Algeria: More than 100 cases of enforced disappearance from Jijel governorate submitted to the UN

Disgruntled by the Algerian authorities' lack of response to demands for truth and justice in the wake of the disappearances of their loved ones, the families of the missing persons from Jijel governorate (300km east of Algiers) continue to call upon the United Nations for their help.

Today, the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) was once again informed of 104 disappearances cases, reported from Jijel between 1993 and 1997.

These cases were documented by the Mich'al Association for the Missing Children of Jijel (AMEDJ) in support of the Association of the Families of Disappeared of Jijel (AFDJ).

The association was recently created by a group of sons, daughters, brothers and sisters of the missing persons from Jijel. On 24 May 2009 it filed an application of approval with the Jijel authorities. As there has been no response to date, their application can thus be regarded as de facto authorized.

The youth organization Mich'al (The Torch), not unknown to the human rights community, has already gained the support of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH), as well as that of most of the NGOs working on cases of disappearance in Algeria.

These 104 cases submitted to WGEID today follow in line with the 175 disappearance cases from Jijel submitted in December 2008. They expose, once again, the direct and exclusive involvement of the Algerian security services - all parties included (soldiers, gendarmes, police and government-armed militia groups) - in the calamity of enforced disappearances in Jijel.

Between 1994 and 1997, the abduction of civilians, especially politicians, activists and supporters of Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) were very common, many of them were victims of extrajudicial and summary executions.

The main perpetrators are military officers from the National Popular Army (ANP), as well as the central role palyed by the Department of Intelligence and Security (DRS) in the region.

The DRS controlled the military operational command in Jijel between late 1994 and early 1997 under the authority of the notorious Commander Salah Lebbah aka Belbah; who reported directly to the 5th military region of Constantine, under the command of General Abdelhamid Djouadi (May 1992 to 1994); who was later replaced by General Boughaba Rabah (May 1994 to September 1997); who was then replaced by General Ali Djemai (1997 to 2000). These three senior Algerian army officers are responsible for serious crimes against humanity. In the aftermath, they were all subsequently promoted to the ranks of Major General by President Bouteflika and remain unto this day unassailable and sheltered from prosecution. Commander Salah Lebbah worked closely with an officer from the DRS, Captain Belkheir, assisted by officer Hocine Mehirèche, both stationed at Jijel and infamous for their methods of torture.

National Gendarmerie which also falls under the authority of the Department of Defense, were also very active in Jijel. They were then led by General Benabes Ghezaïel (1989 to March 1995), Brahim Fodhil Cherif (March 1995 to July 1997) and Major General Tayeb Derradji (July 1997 to February 2000).

Some of the brigades of the gendarmerie in Jijel were heavily involved in these gross crimes. The locations of the brigades included: Al-Aouana (under the command of Captain Benaouda); Chekfa (under the command by Officer Said); Emir Abdelkader (under the command of Chief Officer Said Gueham, assisted by Sgt Mustapha Bousaid); and Boucherka-Taher, Kaous, Texenna, Djimla and Sidi Abdelaziz (under the command of Officer Said) and Al-Kennar.

The involvement of 17th brigade of the Rapid Intervention Unit (GIR) surpasses that of any other brigade in the Gendarmerie. These officers were based in the village Bouhamdoune, Tassoust, Emir Abdelkader. This unit, under the command of Commander Ouettar, was responsible for the entire Jijel region.

At this point, it is also necessary to emphasize that these abductions, summary executions and enforced disappearances could not have achieved such a massive and systematic level without the support and direct involvement of militias armed by the local Governor, Brahim Boubrit - now a wholesales medical equipment tycoon.

Highly active in the region, these militias are officially known as "self-defense groups" and hold the responsibility of the police, and thus the army. The militia leaders, who have achieved a veritable notoriety due to their direct participation these mass crimes by the Algerian army, are as follows: Ferhat Bouchair; Ali Betatache aka Allaoua, both from central Jijel; Ahmed Chermat, from Boukhertoum-Tassoust-Emirabdelkader; Mebarek Bousbia aka Aamor, from the Ouled Aissa, Ammar Djerf, from Emir Abdelkader; Berbach, from Chekfa; Liaoursi, from Djimla; Mohamed Belayeb, from Texenna; Mohieddin Boudria, from Metlatine-Texen; Tibouk from Tassoust; and Belmedrek, from Taher, etc..

This most recent submission of cases to the UN, proves that the families of missing persons, even in despite of the law for national reconciliation established in 2006, are not willing to close the case of enforced disappearances. They continue to refuse all compensation aimed at making them forget their right to justice and truth, and refuse to be intimidated by police summons or other forms of harassment.

Until the truth with regards to the fate of their parents is established, the families of the missing persons continue their fight for those responsible for these crimes to be put on trial.

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