Algeria: Human Rights Committee recognizes serious violations committed against kidnapped and summarily executed Fateh Dafar by National Gendarmerie
For Mohammed Dafar, the beach of Al Aouana (wilaya of Jijel, a small coastal town east of Algiers) encloses the deep pain inflicted by the loss of his son, Fateh Dafar, summarily executed by the National Gendarmerie.
During its 130th session held in Geneva from 12 October to 6 November 2020, the United Nations Human Rights Committee rendered its decision on the case of Fateh Dafar, in response to the complaint filed on 25 November 2014 by the father, Mohammed Dafar, represented by Alkarama.
Fateh Dafar, had disappeared after his arrest at his workplace by agents of the National Gendarmerie on 26 November 1994. Three months later, his family found his body among those of several victims executed by gendarmes.
Recall of facts
Fateh Dafar (34) lived in Timizert near Al Aouana where he worked as a tax controller. It was at his place of work that he was arrested on 26 November 1994 by Captain Benaouda and taken to the headquarters of the local brigade of the National Gendarmerie. Detained for 70 days, he was subjected to ill-treatment and torture.
On February 3, 1995, at around 10 pm, gendarmes under the command of Captain Benaouda transferred the victim, along with six other detainees (Chekirou Mourad, Lakehal Mohamed, Ammour Boualem, and three unidentified others), from their brigade headquarters to Chalate beach in Al Aouana. The movement of the detainees, supervised by Gendarmerie officers, was carried out in full view of many inhabitants of the commune.
Several people present near the beach that night witnessed the summary execution of the seven detainees by Captain Benaouda and the accompanying gendarmes who left the bodies of the victims on the spot.
The next morning, civil defense agents arrived at the scene to recover the bodies under the supervision of gendarmes. They then transported them to the Jijel hospital morgue, where the families went during the day to identify them. The health sector doctor wrote a death certificate for one of the seven victims, at the request of her father. Relatives of the other victims were unable to obtain a certificate and had to travel together to the court in Jijel to petition the Public Prosecutor's Office for an investigation. However, the prosecutor refused to grant their requests and to order an autopsy as required by law. The magistrate simply issued a burial permit "considering that it was not useful for the establishment of the truth to postpone the burial of the remains.
All of the actions brought by the families of the victims to obtain justice were in vain. Faced with the complicity of the judicial authorities with the perpetrators of the assassinations and fearing for their safety and that of their loved ones, the families of the victims have ceased all actions. It was only several years later, on September 5, 2000, that Mohamed Dafar wrote to the Minister of Justice to ask once again for the opening of an investigation without ever receiving a response.
After further steps in 2006, Mohamed Dafar was summoned by an officer of the Al Aouana National Gendarmerie, the same unit that summarily executed his son, who issued him a "report of the observation of disappearance in the circumstances resulting from the national tragedy" in which it was stated that Fateh Dafar was considered missing after unsuccessful searches. The same officer then issued him a death certificate without specifying the causes and circumstances of death.
In the absence of effective domestic remedies and faced with the impossibility of obtaining justice in his country, Mohamed Dafar mandated Alkarama to submit his son's case to the UN Human Rights Committee.
Decision of the Human Rights Committee
The experts of the Committee granted the request of Mohamed Dafar and recognized the violation by the Algerian State of several provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular articles 2 paragraph 3, 6 paragraph 1, 7, 9 and 10 paragraph 1 relating respectively to the right to an effective remedy before national courts, the right to life, the prohibition of torture, and finally, the prohibition of arbitrary detention.
In its decision, the Human Rights Committee underlined the Algerian authorities refusal to cooperate, particularly in the communication of information during the procedure. Indeed, despite two successive reminders from the experts inviting the authorities to respond to the complaint, the latter did not provide any response and were unable to contest the facts. The experts thus recalled that any State party to the Covenant "is required to examine in good faith all allegations of violations of the Covenant made against it and its representatives, and to transmit to the Committee the information in its possession".
After acknowledging the facts of disappearance, torture and summary execution, and in the absence of any rebuttal from the Algerian authorities, the committee concluded that Algeria "has denied Fateh Dafar the right to life in particularly grave circumstances, since he was clearly the victim of summary execution at the hands of elements of the National Gendarmerie."
The Committee also admitted that Fateh Dafar was subjected to ill-treatment and torture prior to his execution and that he was "undoubtedly the victim of acute psychological distress and mental suffering prior to his execution”. The committee also noted "the anguish and distress that the execution of Fateh Dafar caused to the author [Mohamed Dafar] and his family, in addition to the feeling of powerlessness for many years from 1994 to 2007" when the father, Mohamed Dafar managed, after much effort, to obtain a death certificate for his son.
On the other hand, the Committee noted the arbitrary nature of Fateh Dafar's detention, as he was arrested without a warrant and without charge. Needless to say, he was not brought before a judicial authority that would have allowed him to challenge the legality of his detention.
With this decision, the Committee urges the State party "to conduct without delay an effective, thorough, rigorous, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into the summary execution of Fateh Dafar", to "provide his family with detailed information on the outcome of this investigation", to "prosecute and punish those responsible" for these violations, and to "provide the victim's family with adequate compensation".
At Alkarama's request, the Committee once again reminded the Algerian authorities that it cannot oppose the provisions of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation to the victims of serious human rights violations. In this regard, the Committee urged the State party to review its legislation and "in particular to repeal the provisions of the said ordinance which are incompatible with the Covenant.
Algeria has 180 days to inform the Committee of the measures it will take to give effect to the Views and to make the decision public.
As part of the follow-up procedure instituted by the UN body in relation to the individual complaint, Alkarama will attach particular importance to the implementation of this decision in order to ensure that the rights of victims and their families as well as their dignity are finally restored.