Mechani v. Algeria


Legal Relevance

Keywords: Relatives as Victims | Right to Know the Truth | Effective Remedy | Duty to Investigate | Deprivation of Liberty | Duty to Prosecute | Evidence | Amnesties | Judicial Protection | Burden of Proof | Juridical Personality | Refusal to Disclose Fate

Themes: Characteristics of the Crime | Justice and Truth | Related Crimes

The Committee reiterated its position that the national legislation prohibiting the opening of proceedings on cases of disappearance which occurred during the period of "National Tragedy" was incompatible with the Covenant. The Committee made a finding of inhuman treatment with respect to the victim due to the fact that he was held in incommunicado detention. It also made a finding of inhuman treatment with respect to the victim's father, in light of the anguish and distress caused by the disappearance. The Committee also found a violation of the victim’s right to liberty and security, as he was detained without being notified about the reasons for his arrest and never brought before a judge, and a violation of his right to be treated with humanity and dignity, in view of his incommunicado detention. Finally, the Committee found that the victim's enforced disappearance denied him the protection of the law and deprived him of his right to recognition as a person before the law.

Judgment Date

March 22, 2013

Country

Algeria

Judicial Body

Human Rights Committee

Articles violated

Article 2(3) [ICCPR], Article 7 [ICCPR], Article 9 [ICCPR], Article 10(1) [ICCPR], Article 14(1) [ICCPR], Article 16 [ICCPR]

Facts of the Case

In May 1993, Mr. Farid Mechani was stopped in the street by plain-clothed officers who alleged to be from the police department, who pushed him into a van without any warrant. The same police officers later arrested another person, who was released three days later and told Mr. Mechani’s parents that their son had been with him at the police station during the first two days of his detention. According to a police report, Mr. Mechani's was arrested because a neighbour claimed that he was a member of the Islamic Salvation Front and responsible for a bomb attack. In June 1993, Mr. Mechani was summoned before a judge for “setting up an armed terrorist group and endangering State security” but failed to appear. He was therefore declared a fugitive and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Mr. Mecahni's father tried several times to obtain information about this son, with no success. In September 1993, the father was told by the authorities that his son had been handed over to the military police the day after his arrest. In October 1993, Mr. Mechani's parents received a letter from the Organization of Young Free Algerians, warning them that their son was a terrorist and threatening them for helping him. In May 1994, Mr. Mechani was tried in absentia by a Special Court composed of anonymous judges who sentenced him to life imprisonment for “endangering State security and conspiracy” and “membership of a criminal association that has the aim of causing violence and debasing the State”, and declared him a “fugitive”. Mr. Mechani is still missing, and his family never received any further news of him despite submitting a number of complaints. In September 2005, national legislation prohibiting the opening of proceedings on cases of disappearance which occurred during the period of "National Tragedy" was passed.

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