'Torture' in Algeria

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LONDON (Reuter) - Torture has become widespread and human rights violations have increased dramatically since Algeria was placed under a state of emergency a year ago, Amnesty International said yesterday.

Since February 1992, Amnesty said, more than 9,000 suspected Islamic activists have been held in internment camps in the desert without charge or trial, and 1,000 are still detained.

About 300 people have been killed by security forces, many in armed clashes. But Amnesty said a significant number appear to have been innocent bystanders 'deliberately killed while allegedly crossing police barriers, breaking the curfew or in other circumstances where they posed no threat of violence'. Amnesty said it had received scores of testimonies of torture and spoken to victims, their families and doctors.

'Their testimonies show that the practice of torture in Algeria - virtually eradicated after 1989 - resumed after February 1992 and dramatically increased during the last quarter of 1992.'

'The failure of the Algerian government publicly to denounce torture or take strong measures to halt it suggest that those in authority are tolerating or condoning the practice,' said Amnesty. It urged the government to take immediate steps to eradicate torture.