Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ethiopia: Drop Case Against Bloggers, Journalists

Nairobi, July 19, 2014) – The Ethiopian government should immediately drop politically motivated charges brought against 10 bloggers and journalists on July 17, 2014, under the country’s deeply flawed anti-terrorism law.

The Ethiopian authorities arrested six of the bloggers and three journalists on April 25 and 26. They have been detained in Maekelawi, the Federal Police Crime Investigation Sector in Addis Ababa. The court charged the nine with having links to banned opposition groups and trying to violently overthrow the government, local media reported. A tenth blogger, who was not in Ethiopia at the time of the arrests, was charged in absentia.

“Ethiopia’s courts are making a mockery of their own judicial system,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Hiding behind an abusive anti-terrorism law to prosecute bloggers and journalists doing their job is an affront to the constitution and international protection for free expression.”

READ more

Friday, July 18, 2014

How Do You Solve a problem like Ethiopia?

Why the arrest of one of Addis Ababa's most vocal critics is a huge embarrassment for the West.

Tall metal gates guard a courtyard just off a busy street north of London's financial district. The area, once down and out, is today much sought after, but scattered between the newly refurbished warehouses and loft apartments are some blocks of municipal housing populated largely by the city's African immigrant communities. Inside their yard, small boys are kicking a soccer ball. "Yemi's my mum," one of the boys says, leading the way up the building's aging concrete stairwell to the fourth-floor flat.

A small, slim woman, Yemi smiles easily. On her shelves are portraits of her parents, who left Ethiopia for the United States in 1982 to make a new life for their family. A black-and-white photograph shows her father as a young man in Ethiopian uniform. "He was in the army," Yemi explains. "But he left for civilian life in 1972 before the Derg took power."

The Derg, or "Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army," comprised a group of low-ranking officers who deposed Emperor Haile Selassie. The emperor had ruled Ethiopia for four decades until his failure to respond to a devastating famine in 1974 led to his overthrow and subsequent murder. Mengistu Haile Mariam, an obscure army major, led the coup and went on to rule Ethiopia with an iron fist, engaging in a ruthless campaign of repression that became known as the Red Terror. Executions were rife and tens of thousands of people were imprisoned until the Derg was ousted by the country's current rulers in 1991.

READ

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ethiopian farmer takes UK to court over 'brutal' resettlement policy

Legal battle launched after man claims he was evicted from his farm and beaten under villagisation scheme funded by UK aid

The UK's Department for International Development (DfID) is to face a full judicial review over its alleged funding of rights abuses in Ethiopia.


On Monday, a high court judge ruled that "Mr O", an Ethiopian farmer who claims that British aid helped fund a brutal forced resettlement programme in his home country, has an arguable case against the UK government.


His lawyers argue there is evidence that British aid contributions to Ethiopia's promotion of basic services (PBS) programme has helped support its controversial villagisation programme, which aims to move 1.5 million rural families from their land to new "model" villages across the country.


Since it was launched in 2010,the resettlement programme has been dogged by allegations of forced evictions, rapes, beatings and disappearances.


Ethiopia is one of the biggest recipients of British aid and the UK is a major donor to its PBS programme, which is intended to improve access to education, healthcare and other services for poor and nomadic people. However, human rights campaigners say British money is also being used to pay the salaries and administrative costs of the officials running the relocation scheme.

Read more

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ethiopia: UK Aid Should Respect Rights

Ruling Permits Review of Development Agency’s Compliance

July 14, 2014

(London) – A UK High Court ruling allowing judicial review of the UK aid agency’s compliance with its own human rights policies in Ethiopia is an important step toward greater accountability in development assistance.

In its decision of July 14, 2014, the High Court ruled that allegations that the UK Department for International Development (DFID) did not adequately assess evidence of human rights violations in Ethiopia deserve a full judicial review.

“The UK high court ruling is just a first step, but it should be a wake-up call for the government and other donors that they need rigorous monitoring to make sure their development programs are upholding their commitments to human rights,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “UK development aid to Ethiopia can help reduce poverty, but serious rights abuses should never be ignored.”

Read more

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ethiopia PM Hailemariam defends Andargachew Tsege arrest

Ethiopia had a moral obligation to arrest the opposition leader who was controversially extradited from Yemen last month, Ethiopian leader Hailemariam Desalegn has told the BBC.

"Andargachew Tsege is a Trojan horse for the Eritrean government to destabilise this country," he said

He was sentenced to death in 2009 while in exile for plotting a coup.

Foreign governments could express their concern, but the man would be dealt with according to the law, the PM said


Read more

The Arrest of Andargachew Tsige, The Final Straw for the People of Ethiopia?




by GRAHAM PEEBLES


Faced with a brutal repressive regime, the people of Ethiopia inside the country and within the worldwide diaspora –frustrated, angry and desperate – are considering alloptions to elicit fundamental change in the country.

The EPRDF, who seized power from the communist Derg in 1991, rule the country through fear and intimidation. Development aid, including food and other essentials, is distributed in a partisan manner, so too employment opportunities. The Government’s human rights record is appalling and an arsenal of ambiguous, universally condemned legislation is used to control and suppress the populace. The “deeply flawed” [Human Rights Watch (HRW)] Anti Terrorism Act, being the bluntest judicial weapon, is repeatedly employed to silence critical voices and imprison those who dare to speak out against the government. Since its adoption in 2009 “the independent media have been decimated by politically motivated prosecutions under the law…Blogs and Internet pages critical of the government are regularly blocked,” [Ibid] and an all-pervasive atmosphere of fear is created by the paranoid dictatorship that spies on opposition members and journalists using surveillance practices that “violate the rights to freedom of expression, association, and access to information.” [HRW]

Although enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution (a liberally acceptable, consistently ignored document written by the EPRDF) as basic rights, as well as in various African and international conventions, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Ethiopia has ratified, freedom of the media, of assembly and association, together with all forms of political dissent are essentially outlawed. The opposition parties have up until now been marginalized and largely ineffective.

read more

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ethiopia: Fears for Safety of Returned Opposition Leader

London) – An exiled Ethiopian opposition leader unlawfully deported by Yemen back to Ethiopia is at risk of mistreatment including torture. Andargachew Tsige is secretary-general of Ginbot 7, a banned Ethiopian opposition organization, and was convicted and sentenced to death in absentia in separate trials in Ethiopia in 2009 and 2012.

The current whereabouts of Andargachew, a British national, is unknown, raising concerns for his safety. The Ethiopian government should take all necessary steps to ensure Andargachew’s safety and his right to a fair trial. Many individuals arrested in politically related cases in Ethiopia are detained in Addis Ababa’s Maekelawi prison. In an October 2013 report, Human Rights Watch documented the use of torture by authorities against detainees in Maekelawi, including members of opposition political parties and organizations, as well as journalists.

“We are deeply concerned for Andargachew Tsige’s safety,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “Ethiopia needs to demonstrate that it is holding Andargachew in accordance with its international obligations, and he should be allowed immediate access to a lawyer, his family, and to British consular officials.”

read more