Part II: Reviews that should be made by the US Representatives
Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life(2005)
During the year paramilitary groups committed unlawful killings, including political killings. The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) reported that from January to March armed militia killed several members of the opposition All-Ethiopia Unity Party/Coalition for Unity and Democracy (AEUP/CUD) in the Amhara Region. For example, on January 19, militia killed AEUP member Anley Adis and local AEUP chairman Eyilegne Wendimneh, both of Debay Telat-gen District, Yebabat Kebele. On February 28, militia killed Tilahun Kerebe of Ankesha District, Sostu Shumata Zegsa Abo Kebele; and on March 21, Alamir Aemero of Shikudad District, Absela Kebele. By year's end, police had arrested two suspects in the killing of Tilahun Kerebe.
The Oromo National Congress (ONC) reported that, between March 19 and September 24, police, militia, and kebele (local administration) officials shot and killed 24 members and supporters. For example, on March 28, police shot and killed Ahmed Adem of Chelia District, Ijai Town. On June 12, police shot and killed parliamentarian-elect Tesfaye Adane, representing Arsi Negeli Town, East Shoa Zone. Some of these killings were a result of confrontations in which both sides were armed. By year’s end, three policemen suspected of being involved in the killing of parliamentarian-elect Tesfaye Adane were detained at Zway Prison and their case was under investigation.
EHRCO reported that on April 23, kebele officials shot and killed Hassan Endris, a coordinator for the CUD in South Wollo Zone, Were-Ilu District, Kebele 11, in the Amhara Region. On May 15, government security forces shot and killed Sheikh Osman Haji Abdella of Shashamane District, Hurso Sembo Kebele, Oromo Region.
The Ethiopian Social Democratic Federalist Party (ESDFP) reported that on August 18 army troops killed Bezela Lombiso of Gibe District in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region, and raped his wife. Bezela faced charges of killing a policeman during the 2000 national and regional elections.
The CUD reported that on September 11 armed militia beat CUD member Asefa Getahun and that he died of his injuries the following day. On October 1, local militia shot and killed CUD member Girma Biru, of Sultulta Wereda, Mulo Town. The CUD stated that local administrators and armed militia were responsible for the October 11 extrajudicial killing of Mosse Wasse, in Shoga District, west Gojjam/Jiga, Amhara Region; and the October 16 extrajudicial killing of Tila Tsega, at Lay Gaynt/Nefas Mewucha, North Gonder.
In October 2004 EHRCO reported several alleged killings by police. For example, on October 18, police shot and killed Geletaw Mamo, of North Shoa Zone, Keya Gebriel Kebele, Amhara Region. A suspect in the killing was in police custody in the town of Jima. Authorities released a suspect in the November 2004 fatal police shooting of Nesredin Shehselo, a baker in Bole Subcity, Addis Ababa, on bail. Three suspects in the November 2004 fatal police shooting of Ashenafi Tabor, of Ilu District, Teji Town, were in custody at Sebeta police station. A suspect in the December 2004 fatal police shooting of Efrem Alemayehu, of Kirkos Subcity in Addis Ababa, was in police custody. A suspect in the January 3 fatal police shooting of Kebede Uzo, of Jijiga Town in the Somali Region, was in police custody in Jijiga.
There were no significant developments in the following cases of persons killed by security forces in 2004: the March killing of ninth-grade student Alemu Tesfaye in Oromiya Region; the killing of high school student Amelework Buli of Oromiya Region; the March to May killings of AEUP supporters; and the June incident of military personnel colliding with and then firing on a civilian vehicle in Gode town, killing 10 persons.
There were no developments in the case of district police responsible for the 2003 killing of opposition Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Coalition (SEPDC) member Aeliso Tieliso.
The government reported that prosecutions had begun against several individuals suspected of the December 2003 to May 2004 extrajudicial killings of 13 Anuak civilians in the Gambella Region. In March Amnesty International reported that government soldiers had killed, raped, and tortured hundreds of Anuaks in the Gambella Region during that period.
During 2005 EHRCO reported that, from June 6 to 8, the police and army shot and killed 42 unarmed demonstrators in Addis Ababa. Between November 1 and 7, military and police forces opened fire on rioters who were throwing rocks, and in some cases were armed with machetes and grenades, killing at least 40 individuals in Addis Ababa (see section 2.b.). For example, on June 6, following unrest at Addis Ababa University, police shot and killed Shibre Desalegn of Yeka Subcity and Yesuf Abdela, a student at Kotebe Teacher’s Training College. On June 8, police shot and killed 16-year-old student Nebiy Alemayehu of Kolfe Subcity, and Zulufa Surur (a mother of seven children), while security forces killed 16-year-old brothers Fekadu Negash and Abraham Yilma. Federal police acknowledged the death of 26 persons on June 8 following an unlawful demonstration. Several police were also killed during the November riots. On December 7, the government established an independent commission of inquiry to investigate circumstances surrounding the killings. The commission publicly issued a call for information and complaints.
EHRCO reported that on July 24 and 26 unidentified persons detonated hand grenades inside 4 hotels and a residence in the town of Jijiga, killing 5 persons and injuring 31. Police took suspects into custody and the case was under investigation.
Armed elements of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) continued to operate within the country. Clashes with government forces on numerous occasions resulted in the death of an unknown number of civilians, government security forces, and OLF and ONLF troops and members.
At year's end there were approximately two million landmines in the country, many dating from the 1998-2000 war with Eritrea. During the year landmines killed seven civilians, injured four, and destroyed seven vehicles in districts bordering Eritrea. The government demining unit continued to make limited progress in its survey and demining of border areas. United Nations Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) officials reported that new landmines were planted on both sides of the Ethiopian‑Eritrean border during the year.The government and UNMEE engaged in demining activities in selected areas along the border and disseminatedinformation on the whereabouts of suspected mined areas to local residents.
In June, July, October, and November, suspects arrested for the April 2004 hand grenade attack on a television room at Addis Ababa University (AAU) during a Tigrigna language news program appeared in court; the trial was scheduled to resume in January 2006.
There were no developments in the May 2004 hand grenade attack on a Tigrayan-owned shop in Debre Zeit, Oromiya Region. Police blamed the OLF for the attack.
Ethnic clashes resulted in hundreds of deaths during the year (see section 5).
The federal high court in Addis Ababa continued to arraign and prosecute those formally charged with committing genocide and other war crimes, including extrajudicial killings, under the 1975-91 Derg regime (see section 1.e.).
b. Disappearance
There were reports of disappearances perpetrated by government forces during the year, some of which may have been politically motivated. In nearly all cases, security forces abducted persons and detained them in undisclosed locations for varying lengths of time ranging from weeks to months. Thousands of such cases occurred in response to calls for struggle against the government by the OLF in Oromiya and during post-election public demonstrations in November and December.
EHRCO reported the disappearance of 17 persons between June 8 and 10. On June 8 police abducted Ashenafi Berhanu, Tsegaye Neguse, Daniel Worku, and Adem Hussien, all working in Addis Ababa, and Jelalu Temam of Arada Subcity in Addis Ababa, and the brothers Girum Seifu and Mekonnen Seifu of Lideta Subcity; on June 9, security forces abducted Endeshaw Terefe of Addis Ketema Subcity in Addis Ababa, and federal police abducted Daniel Abera, Tesfaye Bacha, Tesfaye Jemena, Bonsa Beyene, and Getu Begi of Bole Subcity in Addis Ababa; and on June 10, Solomon Bekele of Lideta Subcity, and Amanuel Asrat, Mesfin Mergia, and Dawit Demerew of District 9, Kebele 7. The whereabouts of these individuals were not known.
There were no new developments in the May 2004 detention of Jigsa Soressa, a guard at the Mecha and Tulema Association (MTA), an Oromo nongovernmental organization (NGO), who reportedly continued to be detained at Addis Ababa prison.
The government and independent sources reported that Oromo singer Raya Abamecha, who disappeared in 2004, had returned to Addis Ababa. Details of Abamecha's disappearance were not known at year's end.
On June 9, three Ethiopian air force personnel landed a military helicopter at Ambouli, Djibouti; two of them reportedly requested asylum, but an Ethiopian military delegation reportedly convinced them to return to Ethiopia the next day. AI and UNHCR attempted to visit them in Djibouti but were refused. At year’s end, family members told local press that the pilots were detained at an air force base and were restricted from seeing visitors.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Although the law prohibits the use of torture and mistreatment, there were numerous credible reports that security officials often beat or mistreated detainees. Opposition political parties reported frequent and systematic abuse of their supporters by police and regional militias.
EHRCO reported that on May 14, Abdeta Dita Entele, a member of the opposition coalition Oromo National Congress/United Ethiopian Democratic Forces of Siraro District in the Oromo Region, committed suicide following the severe beatings he received from kebele officials.
On October 16, two men armed with pistols attacked Daniel Bekele, a policy advocate for the NGO ActionAid Ethiopia and a member of the executive committee of the Network of Ethiopian Nongovernmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations, which monitored the May 15 elections. According to ActionAid, the armed men beat him in the eye. At year’s end, Bekele was in police detention on charges of treason and genocide.
Authorities took no action against police responsible for the February and March 2004 police beatings of students, teachers, and parents at Oromiya Region high schools and universities; or against militia responsible for May 2004 attacks on its members reported by the opposition All-Ethiopia Unity Party. Security forces beat persons during demonstrations (see section 2.b.).
In October 2004 an undisclosed number of the approximately 330 students expelled from Addis Ababa University following the January 2004 Oromo student protests, who had been ordered by police to kneel and run barefoot on sharp gravel for several hours, were readmitted to the university (see section 2.b.).
There were no significant developments in cases of beatings and torture committed by security forces in 2003.
Unlike in previous years, there were no reports that security forces beat journalists.
On August 11, local and international media reported that the federal high court sentenced to death two former senior government officials accused of torturing political opponents during the former Mengistu regime -- former National and Public Security Minister Tesfaye Woldeselase and Leggesse Belayneh, former head of criminal investigations.
During the year ethnic clashes resulted in hundreds of injuries and deaths (see section 5).
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison and pretrial detention center conditions remained very poor, and overcrowding continued to be a serious problem. Prisoners often were allocated fewer than 21.5 square feet of sleeping space in a room that could contain up to 200 persons. The daily meal budget was approximately 25 cents (2 birr) per prisoner, and many prisoners had family members deliver food daily or used personal funds to purchase food from local vendors. Prison conditions were unsanitary, and access to medical care was unreliable. There was no budget for prison maintenance.
In detention centers police often physically abused detainees. Diplomatic observers reported firsthand accounts of such beatings from Addis Ababa University student detainees in Oromiya. Authorities generally permitted visitors, but sometimes denied them access to detainees.
While statistics were unavailable, there were some deaths in prison due to illness and poor health care. Prison officials were not forthcoming with reports of such deaths.
Authorities sometimes incarcerated juveniles with adults, if they could not be accommodated at the juvenile remand home. There was only one juvenile remand home for children under age 15, with the capacity to hold 150 children.
Human rights organizations reported that the government had transported 10 to 18 thousand individuals (mostly youths aged 18-23 detained during the November mass house-to-house searches in Addis Ababa) to Dedessa, a military camp formerly used by the Derg regime located 375 kilometers west of the capital. Observers expressed concern that the camp's remote location and lack of facilities threatened the health of detainees. Human rights organizations reported on similar detention camps in and around Bahir Dar. Most of these detainees were released by year’s end. The government transported an unknown number of other detainees to other detention facilities around the country during the same November period.By year’s end the government publicly announced that it had released all but three thousand detainees, who would be charged with relatively minor crimes potentially carrying sentences of up to several months confinement. International observers were denied access to the detention facilities, but local NGO Prison Fellowship Association was permitted access.
During the year the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) generally had access to federal and regional prisons, civilian detention facilities, and police stations throughout the country, and conducted hundreds of visits involving thousands of detainees. The government also granted diplomatic missions access, subject to advance notification, to prison officials. Authorities allowed the ICRC to meet regularly with prisoners without third parties being present. The ICRC received permission to visit military detention facilities where the government detained suspected OLF fighters. The ICRC also continued to visit civilian Eritrean nationals and local citizens of Eritrean origin detained on alleged national security grounds.
Government authorities continued to permit diplomats to visit prominent detainees held by the special prosecutor's office (SPO) for alleged involvement in war crimes and terrorist activities. However, the government denied representatives of the international community, including the ICRC, access to leaders of the CUD opposition party, members of civil society groups, and journalists detained in early November for alleged involvement in antigovernment demonstrations in Addis Ababa, who remained in federal police custody at Addis Ababa's Ma-Ekelawi detention facility at year's end. The government permitted Prison Fellowship Association and local religious leaders to visit these detainees.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
Although the law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, the government frequently did not observe these provisions in practice.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
The Federal Police Commission reports to the Ministry of Federal Affairs, which in turn is subordinate to the parliament. Local government militias also operated as local security forces largely independent of the police and the military. Petty corruption remained a problem in the police force, particularly among traffic policemen who solicited bribes from motorists. Impunity also remained a serious problem. The government rarely publicly disclosed the results of investigations into such types of abuses. The federal police acknowledged that many members of its police force as well as regional police lack professionalism.
The government continued its efforts to train police and army recruits in human rights. During the year the government continued to seek ICRC assistance to improve and professionalize its human rights training and curriculum to include more material on the constitution and international human rights treaties and conventions.
In late November parliament established a commission, whose members were appointed by the prime minister, to investigate the violent demonstrations of June and early November. The chair of the commission reported to a group of foreign ambassadors that it would begin in February 2006 to investigate alleged use of excessive force by security forces.
Arrest and Detention
Authorities regularly detained persons without warrants and denied access to counsel and family members, particularly in outlying regions, and for those thousands of young persons detained during and after the November riots. According to law, detainees must be informed of the charges against them within 48 hours, but this generally was not respected in practice. While there was a functioning bail system, it was not available for some offenses, including murder, treason, and corruption. In most cases authorities set bail between $115 and $1,150 (1 to 10 thousand birr), which was too costly for most citizens. In addition police officials did not always respect court orders to release suspects on bail. With court approval, persons suspected of serious offenses can be detained for 14 days while police conduct an investigation, and for additional 14‑day periods while the investigation continues. The law prohibits detention in any facilities other than an official detention center; however, there were dozens of crude, unofficial local detention centers used by local government militia. In the Oromiya region, a police training facility was used as a makeshift prison during and after the November riots.
The government provided public defenders for detainees unable to afford private legal counsel, but only when their cases went to court. While in pretrialdetention, authorities allowed such detainees little or no contact with legal counsel.
There were many reports from opposition party members that in small towns authorities detained persons in police stations for long periods without access to a judge, and that sometimes these persons' whereabouts were unknown for several months. Opposition parties registered many complaints during the year that government militias beat and detained their supporters without charge for participating in opposition political rallies (see section 1.c.).
The government continued its harassment of teachers, particularly in Oromiya and Tigray. The independent Ethiopian Teachers Association (ETA) reported that authorities detained numerous teachers and accused them of being OLF sympathizers, many of whom remained in prison at year's end. Some of the teachers had been in detention for several years without charges. Human rights observers suspected several of the prolonged detentions were politically motivated.
Police continued to enter private residences and arrest individuals without warrants.
Police detained journalists during the year (see section 2.a.).
Authorities took no action against Amhara Region government militia, district officials, police who arbitrarilydetained AEUP members in April and May 2004, or against police who arbitrarily detained ONC member Olbana Lelisa from May to July 2004 without filing charges against him.
During the year police detained persons for holding meetings and demonstrations (see section 2.b.).
Opposition groups alleged that some of the persons detained by the SPO were held for political reasons, an allegation that the government denied (see section 1.e.).
Following the June 6 to 9 demonstrations protesting the announced outcome of the May 15 parliamentary elections, police detained thousands of opposition members and other residents of Addis Ababa. Government security forces took three to four thousand residents from their homes and detained them in Zway prison outside the capital. EHRCO reported the illegal detention between June 10 and 16 of 74 opposition political party activists, businessmen, and students. Security forces beat and detained an estimated five thousand individuals in various prisons around the country. On June 29, the federal police reported that it had detained 4,455 "suspects;" most were released after several days of detention. In mid-September, however, 40 percent of the prisoners at Shoa Robit prison (742 of 1,866 prisoners), north of Addis Ababa, were young men arrested around the time of the June demonstrations on charges of dangerous vagrancy. In September the government arrested more than one thousand members of the CUD and UEDF opposition coalitions, following their announcement of plans to hold demonstrations on October 2. In November, 30-200 motorists were arbitrarily detained for honking their horns during the African Union summit opening ceremony in response to an opposition call for civil disobedience.
In November military and police conducted door-to-door searches in Addis Ababa, often at night, and detained without warrant between 10 and 18 thousand youths, aged 18 to 23, believed to have been involved in violent antigovernment demonstrations. In August and September police and local militia arrested six Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) members without warrant in the East and West Welega Zone of Oromiya Region: Shiferaw Fekadu, Fikru Benti, Mitiku Terfa, Abraham Jiregna, Abdeta Abraham, and Habte Tesema.
The OFDM reported that ruling Oromo People's Democratic Organization (OPDO) cadres harassed, intimidated, and detained hundreds of OFDM members who served as observers during the May 15 parliamentary elections. For example, in Arsi Zone, Assassa District, cadres arrested and detained Sheikh Mahmud Tusuru for several days. Authorities interrogated Gebeyehu Hayato, the son of a newly elected member of parliament, over 10 times. OFDM member Hussein Adem faced 20 days imprisonment in Sodere District. At year's end, nine OFDM members who served as observers during the May election remained detained in Gachi district of Illubabor zone. The OFDM reported to the NEB that local officials arrested 10 OFDM members in Kokosa Constituency, Nansibo District, Bale Zone. OFDM also reported the detention of 13 of its members in Borena Zone, Bule Hora District.
In response to attacks by armed opposition groups operating out of Somalia and Kenya, the military continued to conduct operations, which included occasional arbitrary detentions, in the Gambella, Somali, and Oromiya regions.
In November authorities re-arrested CUD member and mayor of Addis Ababa Dr. Berhanu Nega and Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, two prominent academics and human rights activists, for participating in planning antigovernment protests aimed at the removal of the government. At year's end they remained in confinement on charges of treason and genocide, along with several members of NGOs active in civic education, and independent journalists. Other prominent CUD leaders arrested included: CUD president Hailu Shawel; Dr. Yacob Hailemariam, a former prosecutor for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; and CUD vice-president Ms. Birtukan Mideksa, a former judge. Their prison conditions were reported to be adequate, especially those of the CUD leaders, who had separate cells. However, access to legal counsel was sporadic, and there were serious concerns about access to adequate medical care.
Authorities took no action against Amhara Region government militia, district officials, and police who arbitrarily detained AEUP members in April and May 2004; or against police who arbitrarily detained ONC member Olbana Lelisa from May to July 2004 without filing charges against him.
Authorities took no action against police who detained hundreds of Oromo students and teachers for several weeks in detention centers on suspicion of being supporters of the OLF in 2004 (see section 1.c.).
Thousands of criminal suspects reportedly remained in pretrial detention, some for years. Some of the detainees were teachers and students from the Oromiya Region accused of involvement in OLF activities, or who were arrested after student unrest broke out in Oromiya in February and March 2004.
The government detained several persons without charge at the Gondar prison, some for years, while the police investigated their cases. In April, authorities sentenced Wondante Mesfin to life imprisonment following his conviction on murder charges; he had been in detention in Nefas Mewcha prison in South Gondar Zone since 1994.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
While the law provides for an independent judiciary, the judiciary remained weak and overburdened. Most perceived the judiciary to be subject to significant political intervention.
The government continued to decentralize and restructure the judiciary along federal lines with the establishment of courts at the district, zonal, and regional levels. The federal high court and the federal Supreme Court heard and adjudicated original and appeal cases involving federal law, transregional issues, and national security. The regional judiciary was increasingly autonomous and often heard regional cases.
Regional offices of the federal Ministry of Justice monitored local judicial developments. Some regional courts had jurisdiction over both local and federal matters, as the federal courts in those jurisdictions had not begun operation; overall, the federal judicial presence in the regions was limited. Anecdotal evidence suggested that some local officials believed they were not accountable to a higher authority. Pending the passage of regional legislation, federal procedural and substantive codes guide all judges.
To remedy the severe lack of experienced staff in the judicial system, the government continued to identify and train lower court judges and prosecutors, although officials acknowledged salaries did not attract the desired number of competent professionals.
Trial Procedures
According to the law, accused persons have the right to a fair public trial by a court of law within a "reasonable time;" the right to a presumption of innocence; the right to be represented by legal counsel of their choice; and the right to appeal. Despite these protections, closed proceedings occurred, at times authorities allowed detainees little or no contact with their legal counsel (see section 1.d.), and detainees usually were not presumed innocent. The public defender's office provides legal counsel to indigent defendants, although its scope remained severely limited, particularly with respect to SPO trials. Although the law explicitly stipulates that persons charged with corruption are to be shown the body of evidence against them prior to their trials, authorities routinely denied defense counsel access to such evidence before trial.
The law provides legal standing to some pre‑existing religious and customary courts and allows federal and regional legislatures to recognize other courts. By law, all parties to a dispute must agree that a customary or religious court will be used before it may hear a case. Shari'a (Islamic) courts may hear religious and family cases involving Muslims. In addition, other traditional systems of justice, such as councils of elders, continued to function. Although not sanctioned by law, these traditional courts resolved disputes for the majority of citizens who lived in rural areas, and who generally had little access to formal judicial systems.
The federal first instance court's seventh criminal branch handled cases of sexual abuse against women and children. By the end of the year the court had received 541 cases and had passed verdicts on 351 cases.
Three federal judges sat on one bench to hear all cases involving juvenile offenses. There was a large backlog of juvenile cases, and accused children often remained in detention with adults until officials heard their cases.
The military justice system lacked adequately trained staff to handle a growing caseload. Foreign assistance to train military justice officials resumed during the year.
There was no new information on the activities of the SPO, established in 1992 to create a historical record of the abuses committed during the Mengistu government (1975‑91, also known as the Derg regime) and to bring to justice persons responsible for human rights violations. Approximately one thousand persons remained in detention charged with Derg-era offenses. Court‑appointed attorneys, sometimes with inadequate skills and experience, represented many of the defendants.
Political Prisoners
The total number of political detainees during the year was estimated to be in the several thousands.
While the law stipulates that all suspects be arraigned before a court within 48 hours, the leaders of the CUD, civil society, and journalists were held without access to courts, counsel, and family for many days. Human rights groups and political parties (such as the CUD, UEDF, and OFDM) reported that police and local militia detained thousands of persons in police stations and detention camps for several days in order to conduct interrogations.

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at7:57 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home