Taous Djebbar and Saadi Chihoub v. Algeria
OHCHR – Human Rights Committee
Communication No. 1811/2008
31 October 2011
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: article 2, paragraph 3 (Access to remedies); article 6, paragraph 1 (right to life); article 7 (freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment); article 9, paragraphs 1 to 4 (right to liberty and security of persons); article 10, paragraph 1 (right of persons deprived of their liberty); article 16 (right to recognition as a person before the law); article 17 (unlawful or arbitrary interference with privacy); article 23, paragraph 1 (protection of the family); article 24, paragraph 1 (special protection for children).
The authors of the communication were Taous Djebbar and Saadi Chihoub, both Algerian nationals. They submitted the communication on behalf of their two sons, Djamel and Mourad Chihoub, and on their behalf. They claimed that Djamel and Mourad Chihoub were victims of enforced disappearance by Algeria, in violation of article 2, paragraph 3 (Access to remerdies); article 6, paragraph 1 (right to life); article 7 (freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment); article 9, paragraphs 1 to 4 (right to liberty and security of persons); article 10, paragraph 1 (right of persons deprived of their liberty); article 16 (right to recognition as a person before the law); article 17 (unlawful or arbitrary interference with privacy); article 23, paragraph 1 (protection of the family); article 24, paragraph 1 (special protection for children), of the International Covenant on civil and political rights (‘The Covenant’).
Djamel and Mourad Chihoub were both arrested, in 1996, by members of the army of the State party. Mourad was only 16 years old at the time of the events. No one from his family had seen him or heard from him since. According to the authors, the chances of finding Djamel and Mourad Chihoub alive 15 years after their disappearance were negligible, and their prolonged absence, as well as the context and circumstances of their arrest, suggested that they died in detention.
The Committee found several violations of the Covenant. For instance, it found that the State party had failed in its duty to guarantee the right to life of Djamel and Mourad Chihoub, in violation of article 6 of the Covenant. Recalling its general comment No. 20 (1992) on article 7, which recommends that States parties should make provisions against incommunicado detention, the Committee recognised the degree of suffering involved in being held indefinitely without contact with the outside world and concluded, that the incommunicado detention of Djamel and Mourad since 1996 and the fact that they were prevented from communicating with their family and the outside world constituted a violation of article 7 of the Covenant. Considering the complaint of a violation of article 9 of the Covenant, the Committee observed that Djamel and Mourad Chihoub were arrested by agents of the State party without a warrant, then detained incommunicado without access to defense counsel and without being informed of the grounds for their arrest or the charges against them, which was in violation of article 9. The Committee also found violations of article 10 and 16.
Finally, given that the State party arrested Mourad Chihoub at the age of 16 when he was still a minor, without an arrest warrant or any explanation, and then detained him incommunicado and deprived him of all contact with his family for 15 years, the Committee was also of the views that the State party did not ensure the special protection required for children under 18 years of age, which constituted a violation of the article 24 of the Covenant.
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