Monthly Archives: May 2020

Oromia: Arbitrary Arrests and Extra-Judicial Killings of Political Dissents Continued in Ethiopia

(A4O, 26 May 2020, Oromia) Arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killings of political dissents continued in Ethiopia amid the looming danger of Covid-19 over the Country.

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According to HRLHA’s Urgent Appeal, no progress to arrest of political dissents in Oromia. “Arbitrary arrest and forced disappearance of political dissents have been escalating throughout Oromia region compared to other regions of the country at this critical moment when the danger of Corona virus is highly threatening the country.”

HRLHA also revealed the details of many innocent citizens, supporters and members of the two vanguard oppositions namely Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)
who have been languishing in different known and unknown detention centers for several months.

“Hundreds have been mercilessly killed and even some of them were denied burial and eaten by hyena,” says the appeal.

According to the HRLHA’s argent appeal, journalists of Sagalee Qeerroo Bilisummaa Oromoo (Voice of Oromo Youth for Freedom) among others, Adugna Kesso and Gada Bulti; as well as Oromia News Network (ONN) journalists Dasu Dula and Wako Nole were arbitrarily arrested, denied safeguards of due process of law and remain suffering behind the Bar.

It also added that top OLF leadership and senior members such as Kayyo Fufa, Yaasoo Kabada, Dandi Gabroshe, Efrem Geleta, Mo’a Abdisa, Tariku Abdisa, Bayana Ruda (Prof), Aliyi Yusuf, Abdi Ragassa, Batire File, Gada Gabisa, Blisumma Ararsa, Olika Chali etc have been languishing in known and unknown prisons for several months without charge.

This Urgent Appeal addresses recent detailed arbitrary arrests, extra judicial killings and physical assaults where each cases are substantiated by photograph and important facts of the violations.

For further detail here is the link of the PDF format of the appeal: 1-May 25, 2020- HRLHA Urgent Appeal

Ethiopian police ignore court orders to free journalists held since March

Nairobi, May 22, 2020 — Ethiopian police should immediately and unconditionally free journalists Dessu Dulla and Wako Nole and media worker Ismael Abdulrzaq, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On March 7, police in the town of Burayu, on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, arrested Dessu, a deputy director at the privately owned Oromia News Network broadcaster, Wako, who contributes to the network and also reports for the radio broadcaster Sagalee Bilisummaa Oromoo, and Ismael, a driver for the station, according to the network’s chairperson, Buli Edjeta Jobir, and CPJ reporting from the time.On March 30, a court in Burayu ordered the three employees’ release after prosecutors said they could not make a case against them, according to Buli and their lawyer, Mulisa Ejetaa, both of whom spoke to CPJ in phone calls and via messaging app.

However, as of today, the three remain in detention, in violation of court orders issued in March, April, and May, while police claim to be investigating unspecified allegations against them, according to Mulisa, Buli, and an April 21 court document seen by CPJ.

The Oromia News Network, which operated in exile until 2018, primarily covers politics and is targeted at an Afaan Oromo-speaking audience; Sagalee Bilisummaa Oromoo, which broadcasts some of its programming on the news network, hosts programming that is supportive of the Oromo Liberation Front opposition party and also covers regional news, according to CPJ’s reporting.

“The detention of Dessu Dulla, Wako Nole, and Ismael Abdulrzaq, even after prosecutors said they had no case against them, and in defiance of court orders, is an unacceptable violation of their rights of due process,” CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo. “They should be released unconditionally, and those responsible for infringing their rights should be held to account.”

The three network employees were arrested alongside two members of the Oromo Liberation Front, Gada Gabbisa and Batire File, shortly after they visited Abdi Regassa, a member of the party’s leadership, who was detained at a Burayu police station, according to Buli, who was also at the station at the time, and CPJ’s reporting from March.

The network employees knew Abdi personally and also intended to file news reports about their visit, according to Buli, who said that Ismael is also a member of the party. Police initially accused the three of illegally photographing the police station, and claimed that Ismael had intentionally involved himself in a minor traffic accident with the intention of killing the officers who arrested them, Buli said.

After the police ignored the Burayu court’s release order on March 30, Mulisa filed a habeas corpus application on April 6, and police were ordered to produce the detainees in court, according to Buli and Mulisa. When they did not do so, a subsequent release order was issued on April 8, Buli said.

Police produced Ismael in court on April 9, but then returned him to custody and, in the weeks since, police have not complied with several subsequent orders to produce the detainees in court and to release them, Buli and Mulisa said.

In the April 21 court document reviewed by CPJ, the court said police did not comply with orders, failed to produce defendants when requested, and did not provide evidence for their case. The court ordered the officers to provide an explanation during an April 23 hearing, but they did not appear in court, Buli said.

On May 13, Burayu police said that Dessu, Wako, and Ismael had been transferred out of their custody, according to Buli and Mulisa. As of May 22, they were being held at a police station in Gelan, a town south of Addis Ababa, according to Buli and another source who is familiar with the case but asked not to be named for safety concerns, both of whom said the police did not disclose a reason for the transfer.

In a phone call last week, Oromia regional government spokesperson Getachew Balcha declined to respond to questions on the case, and referred CPJ to the regional attorney general, Daniel Asefa.

On May 14, Daniel told CPJ via phone that his office was investigating why the journalists were being detained. Today, he said that his office’s inquiry was still ongoing and he could not yet provide comment.

In a text message, Abebe Geresu, the deputy head of Oromia’s Peace and Security bureau, told CPJ that he did not know about these cases.

When Jibril Mohamed, head of the Oromia Peace and Security Bureau, was reached on the phone this afternoon, he said he could provide CPJ with comment in two hours. He did not answer subsequent calls.

Source: CPJ

THIS IS JUST A LITTLE ADVICE

By  Teshale Aberra

I came across something in a book I grabbed this morning called “POLITICS BY OTHER MEANS: Law in the struggle against apartheid. 1980-1994.”

Somewhere in this book, it says the following about apartheid South Africa ‘s Courts:

“[They] occasionally invalidated racist actions by the executive or legislator, such as segregation of public accommodation or disenfranchisement of Cape Coloured voters.”

Apartheid South Africa courts were not the ideal types of courts. No sane person is meant to praise that era’s judicial system, as there is nothing praise worthy about them.

And yet, there were instances where they were used by the oppressed majority black people to defend some of their rights. They were used as a channel through which oppression was aired, dramatized, exposed and challenged.

In short, even apartheid South Africa Courts were used to challenge the force of apartheid.

My question is, can Ethiopia’s courts, both Federal or States level draw some lesson from apartheid South Africa’s Courts?

To be honest, I have always thought that way and puzzled by this comparison.

I say so, because, leave alone judges who are paid by the government and frequently removed from office, allegedly, for lack of loyalty to the ruling party, even private attorneys (lawyers) are not free to take up cases which they think could call the attention of the ruling party. Fear of reprisal is real.

We witnessed time and again while lawyers decline cases for fear of reprisal. I am sure the South African lawyers were not totally free to represent the victims of the system of apartheid.

But they tried their best and some judges did what they had to. They are, as judges and their decision as the work of courts is remembered for the good work done.

I think Ethiopia’s courts may try to follow their suit.

Just imagine what could happen if lawyers brought a legal case at Ethiopia’s courts to challenge ‘the recent government measure of deployment of the deffense force, which put a large part of the country under miltary administration, suspending civil and political rights of people in those areas and caused huge loss of life and property, all in clear violation of the constitution!

Perhaps the lawyers who contributed to this kind of effort and the judges who could have made a decision to stop this kind of madness would have been remembered for generations. Above all they could have contributed something towards the continuity of Ethiopia as a state/nation.

More importantly they could’ve contributed in efforts of or wishes to establish a somehow independent judiciary.

Rather than participating in the melodrama and orchestration of breaking the constitution, as we saw on TV yesterday, judges, legal scholars and lawyers better spend their time on devising strategies on how to pull the entire judiciary out of the deep crisis it puts itself in, or the crisis forced on it by the system.

THIS IS JUST A LITTLE ADVICE