Friday, August 23, 2013

The Justice System Becoming a Political Tool in Ethiopia

Calls for Reversal of Racially and Politically Motivated Sentences

The Federal High Court of Ethiopia sentenced 21 Oromo Nationals (most of whom are university students) to as much as 2-8 years in prison on 7th August, 2013. The report HRLHA received indicates that all of them have spent about three years pending trials on alleged charges of collaborating with the opposition organization of Oromo Liberation Front with the intention of committing terrorist crimes. According to information obtained by HRLHA through its correspondents, most of the defendants were very young Oromo students picked up at different times from different universities and colleges in the regional state of Oromia and other parts of the country.

The HRLHA has learnt that most of the 21 Oromo defendants did not even have acquaintance of each other, let alone collectively committing terrorist crimes, as they were brought together from different universities in the country and met each other in the jail. According to some legal experts, the fact that the charges were mere fabrications aimed at imposing punishments intended for political intimidations has made it difficult for the accused to defend themselves. However, by blatantly acting as a political tool of the ruling party, the court handed down the guilty verdict on the Oromo nationals without taking into consideration some evidences that the defendants attempted to present to defend themselves against the charges. There are more concerns that particularly five of the twenty one defendants who were charged with additional and separate article (criminal code, article 241,“Attack on the Political or Territorial Integrity of the State”, from the sixteen others might face very harsh punishments.

Although this sentence did not come as asurprise, as it is not the first of its kind, it has enormously added to the accumulation of partiality, injustice and unfairness of the justice system, raising further concerns among the human rights groups, and defenders of justice and equality including the HRLHA.

The twenty one alleged convicts are

No Name Year of sentence University Sex

1Dachassa Wirtu Mosisa Haromaya M

2 Ebissa Ratessa Ambo 8M

3Getu Saketa Finfine (Addis Ababa)M

4Diribsa Damte Jote 8 Finfine(Addis Ababa)M

5Adamu Shiferra 8Finfine (Addis Ababa)M

6Sena Merera 3 Arba Minch M

7Silashi Sori 3 Haromaya M

8Abdisa Gudeta 3 14 Mada Walabu M

9Miressa HYesus 3 Finfine (College student)M

10Abdi Dereje 4 Wallega M

11Deme Zerhun 4 Finfine (College Student) M

12Alemayehu Regassa 3 Hawasa M

13 Shafi Said 3 Jimma M

14 Dagim Bekele 3 Adama M

13 Lami Jirata 4 Teacher (Finfine) M

14 Birhanu Imiru 4 Teacher(Kotobe Coolege) M

15 Alemu Teshome Jirata 3 Journalist (Finfine) M

16 Shashe Said 3_F

17 Getachew Abera 3 Wallaga (Shambu)M

18 Dereje Getu 3-M

19 Jirenya Dessaleg n3_M

20 Lemi Wegga 4 Teacher M

21Alemu Teshome 3_M

Dachassa Wirtu Diribsa Damte Sena Merera

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa calls up on the Ethiopian Government to reverse this unfair verdict and unconditionally release the prisoners. It also calls up on all local, regional, and international activists of justice and human rights defenders to jointly raise their voices against such racial partialities and injustices so that the Ethiopian Government refrain from inappropriately using the justice system as a weapon of punishment and intimidation for political gains

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