Amnesty highlights case of missing Algerian ahead of game

The uncertainty of not knowing


Who should play in goal for England against Algeria in the World Cup tonight has been the subject of much speculation. Should Robert Green be given another chance, or should he be replaced by David James or Joe Hart? Many have also questioned Fabio Capello’s policy of not informing his players of who will play until two hours before kick off. In particular, is it right if the goalkeeper doesn’t find out if he’ll be playing or not until the last minute? Past players have suggested that this could be unsettling for the goalkeeper, it prevents him from preparing properly and focusing on the job in hand.


There are countless examples in life of where not knowing the truth about something, causes uncertainty, distress and even pain. None more so than when it involves a loved one. Imagine then how it must feel for the thousands of families in Algeria, who are still trying to find out the truth about what happened to their loved ones after they disappeared during the 1990s.


On such person is Safia Fahassi. On the afternoon of 6 May 1995, her husband Djameleddine Fahassi popped out to the shops to buy food for his family. She has not seen or heard from him since. Eye witnesses saw him being arrested by three men, believed to be members of the Algerian security forces.


Safia went to the local police station to lodge a complaint but the police refused to record it without giving any explanation. She enquired with the courts in Algiers, the General Prosecutor, the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Communications, but none led to answers.


Djameleddine was a journalist, whose ‘crime’ it appears was to hold a different political opinion to that of the government of the time. He had previously worked for a newspaper that was banned in 1992 and during that period spent six weeks arbitrarily detained in an internment camp. He was later sentenced to three months imprisonment, by a military court, for an article he had written condemning an operation by the military.


Safia has obtained a missing person report and death certificate for her husband. These entitle her to a monthly pension, but she refuses to take the money. She won’t accept any settlement until she finds out the truth about what happened to her husband and seen those responsible brought to justice.


Djameleddine Fahassi is just one of thousands of Algerians who disappeared during the 1990s. The families of those who disappeared have a right to know what happened to their loved ones.


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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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