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real capacity, in the opinion of the mission, is about 100. About 20 men were on ‘operational work'. The Army Corps of Oran (11 visits)
“Slightly more than half the camps visited were judged satisfactory. This was the case of Beni-Bahdel (61), RledZouia (18), Le Kreider (28), Nedromah (34), Saida (467), Sedbou (69). One of the camp commanders is a former inmate of Dachau; another is an officer of Moslem origin.
“The mission made particular mention of the intelligence and humanity of their administration, and several times stressed the excellent impression made by some of these camps ... noting in particular the camp of Sedbou, with a total number of 69 inmates and where 1135 releases have been effected since the beginning of the year.
“The impression is a little less favorable, but nevertheless satisfactory, at Saf-Saf (65), at the C. D. R. of Saida (55), at the camp under construction at the Derasse Farm, near Tlemcen, and at Tiaret (56).
“The impression was distinctly bad in one camp: the Center of Transit and Interrogation of Telagh in the zone of Sidi-Bel-Abbes. 42 of the total 182 inmates were kept in cells, and the mission only was able to see 20 of them. The mission noted that these were lodged three to a cell, in cells built for single occupancy. The mission gathered the following complaints from these inmates as well as from 20 others who were kept all together in a common room: "they are either chained or hand-cuffed all night long: they had suffered inhumane treatment during questioning by the Deuxieme Bureau at the camp (they were suspended by the wrists, which were tied behind their backs, subjected to electricity, water treatment)'. Many had visible markings on their wrists left by the cords from which they were hung. The inmates also charged that during the night their feet were chained to a hard-wood pillory which, moreover, we saw for it stands permanently in the common room'. The mission demanded that the camp commander order immediate abolition of this practice of chaining prisoners during the night. Assurances were given, but the mission's report adds: “We consider that this question must be followed up by higher military authorities'. "After the eleven camps of the Oran region, the mission visited a Center of Transit and Interrogation in the south, at Kenadsa near Colomb-Bechar (216) which made a 'very good impression'. The Detention Centers ("Camp d'Hebergement") - (13 visits)
"More than half of the detention centers visited appeared to have satisfactory conditions. The number of persons detained is very large, in some cases there are from 1200 to 1500 inmates. Frequent mention is made of the presence of sick persons in these camps, whose evacuation the camp directors have asked for, with no success. There are five insane, three tubercular and two disabled persons in the camp of Berrouaghia (1,233 inmates), other mentally sick or tubercular sufferers in other camps. One of these, the camp of Beni-Messous set up as a sanitorium, has more than 50 tuberculosis cases. The report notes thus: 'The medical equipment is very satisfactory. It should be noted that the creation and equipment of such an establishment is an important improvement as it was a definite necessity.'
“At Arcole (784) one guard was discharged for having inflicted inhuman treatment upon three inmates during interrogation in May, 1959. At Djorf (698), at Chateau-Holden (131) near Douera, the camp reserved for 'intellectuals' or more educated persons, at Lodi (130), at Saint-Leu (674), the conditions are satisfactory or else considerable improvement was noted in relation to the situation existing during the previous visit by a Red Cross Mission.
"Improvements are noted, although conditions are still not satisfactory, at Berrouaghia where 1,233 persons ar detained. The report notes: 'It is our impression that the authorities are making some effort to organize the new center in a better way. It will be useful to visit the center when installation is completed.' Here, and in some other camps, the mission received protests about the role of Psychological Action, and on the criterion used in releasing prisoners. Great progress was noted in the detention camp of Camp-du-Marechal (454) and of Paul-Cazelles (1,360). On the other hand, the general impression was very mediocre at the camp of Tefeschoun (1,234) where the material installation was correct but the general atmosphere bad because, it appears, of the psychological pressure applied to get the inmates to change their opinions'.
'At Sidi-Marouf (995) in Oran, the mission's attention was called to an incident which had occured last August. Members of the territorial units who guard the outside of the camp were reported to have killed an inmate.
“At Bossuet (1,520) the persons considered the most dangerous, or the most convinced in their opinions were held. Inmates from the other ten camps are sent to this one. Within the center, the inmates are divided into three groups, the 'retrievables', the dangerous ones, and the 'irretrievables'. Discipline is harsh. Confinement in the cells is prolonged and frequent. Many inmates protested at the pressures and inhumane treatment inflicted upon them.
“Very serious incidents took place at the camp of Bossuet last June 6 - 11, causing the repeated intervention of a C. R. S. Unit (Security force) from Oran. According to the inmates, these incidents were the result of 21 inmates' refusal to participate in a meeting organized by the Psychological Action. According to the administration, it was a strike organized by agitators transferred from the camp of Arcole. This, they say, made it necessary to send a company of C. R. S. in as reinforcements, and led to insurrectional fighting in the camp. The 97 agitators were then confined to the cells. The mission protests that throughout its visit, it was followed by a general intelligence man attached to the camp who 'visibly sought to keep an eye on the inmates with whom we talked'. The report concludes: “This visit leaves us with an unfavorable impression. Unhappily, it confirms the protests which we have received in other camps'.
“The mission visited twelve prisons, the most important ones in Algeria. It met and talked with a large number of inmates, those waiting to be sentenced, and those already condemned and serving their sentence. It was able to meet Mr. Henri Alleg, and Miss Djamila Bouhired - the first, at the Barberousse Prison of Algiers (1,044 inmates), the second, at the prison of Maison-Carree (1,471).
“The main criticism, often repeated in the twelve reports on prisons, concerns the overcrowding of the penal institutions. These are now at the very limit of their capacity, or even sometimes beyond - for example, the central prison of Berroughia with a capacity of 1000 prisoners had 1,496 inmates at the moment of the mission's visit. There were 1,874 in the prison of Oran, 1,027 at the Maison Centrale of Orleansville, 473 at the Maison d'Arret of this same city, 413 at TiziOuzou, and 651 at Constantine. On several occasions, there have been typhoid epidemics in some prisons, notably at the Maison Centrale of Lambese in the Aures (1,725). Generally, the conditions of detention were correct, even good, medical care assured, and the inmates did not put forth protests. At Maison-Carree, several releases have taken place, but the inmates of A category - that is, those imprisoned for political reasons - refuse all conditional liberation. They have at all times insisted on recognition of their political status.
“The mission visited three hospitals, at Batna, Maillot, and Saida, where it saw the wounded well cared for and decently treated.
“The only general conclusion contained in the report is put in the following terms:
“ 'In ending this report, the International Committee of the Red Cross is pleased to recognize that some improvements have taken place in certain aspects of the detention conditions since its last mission in December 1958. But, as it appears in these documents, very basic modifications seem indispensable, in particular in the Centers of Transit and Interrogation. The International Committee hopes that the French authorities will take into account its findings and suggestions, and undertake an effective and permanent control over the conditions and methods of interrogation in these centers. It expresses in advance its gratitude to the French Government for this.'”
COMMUNIQUE OF THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT OF THE ALGERIAN REPUBLIC ANNOUNCING ITS RATIFICATION OF THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS
Tunis - April 11, 1960
“The Council of Ministers met at Tripoli from April 4 - 6, 1960. The agenda of the meeting included a discussion of the political, diplomatic and military situation and the application of the decisions of the National Committee of the Algerian Revolution.
The Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic has decided to ratify the Geneva Conventions and has taken the necessary dispositions for this ratification."