THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN ETHIOPIA

FIRST REPORT December 12,1991

The Ethiopian Human Rights Council was formed on October 10, 1991. It may be recalled that the establishment of EHRCO was publicly announced on October 29, 1991. Even before the announcement was made, complaints were submitted to EHRCO, and after October 29 there was a continuous flow of complaints from many parts of the country. To date EHRCO has received a large number of complaints of human rights violations by various government bodies and mass organisations from individuals and groups. These complaints were submitted to the Secretariat of EHRCO from October 21 to November 27, 1991.

The Executive Committee of EHRCO, after careful consideration and investigation by its various committees, has referred these alleged cases of human rights violations for appropriate rectification by concerned government bodies of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia. The request has been addressed to the Ministry of Internal Affairs with copies to the Prime Minister's Office, the Council of Representatives, and the Ministry of Law and Justice of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia.

A. Concerning Prisoners
Based on the complaints received, EHRCO's stand on unlawfully detained persons is that all such detainees should either be released or legal actions instituted against them without any further delay.
Accordingly, EHRCO has monitored such cases of unlawfully detained persons kept in various prisons without being given the right to bail, or without being legally prosecuted. These are summarised as follows:

  Place No. of Prisons No. of detainees
Persons reported to have been detained for alleged participation in red terror activities  

Addis-Ababa
Welqite
 

11

1
 

212

4
 

Persons reported to have been detained for alleged various other crimes  
Addis Ababa
 


1
 


52
 

Former security personnel   Holeta  

1  

816  

Persons reported to have been detained for alleged maladministration   Addis Ababa
Dire Dawa
 

3
1

4
1

Persons reported to have been detained for unknown reasons  
Addis Ababa
 


1
 


14
 

Officials of the National Democratic Union Party detained for alleged incitement to violence during an authorised demonstration  
Addis Ababa  
1  
3  

Ato Mehari Bekele Haile is presently detained in Addis Ababa prison for a case of homicide for which he had been charged, convicted and released after serving his term earlier.

Persons Reported To Have Disappeared:
1.Qenyazmch Birhanu Sharew from Shire (Tigray), since Tiqimt,1975 (October 1982)
2. Dr. Beyene Asefa, since Pagume 3, 1983 (September 1990).

B. Concerning Dismissals
Eighteen persons from three different organisations are reported to have been arbitrarily dismissed from their jobs for alleged maladministration.

C. Concerning Conflicts
Reported loss of human life and property damage due to ethnic and religious conflicts in Arsi and Harerghe administrative regions.

1. In Arsi administrative region, Arba Gugu Awraja, in Jeju, Godana, and Gololcha Weredas, and in Merti Awraja in the localities of Arboye Wenjelo, Asensabo, Weshebo, Angodechu and Wedaymena some 154 Christians are reported to have been killed or burnt in their homes. About 20 Christians were reported wounded. A large number of houses, including two churches were burnt. As a result thousands of people have become homeless. Moreover, the surviving victims have reported that large numbers of their livestock and goods in stores have been forcefully taken away from them. Other reported property damages include the dismantling of flour mills and the burning of granaries. Though no specific report has reached EHRCO, there is reason to believe that further damages to life and property have been caused by retaliatory actions of Christians.
2. In Western Harerghe administrative region, in Habro Awraja, 46 Christians were reported to have been killed in four localities.

D. Concerning Property
No person should be deprived of his property without due process of law. EHRCO has received several complaints of violations of this right and these complaints are being investigated by special committees. When the investigation is completed EHRCO will report the facts to the Provisional Government and subsequently to the public.

E. Concerning the Response of Ministry of Internal Affairs
The response from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to whom EHRCO's report, the contents of which are outlined above, was submitted, is the following:
1. "The Provisional Government is in the process of enacting subsidiary legislation to serve as guidelines for the establishment of various political, human rights, trade unions and other non-governmental organisations.
2. These legislation will regulate the relationships among these non-governmental organisations themselves and their relationships with the government.
3. EHRCO's legal personality must be recognised pursuant to these regulations. Until these conditions are complied with the Ministry will find it difficult to respond to EHRCO's report." Nevertheless, EHRCO will continue to monitor and report human rights violations.