Monday, 7 March 2011

Algeria: Interior minister admits 'secret prisons'

Last Thursday 25th February, on Channel 3 of Algeria's national radio, Interior Minister Ould Kablia spoke of the existence of secret prisons, “run by the military intelligence services [DRS]”. In trying to demonstrate what sort of changes the lifting of the Emergency Powers would bring, Kablia admitted that: “the intelligence services, particularly the military have often been accused of detaining people for indefinite periods without the knowledge of either authorities, their families or their lawyers.” With the lifting of the state of emergency, this practice will now end. Things will change regarding the treatment of those taken into detention, said Kablia. “Now, people will only be placed under such surveillance under the aegis of a judicial authority, with the guarantee of a fair hearing and with access to their lawyers and visitors .”

This statement is political dynamite. It is an open and public admission that Algeria lied to the UK about ita secret prisons. It is also an admission that Algeria has continually lied to the various international organisations, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others regarding its prison conditions.

Perhaps Ould Kablia's next step will be to confirm that Algeria 'no longer does torture' and to explain the whereabouts of the 6,000 who have ' disappeared' at the hands of his regime. Kablia's admission is likely to have serious consequences for the many pending legal appeals by Algerians in European countries, notably the UK, against their expulsion and return to Algeria.

UK, more than any other Western country, and in the face of overwhelming evidence presented by human rights lawyers and organisations, has gone along with Algeria's lies. Kablia has effectively told UK's Crown Prosecution Service that his country has lied in its previous undertakings and that such agreements, on which the expulsion of many Algerians hinge, are not worth the paper they are written on.

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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