of their relatives to obtain access to effective remedies have been systematically impeded by the failure of the authorities to conduct an investigation. It concluded that the State should not invoke national legislation prohibiting the opening of proceedings on cases of disappearances which occurred during the period of "National Tragedy" against those who invoke the provisions of the Covenant, as this deprives them of an effective remedy.

Judgment Date

July 10, 2007

Country

Algeria

Judicial Body

Human Rights Committee

Articles violated

Article 2(3) [ICCPR], Article 7 [ICCPR], Article 9 [ICCPR], Article 16 [ICCPR]

Facts of the Case

Mr. Mohamed Grioua was arrested in his house and taken away in army vehicles in May 1996 by members of the National People’s Army in paratrooper uniforms, in the context of an extensive search operation which led to the arrest of several people and had a number of witnesses. His family was informed that he was being detained to help with inquiries, but the authorities did not produce any legal summons or arrest warrants. The prisoners were handcuffed and brought to the command headquarters: following identity checks, some were released immediately, while others were taken to military or police stations. One of those released told Mr. Grioua's family that the latter had been tortured.

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