Date of arrest: 1994-06-20
Forces responsible: Police
On June 20, 1994, at approximately 5.30 a.m., a large number of police officers surrounded the Khelifati family home. The officers, who were armed and wearing balaclavas and “Ninja” combat dress, belonged to the anti-terrorist squad. Four of them entered the courtyard through the garden. There, they found Youcef Khelifati performing his ablutions before prayers, set about him and threatened to kill him if he moved. They took a sheet that was hanging in front of the house and put it over the victim’s head. Awakened by the noise, his father came down to ask the police officers why they were arresting his son. The officers ordered him back into the house, threatening to shoot him. At that moment, the author recognised the voice of B., the detective superintendent of the criminal investigation task force in Dellys. The police officers left on foot, taking Youcef Khelifati to the Mesrour Ali school, where a white Peugeot 205 was parked. They put the victim in the trunk of the car and drove off. Two neighbours witnessed his arrest as well as another witness.
On the same day, Youcef Khelifati’s father went to the police station in Dellys to find out why his son had been arrested. The white Peugeot 205 was parked there and recognised Superintendent B., who was wearing the same clothing that he had worn during the arrest. The superintendent flatly denied that Youcef Khelifati had been arrested.
The next day, the same police officers who had arrested Youcef came back with army units to comb the neighbourhood and forest and to search the house.
On several occasions, inhabitants of Dellys were summoned and questioned about Youcef Khelifati at the Ben Aknoun barracks by plain-clothes police officers. According to Youcef Khelifati’s father, this demonstrates that the police transferred Youcef to the Intelligence and Security Department (DRS) – the political police in Algeria better known as “military security”.
On October 11, 1994, his father received a telex from the National Human Rights Observatory, informing him that, according to the Directorate General of National Security, Youcef Khelifati, an “active terrorist”, had been killed in July 1994 by the security forces in the mountains of Dellys. He challenged this statement, which he considers to be false given that his son was arrested in front of him.
In the years that followed, Youcef Khelifati’s family was subjected to various acts of reprisal for seeking the truth about his fate and whereabouts. The governor of Boumerdès also strongly encouraged his father to seek compensation. The governor, knowing that the Youcef Khelifati’s father is illiterate, even tried to trick him by urging him to sign a death certificate for his disappeared son. Youcef Khelifati’s father continuously refused to file an application for compensation, which would imply an acknowledgement of his son’s death.
June 20, 1994: Youcef Khelifati’s father goes to the police station in Dellys to find out why his son has been arrested, but the police denies having arrested him.
June 20, 1994: His father lodges a complaint with the National Human Rights Observatory.
April 18, 1998: His father petitions the former President, Liamine Zeroual, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Minister of Justice. He also files complaints with the Public Prosecutor of the Court of Justice of Algiers and the Public Prosecutor of the Court of Dellys with requests for research to find Youcef Khelifati.
June 7, 1998: His father appears before the Public Prosecutor at the Dellys court after having been summoned.
December 30, 1998: His father is invited to appear before National Human Rights Observatory.
February 20, 2000: His father appears before the investigating judge of the Blida Military Court, which has received the case file of his son. The Court later dismisses the case.
December 9, 2002: The case of Youcef Khelifati is submitted to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID).
February 1, 2003: His father appears before the Prosecutor General of the Algiers Court of Justice after being summoned. No action is taken as a result.
February 4, 2003: His father is invited to appear before the National Advisory Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
April 24, 2006: His father receives a letter from the chief of the district of Dellys. A second letter is sent to him on April 11, 2007.
November 20, 2006: His father receives a letter from the Head of Government informing him that his request has been transmitted to the National Advisory Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.
June 2, 2007: The governor of Boumerdès sends a letter to Youcef Khelifati’s father urging him to accept compensation and to stop requesting information on his son’s fate. He replies on June 27, 2007, emphatically refusing any compensation until he obtains the truth about his son’s fate.
February 20, 2008: His father sends a letter to the President of the Republic, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
March 12, 2008: His father writes to the Minister of Justice, the Minister of the Interior, the governor of Boumerdès and the National Advisory Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, to no avail.
March 8, 2013: Having exhausted all the domestic remedies, Youcef Khelifati’s father seizes the UN Human Rights Committee.
Decision of the Human Rights Committee
Right to an effective remedy (including in relation to the author); prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (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.
The State party must provide the author with an effective remedy. This provision requires that States parties make full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. In the present case, the State party is obliged, inter alia, to: (a) conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the disappearance of Youcef Khelifati and provide the author and his family with detailed information about the results of its investigation; (b) release Youcef Khelifati immediately if he is still being held incommunicado; (c) in the event that he is deceased, return his remains to his family; (d) prosecute, try and punish those responsible for the violations that have been committed; (e) provide adequate compensation to the author for the violations perpetrated against him, and to Youcef Khelifati, if he is alive; and (f) provide appropriate satisfaction for the author and his family. Notwithstanding the terms of Order 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. It is also under an obligation to take steps to prevent similar violations in the future. To that end, the Committee is of the view that the State party should review its legislation in the light of its obligation under article 2 (2) and, in particular, reconsider Order No. 06-01 to ensure that the rights enshrined in the Covenant can be enjoyed fully in the State party.