Algeria: Malik Medjnoune, arbitrarily detained for 10 years, still no trial
|Wednesday, September 30,2009 11:22|
Today, September 28, 2009, 10 years have passed since the day Malik Medjnoune was abducted near his home in Tizi-Ouzou by the Algerian secret services of the Department of Intelligence and Security (DRS). After being held incommunicado for more than eight months and severely tortured, he was imprisoned without ever being tried.
The violation of Mr. Medjnoune's fundamental rights was submitted to the Human Rights Committee on 11 June 2004, which ruled on his complaint on 14 July 2006. According to its findings, the UN Committee had granted all requests and urged the Algerian authorities to:
"Present Malik Medjnoune immediately before a judge, in order to answer the charges or release him; to carry out a full and thorough investigation on his incommunicado detention and the treatment he suffered since his abduction on 28 September 1999; and to initiate criminal proceedings against those responsible for these violations."
During the procedure, the Algerian government informed the Human Rights Committee by letter, dated 28 December 2004, that "the case should soon be submitted to the criminal court in Tizi-Ouzou for trial.
The case has never gone to trial despite the commitments of the Algerian government and findings of the Committee. There is no precedent in Algeria, to date, for a case of preventive detention for more than 10 years. This is a particularly serious violation of Algeria's commitments to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which prohibits arbitrary detention and considers that a person should be tried without undue delay.
Malik Medjnoun was accused of complicity in the assassination of singer, Lounes Matoub, committed in June 1998, which he has always denied. Abducted near his home in Tizi-Ouzou on 28 September 1999 by the DRS (Department of Intelligence and Security), he was held incommunicado at the "Antar" Ben Aknoun barracks (Algiers) under the surveillance of the DRS. He endured more than eight months of incommunicado detention and was brutally tortured by the techniques usually used by the DRS (the cloth method, electricity, etc.).
On 5 May 2001, he was presented before the criminal court in Tizi-Ouzou for a trial; however his case was postponed indefinitely.
In protest against the apparent refusal by the Algerian authorities for his judgment, Malik Medjnoune has launched several hunger strikes.
On the occasion of one of these strikes, the Attorney General of the Court of Tizi-Ouzou - the highest authority of the prosecutor, together with the President of the Court of Tizi-Ouzou - the highest magistrate of the court -, visited him in Tizi-Ouzou prison in order to tell him that it was "politically sensitive issue" and that they had no freedom to decide to bring him before the court.
Some time later, on 1 February 2009, the prosecutor of the tribunal of Tizi-Ouzou also went to the civil prison to ask him to end his hunger strike by promising that his case be considered "after the elections." Although the presidential elections were held in April 2009, Mr. Medjnoune has still not been judged.
It is clear that the decision not to release Malik Medjnoune or not to bring him to trial, is a political decision by the Algerian government, which clearly gives the court instructions not only in violation of the law, but also contrary to the commitments resulting from Algeria's ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.