Human rights lawyer stabbed in “attempted murder”

Salah Dabouz, lawyer and human rights activist, was stabbed by hooded strangers, yesterday early in the evening in Ghardaia, his friend Kacem Soufghalem told the press. His supporters and family members have come out to denounce an “attempted murder“.

Salah Dabouz was the victim of a stabbing attack at the Chouahin neighborhood in Ghardaïa. I have just taken him to the emergency room. Hooded men attacked him” wrote Kacem Soufghalem on Facebook.

Sahah Dabouz is a popular figure in the country, he has been at odds with the authorities of Ghardaïa, over the treatment of the Mozabite minority, and in particular the Wali (governor) of the region, appointed by former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who he accused multiple times of normalising human rights abuses and corruption.

Salah Dabouz was also the legal representative of Kameleddine Fekhar, a human rights activist who was mistreated in custody and died as a result. The Algerian authorities had promised an investigation, however, no investigation was carried out and none of the officials were held accountable, which led the human rights lawyer to start a hunger strike. It is common practice in the country for the authorities to announce investigations, but never actually start them, analysts estimate that such announcements (of investigations) are only a public relations exercise meant for the international community.

The authorities had forced him to sign in with the court three times per week in Ghardaïa, 600 KM away from he resides in Algiers, a treatment he denounced as a “vengeance” for his human rights work.

Interviewed by El Watan in July, the human rights lawyer stated:

Zahira Fekhar and her children entrusted me with filing a complaint against five officials, who are Azeddine Mechri, wali of Ghardaia, Ben Salem Mohamed, attorney general at the Ghardaia court, the investigating judge of the first chamber of the court of Ghardaia, the director of the Ghardaia prison and the director of the hospital, Tirichine Brahim. They feel they have a responsibility in the death of Kamel Eddine Fekhar.

Only, the investigating judge of the second chamber refused to open a judicial inquiry even before considering whether Fekhar was dead or not, why he died and under what conditions, and without considering whether Zahira Fekhar is really the legitimate wife of Kamel Eddine or an imaginary character.

And when I appealed, the Clerk of the Indictment Division flatly refused to contact me, indicating to me that it was the instructions of the President of the Court, not to mention the autopsy report that still has not been provided to the Fekhar family. We are therefore faced with a situation of flagrant denial of justice. The hunger strike I am leading is a first reaction to this situation. We will certainly follow other actions and procedures”.

This article will be updated when more information is gathered on the health situation of the victim.