Letter: Algeria's agony

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The Independent Online
Algeria's agony

ROBERT FISK draws attention to the danger in Algeria of civilians armed and supported by the state ("Militias implicated in Algeria's reign of terror", 23 April). Recent atrocious massacres appear to have woken the international community to the appalling situation in Algeria, upon which Amnesty International has been reporting for more than six years.

One of the few ways to break the cycle of such violence is to set up impartial and public enquiries and bring those responsible for killings, torture and other abuses to justice, whoever they may be. The Algerian government has not done this. The international community has had the opportunity to take action. But it has not done so.

The international community could have acted through the United Nations Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR), whose annual meeting in Geneva ended on 24 April. But none of the 53 member states (including the UK) apparently felt able to take the lead and table a resolution about Algeria - such as calling for the appointment of a UN special rapporteur, which could have led to action. Pleas to the Algerian government to cooperate, which it has refused to do, were quite inadequate.

What does it take to get something done? How many more deaths must there be? Those governments who only a few months ago said they could no longer simply stand back have done just that. Each member state bears a heavy responsibility for the lives which continue to be lost daily in Algeria.

ROGER GOLDSMITH

Country Coordinator for Algeria

Amnesty International UK

Colwyn Bay

Clwyd

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