The Algerian justice ministry said that nearly 55,000 people accused of committing “terrorist offences” have faced legal proceedings in Algeria since the country’s bloody civil war in the 1990s.
This was the first time the Algerian authorities openly discussed such numbers. The government uses the term “terrorists” for members of armed Islamist militias. eNCA reports that these militias launched a vicious war against the country’s military and police – and against moderate s Algerians – in 1992, after the government cancelled the second round of the parliamentary elections for fear that the Islamist would win a majority.
More than 220,000 Algerians died in the 12-year war, which saw atrocities committed by both the Islamists and the military.
The war officially ended in September 2005, when Algerians voted in a referendum to approve a reconciliation agreement which saw 15,000 Islamists being pardoned in exchange for surrendering their arms.
On Monday, Justice Minister Tayeb Louh told parliament that his ministry had set up a database on the number of people who have “faced legal proceedings for terrorist crimes.”
The database shows that from the 1990s to 21 December this year, the Algerian authorities initiated legal proceedings against 54,457 people.
Louh said the number includes those who were pardoned under the terms of the 2005 referendum. He did not offer details about the nature of the proceedings, or about the other cases.
Hundreds of Islamists were sentenced to death in the 1990s, but no execution has been carried out since 1993.
In the last four years, groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – and, more recently, ISIS – have become active again in Algeria.
Since the beginning of the year, the Algerian security forces have killed more than 100 suspected Islamists.