An Open Letter to Algerian Friends Turned Torturers



Hoggar Institute believes that bringing this book to the attention of the English-speaking world is still relevant despite the time that has elapsed since the traumatic  events  recounted  in  this  book,  and  notwithstanding  the  so-called  ‘charter for peace and reconciliation’ currently marketed by president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

This book is published at a time the Algerian regime is trying to convince the  outside  world  that  it  has  finally  resolved  the  conflict,  brought  about  by  the military putsch of January 1992, through the laws enacted in the ‘charter for peace and reconciliation’.

This charter was imposed by the Algerian generals calling the shots behind the democratic façade. No public debate about its content was allowed. Excluded  from  voicing  their  opinions  about  the  ways  to  end  the  conflict,  and  put-off  by  its  lack  of  provision  of  a  modicum  of  truth,  justice,  respect  and  acknowledgement  of  collective  memory,  most  Algerians  did  not  participate  in the 29 September 2005 referendum on this charter, held be under a state of emergency, facts which deprive this charter of the required legitimacy.

The ordinance 06-01 and presidential decrees 06-93 to 95, with regard to the ‘charter for peace and reconciliation’, signed by president Bouteflika glorify  the  perpetrators  of  crimes  against  humanity,  whose  misdeeds  are  referred  to  as  ‘patriotic  actions’  to  ‘safeguard  the  republic’,  and  grant  them  a  total  and  unconditional  amnesty.  The  victims  mentioned  in  this  charter  are  classified  under  only  two  biased  categories, i.e. the ‘victims of terrorism’, in order  to  criminalise  those  who  opposed  the  military  coup  of  January  1992,  and  the  ‘victims  of  national  tragedy’  so  as  to  hide  the  identity  of  those  responsible  for  state  crimes.  Other  categories  of  victims  are  completely  excluded,  in  particular  survivors  of  torture,  victims  of  summary  executions,  massacres and arbitrary detentions. Even worse, in the case of victims actually  recognised  by  the  charter,  the  families  of  the  disappeared,  the  laws  enacted  condition  paying  the  reparations  to  the  families  on  their  validation  of  the  lies  of  the  regime  —  accepting  death  certificates  without  the  bodies,  or  even knowledge of the fate, of their loved ones.

This  charter  manifestly  violates  the  Algerian  constitution  and  all  the  international  legal  conventions  ratified  by  Algeria  because  it  forbids  victims  from  resorting  to  justice,  it  absolves  crimes  to  which  the  statute  of  limitations  does  not  apply,  it  excludes  the  possibility  of  establishing  the  truth  about all human rights violations since the putsch by independent inquiries, it punishes by three to five years imprisonment those who may resort to exercising their right to freedom of speech to hold to account the military top-brass  hiding  behind  the  ‘national  tragedy’  designation,  and  it  arbitrarily  deprives Algerian citizens from exercising their political and civil rights.


Hoggar Institute believes that peace and reconciliation are both outcomes and processes that must be preceded by a cessation of hostilities followed by a  resolution  that  addresses  the  root  causes  of  the  conflict.  It  considers  that  truth,  justice,  collective  memory  are  cornerstones  of  any  meaningful  recon-ciliation, and is committed to contributing, through research and publishing, to their realisation in Algeria.


Especially at a time when the soundbites are about peace and reconciliation, to those who may object to Hoggar’s raising the issue of torture as ir-relevant, the answer is in the quote, at the beginning of this foreword, from the  currently  serving  head  of  the  DRS  as  well  as  in  the  pages  of  Vergès’  book which remains as relevant as ever.



Book author

Jaques Vergès





Year published





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