Algerian police announced on Sunday that they had opened an investigation into allegations that officers sexually assaulted a teenage boy detained during anti-government demonstrations.
The 15-year-old was apprehended on Saturday in Algiers, the North African country’s capital, where the Hirak, a long-running pro-democracy protest movement, holds daily protests calling for political reform.
“After the circulation of a video on social networks in which the authors claim that a minor was mistreated in a police station in Algiers, security forces … informed the public prosecutor, who immediately ordered an investigation,” a police statement said.
In one video, the boy is seen sobbing as he leaves the police station, while in another, he claims the officers “mistreated” him and “tried to rape him.”
Amnesty International has demanded that the charges be investigated by a “independent” body.
After reports that Hirak activists were tortured in custody, the Algerian League for the Protection of Human Rights (LADDH) renewed its call for an investigation last month.
During the trial of Hirak activist Walid Nekkiche in February, the 25-year-old student said that while in police custody, he was “sexually, mentally, and verbally abused” by members of the security services.
An investigation was later confirmed by the public prosecutor.
The protests mark a resumption of the street protest movement, which had been suspended a year earlier due to the COVID-19 pandemic, calling for the old political system to resign and the army to leave politics.
The movement began in February 2019 and, within weeks, pressured then-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign after abandoning his bid for a fifth term.
Before the global coronavirus pandemic hit Algeria a year ago, the demonstrations were held on a weekly basis.