Subject: World Jurists say Ethiopia suppressing dissent

Date: Mon, 1 May 95 7:00:22 PDT

GENEVA (Reuter) - The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has accused Ethiopian leaders, who ousted a strong-arm Marxist regime in 1991, of suppressing political dissent and violating human rights.

In a report issued at the weekend, the ICJ and its U.S. affiliate association AAICJ, said the fairness of elections due May 7 in Ethiopia might be affected by a drive against opposition parties and other critics of the government.

The Geneva-based ICJ suggested countries providing aid to Ethiopia, which include the United States and many members of the European Union, were turning a blind eye to human rights violations under the country's new rulers.

The report, written by New York lawyer Donald T. Fox after an extensive visit to Ethiopia, ssaid the administration of th former guerrilla Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) was ``restricting political dissent.''

An ICJ summary of the report said, ``Those who dare to question its policies risk arrest, in some cases being beaten or even jailed.''

If suppression of dissent continued, ethnic rivalry and conflict could result, it said.

Under the pro-Soviet, self-styled Marxist-Leninist regime of former president Mengistu Haile Mariam, Ethiopia was widely accused of murder and torture of opponents, and his overthrow was widely welcomed at home and abroad.

``We are convinced that if violations of the rule of law continue with the approval of donor countries, these countries will lose the respect of the opposition parties and the people who believe in democracy within Ethiopia,'' the report said.

The ICJ links 33 distinguished jurists around the globe and has 75 national sections and affiliated organizations working to promote the world-wide rule of law.

The report said all opposition political parties in Ethiopia had refused to take part in this week's vote ``and private newspapers and other organizations not allied with the government consider it to be undemocratic.''

The ICJ report said the authorities had been imprisoning leaders and members of other major political parties, refusing to allow them to hold meetings outside the capital or give them access to the media controlled by the government.

The government had also been penalizing journalists under a vague press law and restricting the Ethiopian Human Rights Council because of reports accusing the EPRDF administration of extra-judicial killings, torture and disappearances.

leaders and members of other major political parties, refusing to allow them to hold meetings outside the capital or give them access to the media controlled by the government.

The government had also been penalizing journalists under a vague press law and restricting the Ethiopian Human Rights Couitical parties in Ethiopia had refused to take part in this week's vote ``and private newspapers and other organizations not alli