Date of arrest: 1994-08-12
Forces responsible: Military Security
On August 12, 1994, at 9 a.m., Sahraoui Ayache was arrested at his home in Constantine by a group of uniformed soldiers and plainclothes military security personnel who were carrying out a large-scale operation in response to the killing of two soldiers in the Constantine region. The members of the security services entered all the homes in the neighbourhood in which Sahraoui Ayache lived and made the men leave their homes quickly. Sahraoui Ayache’s father witnessed his arrest, as well as the arrests of neighbours and family members who lived in the area. The arrested persons were rounded up outside and some of them, including Sahraoui Ayache, were taken by lorry to an unknown place of detention. The security services never produced an arrest warrant and did not state the grounds for Sahraoui Ayache’s arrest.
According to his family, Sahraoui Ayache and his 17 co-detainees were subjected to dreadful conditions of detention following their respective arrests: 18 men were crammed into a four-square metre cell where they were forced to remain standing for lack of space in the stifling August heat. In just one day, most of them died. The bodies were removed, wrapped in blankets and loaded onto an army lorry. As only few survives, the family believes that it is possible that Sahraoui Ayache may have died at that time, although they cannot be sure of it.
A few months after the arrest, the family received an unexpected visit from a military officer who said that Sahraoui Ayache was still alive and that he was being held in a military prison in the city, but it was impossible to verify this information. To date, no one knows his fate or his whereabouts or those of his remains.
August-September 1994: Sahraoui Ayache’s family goes to various police and gendarmerie units of Constantine to ask whether he is being held there, to no avail. They check the morgue of the Constantine hospital, but they do not find Sahraoui Ayache’s body among the corpses of detainees.
October 15, 1994: Sahraoui Ayache’s mother writes to the chief of the 5th military region of Mansoura to find out whether her son is being held under its jurisdiction, to no avail.
December 18, 1994: His mother writes to the wali of Constantine, to no avail.
February 19, 1995: His mother sends a letter to the State Prosecutor.
May 22, 1995: His mother files a petition with the Prosecutor at the Court of Constantine, which is registered by the Court.
July 23, 1995: His mother is informed by the Directorate General of National Security that the investigation into the disappearance of her son has not yielded any results.
1996: His mother writes to the National Human Rights Observatory, to no avail.
May 21, 1996: His mother writes again to the State Prosecutor.
November 30, 1996: She is notified by the police that her son has been arrested, not by the police, but by the military security services.
September 14, 1998: She petitions again the provincial governor of Constantine, who later refers the matter to the Chief Prosecutor of Constantine.
September 19, 1998: The Chief Prosecutor of Constantine orders the crime squad of the criminal investigation department to look into the disappearance.
November 7, 1998: The crime squad informs Aïcha Dehimi that the investigation has yielded no results and that Sahraoui Ayache has never been summoned by that service.
May-July 2000: His mother writes to the State Prosecutor, the Chief Prosecutor, the Minister of Justice and the President, all of which remain unanswered.
June 26, 2000: His mother writes again to the National Human Rights Observatory, to no avail.
September 20, 2004: The Ayache family is invited to meet with the National Consultative Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights.
May 17, 2006: Sahraoui Ayache’s parents resign themselves to completing the formalities provided for under Ordinance No. 06-01, and his mother requests a certificate of disappearance, which is issued to her by the gendarmerie of Constantine.
June 28, 2006: The Court of Constantine rules that Sahraoui Ayache died on August 12, 1994. The decision does not specify the circumstances of the death and grants Sahraoui Ayache’s parents 960,000 dinars each.
Decision of the Human Rights Committee
Right to life; prohibition of torture and cruel or inhuman treatment (including in relation to the author); right to liberty and security of person; respect for the inherent dignity of the human person; recognition as a person before the law and the right to an effective remedy (including in relation to the author); unlawful interference with the home and right to family life.
The State party must provide the authors and their family with an effective remedy, which includes the following: (a) carrying out a thorough and effective investigation into the disappearance of Sahraoui Ayache; (b) providing the authors and their family with detailed information concerning the results of this investigation; (c) releasing Sahraoui Ayache immediately if he is still being detained incommunicado; (d) in the event that Sahraoui Ayache is no longer alive, returning his remains to his family; (e) prosecuting, trying and punishing those responsible for committing the violations; (f) providing adequate compensation for the moral damage suffered to the authors and to Sahraoui Ayache, if he is still alive, taking the payments already made into account; and (g) providing the authors with appropriate measures of satisfaction. Notwithstanding the terms of Ordinance No. 06- 01, the State party should ensure that it does not impede enjoyment of the right to an effective remedy for crimes such as torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. The State party is also under an obligation to take steps to prevent similar violations in the future.