News24

Algeria 'should compensate Islamists'

2012-06-04 13:22

Algiers - Thousands of Islamists imprisoned in Algeria in 1992 after aborted elections deserve compensation under the president's national reconciliation policy, the head of an official rights panel said on Sunday.

A decade ago, the military stepped in to stop the Islamic Salvation Front from winning Algeria's first multi-party legislative polls, sparking a civil war that lasted 10 years and left up to 200 000 people dead.

Representatives for those imprisoned say security forces rounded up between 24 000 and 30 000 people and interned them in two camps in the desert south of Algeria.

"Some people remained in detention between two and three years without trial. Others contracted diseases during their detention, we think they have the right to compensation, if only in a symbolic way," Farouk Ksentini, the head of a national advisory panel on human rights, told AFP.

He added national reconciliation should "encompass all the victims of the national tragedy," the official name of the civil war.

"Between 15 000 and 18 000 people who were administratively interned in the south of the country ... in 1992 should be compensated," he said.

At the time of the military takeover, then-president Mohamed Boudiaf was recalled from exile in Morocco in January 1992 to become the figurehead of the High Council of State, a puppet body for the military junta.

A bodyguard assassinated Boudiaf the same year.

President Chadli Bendjedid had been forced out of office after the military stepped in to cancel the second round of the elections, which the Islamic Salvation Front was poised to win.

The Islamist party was outlawed in March 1992.

Noureddine Belmihoub, a spokesman for an internees' association, said the families of 83 detainees who died from diseases contracted in detention should also benefit.

Ksentini's recommendations are contained in the annual report of the body he heads, the National Advisory Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

The peace charter, adopted by referendum in 2005, pardons armed Islamists in exchange for their laying down of arms, and provides measures for victims of state violence.