THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN ETHIOPIA
The present report is the second one of the Ethiopian Human
Rights Council, (EHRCO). The first one came out on December 12,
1991. In that report the details of 1106 prisoners, the arbitrary
dismissal of 18 persons from three different organisations, the
loss of human life and damage to property in armed conflicts in
Harerghe and Arsi were noted. Moreover, the Ethiopian Human
Rights Council has made a general statement on property: No
person shall be deprived of his property without due process of
law. For the most part, the present report covers the complaints
received since December 12, 1992. It may be pointed out that the
procedure adopted by the Ethiopian Human Rights Council was to
send its reports first to the Transitional Government, making it
public only after one week. But since the response of the
Ministry of Internal Affairs was that because the necessary
subsidiary laws have not been proclaimed yet, the Ethiopian Human
Rights Council, like all organisations, does not yet have the
legal personality. As a result they "found it difficult to
respond" to the questions of the Ethiopian Human Rights
Council. Therefore, the later has no choice but to make the
report public without informing the Transitional Government in
2. Hopeful Signs Of Due Process
Although the issues of human rights continue to be of
much concern to all Ethiopians in various parts of the country,
there are some positive signs which suggest a movement in the
right direction. The Ethiopian Human Rights Council is pleased to
point out the following new and positive developments: 2.1.
Thousands of former officers of the armed forces were released
from the prisons in Tolay, Hurso, Diddessa and Tateq.
2.2. Hundreds of WPE members who were imprisoned in Holeta have
been released, although there are still many left.
2.3. Many of the military officers imprisoned with the high
officials of the former regime in Sendafa have been released.
2.4. Perhaps the most promising development is the release of
prisoners by court ruling. A few prisoners have already been
released by court order. Among these are the three officials of
the National Democratic Union.
2.5. It has been announced that some of the police force would be
brought back to active duty. This was to have started on January
20, 1992. But there is still no sign of them on the streets. If
it is implemented, this decision is another welcome sign because
there is certainly a serious problem in the control and
investigation of crimes.
2.6. It has also been announced that a Special Prosecution Office
shall be established to screen and prosecute detainees. This,
too, is a positive step.
2.7. The fact that there is at least a decision to provide
uniform to the EPRDF militia may be one step forward introducing
order and, therefore, one more positive sign. It should not be
forgotten, however, that a good proportion of the EPRDF militia
is made up of very young children, many as young as 14 years old,
who should be in schools.
2.8. According to Ethiopian Herald (December 22, 1991), the
Council of Representatives has ratified the United Nation's
Convention on The Rights of the Child of November 20, 1989. This
is indeed very welcome.
3. Disturbing Incidents
While the Ethiopian Human Rights Council is pleased to commend
the developments described under 2. above, it is also its duty to
report some of the disturbing incidents which suggest the
contrary and tend to dim our hopes for the future. These are
3.1. The most serious new development on the negative side of
human rights in Addis Ababa has been an increasing number of
persons who are shot and left on the streets for some time. This
is a total disrespect for human life. The victims are often
allegedly thieves or robbers who never have the benefit of due
process of law. That one individual who happens to carry a gun
could pronounce the death penalty and instantly administer the
execution is very alarming. It is known that there is at least
one case of killing which has nothing to do with stealing: for
instance, Ato Birhane H. Mariam was killed by EPRDF militia on
January 4, 1992 .The following specific instances have also been
reported to the Ethiopian Human Rights Council:
3.1.1. Ishetu Alemayehu and Masresha Alemayehu, two brothers,
were killed by Peace and Stability Committee on November 10, 1991
at 6.30 p.m. in Kefitegna 4, Qebele 50.
3.1.2. Demu Alemu was killed while guarding a car in front of
Beddilu Building at 3:00 a.m. on December 26, 1991.
3.1.3. Alemayehu Kasa, a 17-year old boy was shot and seriously
wounded by a Peace and Stability Committee member in Kefitegna
10, Qebele 05 on October 19, 1991. 3.1.4. Indeghena Taye was shot
and wounded by a Peace and Stability Committee member at about 10
a.m. on December 11, 1991 in Kefitegna 21, Qebele 30.
3.2. Cases of torture in some of the prisons have been reported
without any evidence. But we now have a very serious and
disturbing case of torture which has been reported to the
Ethiopian Human Rights Council. On Tahisas 19, 1984 (Dec. 29,
1990) at about 12:30 after midnight the EPRDF guards of the old
Political School detained Ato Haileyesus Arefe-Ayne and beat him
3.3. There are also cases of invasion of private homes by armed
militia during night hours.
3.4. All the high officials of the former government were moved
from the Addis Ababa prison, the former political school, to
Sendafa which is about 40 km. away. This move was especially hard
on families and relatives who almost daily take food for the
prisoners. Then, a selected number of these former high officials
were brought back to Addis Ababa's famous Ma'ikelawi prison on
Belay Zeleke road.
4. Detention Without Due Process Of Law
The Ethiopian Human Rights Council has expressed its stand on
indefinite detention in very clear terms in various ways. There
is nevertheless a persistent misunderstanding by some officials
of the Transitional Government. We shall not be tired to repeat
once again that it is not the stand of the Ethiopian Human Rights
Council to defend crimes of any kind. We reiterate that persons
who are detained should be brought to court in a short time, i.e.
a few days. The courts then shall decide whether the detainees
should be released, or released on bail, or be detained for a
specified time. That is the due process of law. It is in that
spirit that we report the following indefinite detentions. We
plead for the implementation of the laws declared in the Charter
by the Transitional government itself in order to alleviate the
sufferings of the detainees and their families.
|Place of Prison
||No. of Prisoners
|Addis Ababa Prison
|Kef. 23, Qebele 10, A.
|4th Division, A. A.
|6th Police Station, A.
|Aqaqi Police Station
|5th Police Station, A.
|Debre Birhan Prison
|Prison, Near Teshale
|Debre Zeyit Prison
|Awasa Police Station
|Menzina Ghishe, Mehal
|3rd Police Station, A.
||Security Personnel *
|Qetena 4 Prison, A. A.
|Bahir Dar Prison
|Danghila (Gojjam) Prison
|Awsa, Dubti Prison
The total number of detainees outlined above comes to 1720.
* It has been brought to the attention of EHRCO that close to
100 of these former security personnel are kept separately under
stricter conditions and some 30 others have been brought to Addis
5. Disturbances Generated By Organisations
It is known that in the last six months the organisation of
ethnic, and "nationality", groups has been promoted and
as a result ethnic organisations have been proliferating
throughout the country. The competition between these
organisations, some of them armed, has caused considerable
problem for peasants and urban dwellers in various parts of the
country. We shall first report complaints from the organisations
5.1. IFLO, The Islamic Front for the Liberation of Oromos, has
reported the following incidents:
5.1.1. Its Deputy Chairman, Sheik Abdurahman Yusuf and the Head
of the Political Office, Izedin Mehammed Ahmed, were killed and
five other members were wounded by EPRDF militia in Dire Dawa on
January 18, 1992.
5.1.2. On December 12, 1991 one of its members, Abdulrazaq
Mehammed, was killed and two others wounded, also in Dire Dawa.
5.1.3. Dr. Faisal Birru, Deputy Chief of the military wing, was
detained in Asfaw Kasa Hotel and was found killed a few days
5.2. G.P.D.O., the Ghideo People's Democratic Organisation,
reported the following:
5.2.1. The people in Dilla, Dema, Michele, Tumticha, Ghedeb,
Cheleleqtu, Qoqe, Arram and Haru in Ghideo Awraja have been
subjected to heavy artillery fire from the militia of EPRDF, as a
result of which up to January 17, 1992, not less than 100 persons
have been killed and hundreds wounded.
5.2.2. The wounded were prevented from having medical services.
5.2.3. Many houses have been burnt and many residents of the
places cited in 5.2.1. have run away to safety leaving all their
5.2.4. Over 500 members and supporters of the Organisation are
detained without the benefit of receiving any food from their
5.2.5. People are threatened to abandon GPDO and to join EPRDF's
5.3. The Sidamo Liberation Movement, SLM, has reported that on
Hidar 27, 1984, the Chairman and his entourage were fired upon by
EPRDF as a result of which one person died and two were wounded.
Their vehicle was totally destroyed. The Ethiopian Human Rights
Council would like to remind all organisations seeking political
power two principles: First, they must all accept the sovereignty
of the Ethiopian people, for that is the meaning of democracy.
Armed conflict is anti-democracy. Second, in order to carry on
necessary activities for their precarious living, the Ethiopian
people need peace. The conflict between organisations is creating
adverse conditions for peace and stability thereby making it
difficult for people to carry on their normal economic
activities. We therefore urge all organisations to refrain from
violence and to settle their differences peacefully through
6. The Effects of Conflict Between Organisations
All information from various parts of the country seem to
indicate that the rivalry and armed conflict organisations is
causing considerable suffering to the peasants and much loss of
their property. Summaries of some of these reports are outlined
6.1. Peasant association representatives from Fedis Awraja have
reported to the Ethiopian Human Rights Council about their
sufferings resulting from the conflict of various organisations
which vie for their support. A large number of their livestock
have been looted by the armed bands of these organisations.
6.2. Many persons from the tribe of Gabra in Yabelo Awraja have
allegedly been killed by armed Boran groups and large numbers of
livestock have been looted from them.
6.3. The Boran, on their part, report that some armed bands who
infiltrated in Dololowachu, Liben Wereda, have caused the deaths
of many persons and the breakdown of law and order in the area.
6.4. In Limu Awraja of Illubabor non-Oromo groups are under
considerable pressure. They are forcefully disarmed, their money
and their livestock are looted. Their churches, too, are looted
and closed. Such churches include St. Michael in Ghicho, Kidane
Mihret in Mana, and Medhane Alem in Qomba. Many are imprisoned.
The reports indicate that non-Oromo groups are not allowed to
trade between themselves, but only between them and Oromos.
Moreover, they are not permitted to leave their villages and go
to other towns to report their complaints.
6.5. In Gara Mulleta Awraja, Harerghe, the inhabitants of Ghirawa
and Kurfa Chelle are surrounded by armed groups who do not allow
them to leave the towns. CARE which had a relief project in the
area has presently suspended its operations there.
6.6. In Neghele Wereda, Haiqoch and Butajira Awraja of southern
Shewa many lives have been lost and much property looted and
destroyed since Tahisas 8, 1984 (Dec. 18,1993) by conflicts
instigated by some organisations.
6.7. In Arba Gugu Awraja of Arsi the situation detailed in the
first report of EHRCO has not improved. In fact there are reports
that indicate further deterioration.
7. Persons Denied Pension Rights
Pension in Ethiopia is administered by law. All civil servants
and members of the armed forces are by law entitled to pension.
Moreover, each government employee contributes a certain amount
deductible from his/her salary during the time of service. If and
when the person is incapacitated, even outside the line of duty
the right to pension holds. But when a person is incapacitated in
line of duty the right becomes even more imperative. Ordinary men
and women who for different reasons found opportunities for
employment under the previous regime must not be made to carry
the burden of the sins of that regime. Both on legal and
humanitarian grounds these persons, especially the disabled,
deserve their pension.
The following grievances have been brought to the attention of
the Ethiopian Human Rights Council:
7.1. Some 1500 war victims in Jegnoch Amba at Debre Zeyit
report that they were asked to choose between living in the
centre which is specifically constructed for the purpose of
taking care of severely handicapped war victims or having their
pensions and living out. Without the facilities of the Centre
many of them will suffer much and may even die. At the same time
they need their pensions for their families who live outside. It
is a tragedy that such severely incapacitated people fail to
arouse the sympathy of officials.
7.2. Some 400 war victims at the Qore Rehabilitation Centre in
Addis Ababa are also denied their pension. Most of them have
physical damage which is rated to be 60 to 80 %.
7.3. Some 353 members of the former armed forces are denied their
7.4. Representatives of the former air force have been pleading
with the Transitional Government for either employment
opportunities or respect of their pension rights.
7.5. About 2000 former Addis Ababa policemen have also been
requesting for either job opportunities or respect of their
7.6. About 36 former Jimma policemen have a similar request as
their fellow policemen from Addis Ababa.
8. Dismissal Of Employees Without Due Process
Employees of government organisations and institutions have
been dismissed for alleged maladministration and corruption
without any due process. The allegations are ascribed to the
so-called grievances committees. Among the organisations and
institutions affected are Tendaho Agricultural Corporation, the
Addis Ababa Quarry, the Ethiopian Management Institute and the
Addis Ababa Hilton. The Prime Minister's Office has recently
issued a directive which is intended to avoid further violations
of human rights. The grievances committees are not allowed by
this directive to dismiss employees. This directive is
commendable insofar as it prevents future violations of human
rights. However, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council recommends
the violations already committed be redressed in the spirit of
the new directive.
9. Violations Of Property Rights
According to Article 17(2) of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his/her
property. In violation of this law many persons have been
dispossessed of their property by EPRDF forces in various parts
of the country. Among these are the following:
9.1. Weizero Felleqech G. Kristos's vehicle, a taxi with license
9.2. Weizero Beliyu Mulat's vehicle, a Datson, license No.
9.3. Weizero Assellefech Moltotal's vehicle, a Toyota, license
9.4. From Gojjam administrative region the following 22
(twenty-two) persons have been deprived of trucks belonging to
Names of Owners License No.
Ato Ahmed Adem 07438
Ato Temesghen Molla 13228
Ato Adem Seid 06422
Ato Shama Abeje 09801
Ato Isleman Adem 12408
Ato Mulugheta Tefera 04458
Ato Deres Menghistu 00612
15.Wr. Tiberih Ambaye 09184
Ato Tareqegn Dese 08970
16.Ato Leghese Tekle 03519
Ato Usman Shafiro 08073
17. Ato Melaku Bayeh 05124
Ato Mehammed Abraham 12705
18.Wr. Hareghe-Wein Yilma 07062
Ato Abdir Mehammed 12252
19.Ato Ghebeyehu Sherifo 07273
Ato Yitayew Ghebre 12373
20. Ato Ghetinnet Adem 07154
Ato Yitayew Ghebre 09340
21. Ato Kasa Beqele 08813
Ato Mehammed Dawid 12606
Ato Yohannis 00019
The Ethiopian Human Rights Council wishes to stress that the
officials of the Provisional Government first take note of the
fact that the violations enumerated above are based on the
Universal Declaration of Human rights which is accepted
"without any limitation" by the Charter; second, that
the respect for human rights is the foundation for peace and
democracy. Therefore, we urge them to do their utmost to improve
conditions and to create a climate of confidence and the rule of
law. The Ethiopian Human Rights Council, on its part, is always
prepared to participate and contribute its share in any effort to
resolve problems by peaceful and legal means. It stands for
peace, democracy and the rule of law. The Ethiopian Human Rights
Council requests all individuals, human rights and humanitarian
organisations, international agencies and religious institutions
to support and promote the cause of human rights, the democratic
process and the rule of law in Ethiopia.