ICCPR Case Digest




Submission: 2015.06.26

View Adopted: 2022.10.24

Mohamed Djaou v. Algeria

Enforced disappearance at the hands of the Algerian security forces

Substantive Issues
  • Effective remedy
  • Enforced disappearance
  • Legal Personality
  • Liberty and security of person
  • Respect for the inherent dignity of the human person
  • Torture / ill-treatment
Relevant Articles
  • Article 10
  • Article 16
  • Article 19
  • Article 2 - OP1
  • Article 2.2
  • Article 2.3
  • Article 23
  • Article 3 - OP1
  • Article 5.2 (a) - OP1
  • Article 5.2 (b) - OP1
  • Article 6.1
  • Article 7
  • Article 9
Full Text


The author of the communication is Mohamed Djaou, a national of Algeria. He is acting also on behalf of his son, Tewfik Djaou. The author submits that the Algerian Department of Intelligence and Security (DRS) asked him to lead a militia to fight against Islamist groups in the country. When he refused, he was called a traitor and threatened. Shortly after, DRS officers apprehended Tewfik Djaou. However, the DRS subsequently denied that he was in its custody. Since his apprehension, the author and his family have never seen Mr. Djaou again. In 1998, two former inmates revealed that they had seen Mr. Djaou in prison and that he had been tortured, but both civilian and military authorities refused to investigate the issue. The author alleges that his son is a victim of enforced disappearance. Therefore, he claims that Algeria violated his son’s rights under articles 2(3) (right to an effective remedy), 6(1) (right to life), 7 (prohibition of torture), 9(1-4) (arbitrary detention), 10(1) (humane treatment of persons deprived of their liberty), 16 (right to recognition as a person before the law), 23(1) (protection of the family). He further claims that, in light of the suffering caused by his son’s disappearance, the State party also violated his rights under articles 2(3), 7, 19 (freedom of expression) and 23(1).


The Committee notes that Mr. Djaou’s disappearance was reported to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. However, it observes that the mechanism does not qualify as a procedure of international investigation or settlement. Moreover, the Committee states that, in light of the continuing nature of enforced disappearances, the fact that the communication was submitted several years after the exhaustion of domestic remedies does not constitute an abuse of the right to petition the Committee. Lastly, the Committee observes that the claim under article 19 has not been sufficiently substantiated, and is thus inadmissible. All other claims are admissible.


Since the State party has not provided any evidence to demonstrate that it has fulfilled its obligation to protect Mr. Djaou’s life, the Committee concludes that the State party violated article 6(1). In light of the suffering caused by incommunicado detentions and the lack of explanations by the State party, the Committee also finds that Algeria violated Tewfik Djaou’s rights under articles 7 and 9. Moreover, Mr. Djaou’s enforced disappearance deprived him of his right to recognition as a person before the law, in violation of article 16. Since the State party did not guarantee access to an effective remedy, the Committee also finds a violation of article 2(3), in conjunction with the aforementioned articles. Lastly, in consideration of the suffering caused by his son’s disappearance, the Committee concludes that the author’s rights under article 7 were violated. Given these findings, the Committee decides not to examine the claims under articles 10 and 23 separately.


The State party is required to:

  • (a) conduct a prompt, effective, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into the disappearance of Tewfik Djaou and provide the author with detailed information on the results of this investigation;
  • (b) release Tewfik Djaou immediately if he is still being detained incommunicado;
  • (c) in the event of Tewfik Djaou’s death, to return his remains to his family in a dignified manner, in accordance with the cultural norms and traditions of the victims;
  • (d) prosecute, try and punish those responsible for the violations committed with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the violations;
  • (e) and provide the author, as well as Tewfik Djaou, if he is alive, or his heirs, with adequate compensation.

The State party is also required to take measures to prevent similar violations in the future. The State party is required to ensure that the right to an effective remedy for victims of grave violations such as torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances is not hindered. To this end, the State party should review its legislation in light of its obligation under article 2(2) of the Covenant, and in particular repeal the provisions of Ordinance No. 06-01 that are incompatible with the Covenant, so that the rights enshrined in the Covenant can be fully enjoyed in the State party.


Deadline: 24 April 2023

More info on the case:

Alkarama - Algeria: the case of Tewfik Djaou’s abduction from his jewellery shop by the security services now before the UN Human Rights Committee

The North Africa Post - UN Human Rights Committee establishes Algeria’s responsibility in violations suffered by Tewfik Djaou

By: Giacomo Bruno

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