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Algeria: Arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defender Mr Noureddine Belmouhoub
On 23 October 2011, human rights defender and lawyer Mr Noureddine Belmouhoub was arbitrarily arrested by officers of the Intelligence and Security Directorate (DRS) and held in a detention centre in Algiers.
The human rights defender was interrogated in relation to a judicial complaint he had made against Algerian Army General and former Minster of Defence Khaled Nezar in 2001. He was also intimidated and verbally abused, before being released at approximately 3 am on 26 October in a cemetery. Noureddine Belmouhoub is a prominent human rights defender and the spokesperson of the Comité de Défense des ex-Internés des Camps de Sûreté – CDICS (Committee for the Defense of ex-Detainees of the Security Camps).
On 23 October 2011, at approximately 11 am, Noureddine Belmouhoub was walking with a companion on Hassiba Ben Bouali Street, Algiers, when he was approached by three men in plain clothes who forced him into a waiting vehicle without producing an arrest warrant or identification. It later became evident that his kidnappers were with the DRS. While in detention, Noureddine Belmouhoub was questioned about a judicial complaint he had made against General Khaled Nezar in 2001. As well as being verbally abused and intimidated, he was told to halt his activism and was reprimanded for his human rights work.
On 20 October 2011, it is reported that General Khaled Nezar was arrested in Geneva and held for two days in connection with suspected war crimes. In 2001, Noureddine Belmouhoub had lodged a domestic judicial complaint against General Khaled Nezar in Algeria.
In the days leading up to his abduction, Noureddine Belmouhoub told his friends that he was being followed by a man on a regular basis and expressed concern that he might be abducted. The arbitrary arrest and detention of Noureddine Belmouhoub is the latest in a series of attacks against him, including a knife attack by unknown persons several weeks ago which resulted in serious injuries.
A former detainee in the Camp of Regane, Noureddine Belmouhoub campaigns for truth and justice for some 900 detainees who were held in this and other detention camps operated by the Algerian authorities in the Algerian desert between 1992 and 1995. Noureddine Belmouhoub is in poor health and suffers from a skin condition thought to have been contracted while he was held in detention in the desert camp.
Front Line is concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Noureddine Belmouhoub, particularly as there appears to be a risk that he could be further targeted as the international scrutiny of General Khaled Nezar continues. Front Line believes that Noureddine Belmouhoub faces the risk of being re-arrested and detained for his human rights work and for his campaign for truth and justice for ex-detainees of the security camps, particularly by members of the Algerian Army and the DRS.
Front Line believes that the arbitrary arrest and detention of Noureddine Belmouhoub is directly related to his legitimate human rights work, particularly with regard to his campaign for truth and justice for ex-detainees of the security camps.