January 1996

1. Introduction

1.1. The police, public prosecutors, court registrars and judges are the principal actors in the process of ensuring respect for the law and bringing to justice the violators of the rights of citizens and the perpetrators of criminal acts. The duties of the police primarily consist of preventing the commission of crimes. And, in the event that this could not be achieved, the police are responsible for carrying out a thorough investigation in accordance with the law to find out the perpetrators of the criminal acts and submitting without delay the results of their investigations to the public prosecutors. The duties of the public prosecutors consist of overseeing that the police have carried out their duties of investigation in accordance with the law, preparing the necessary charges against the alleged perpetrators of the crime and filing them to the relevant court, and introducing during the trial the evidence compiled by the police. It is the responsibility of the court registrars to ascertain that all documents and charges to be presented to the court meet the legal requirements and formalities and to order that the files be presented to the judges. The judges are in turn expected to examine the petitions, law suits or charges, as the case may be, in an impartial manner and render justice in accordance with the law. Clearly then it is only when such public servants administer justice strictly according to the law, that citizens will have faith in the law, pay proper respect to it and lead a law-abiding and peaceful life. It is only then that citizens will be encouraged to seek redress for their rights rather than take the law into their own hands.

1.2 No one should be unlawfully deprived of his/her life, freedom and property. If, however, one is unlawfully detained, interrogated, charged, and finally convicted, there is justifiable ground to point one's finger to the dismal failure of the law. The victim of such a miscarriage of justice would only feel contempt for the law and harbour deep hatred towards the government in power. Law enforcement officers should heed the maxim: "It is better for the criminal to remain at large rather than for the innocent to be subjected to suffering." This is a basic principle enshrined in the Criminal Procedure Code. The mere suspicion that a person has committed a crime does not in the least prove that he/she has committed the alleged crime. It is incumbent upon the relevant authorities whose duties require them to carry out a thorough investigation of an alleged crime to pay attention to the basic tenet that "a person is innocent until proven guilty. " When the police receive information with regard to the commission of an alleged offence, they should proceed to investigate and determine the nature and circumstances of the relationship between the informant and the person who is alleged to have committed the offence, and ascertain whether or not the offence is committed before they detain and subject the alleged offender to the unpleasant ordeal of criminal proceedings. It is imperative that the source of the information the police have received be revealed to the suspect. This will help the latter to establish the motive of the informant, that is, whether he/she was motivated by revenge or personal gain. This will also save the police from taking illegal brutal actions to establish the truth. During the Derg regime, many people lost their lives and many more suffered mental and physical injuries as a result of anonymous and secret information passed on to the police and the security forces. The present law enforcement officers should beware of following the shameful and unlawful course taken by their predecessors.

1.3 In their attempts to protect the general social life and members of the society from crimes and to bring the offenders to justice, law enforcement officers should take appropriate care not to victimise the innocent. They should carry out their duties with due respect to human rights. If public officials responsible for law enforcement disregard the law and violate human rights with impunity, the law will only remain to serve as an instrument for persecuting the weak. The demand that citizens should abide by the law will naturally fall on deaf ears if the government itself disregards these laws. The least one expects of the government is to respect its own laws so that it would, first and foremost, stand as a model of good behaviour worthy of emulating.

1.4 EHRCO has periodically been receiving disturbing petitions from citizens whose rights have been violated. The list of offences include unwillingness on the part of law enforcement officers to investigate petitions and/or complaints, denial of their rights for a court hearing, physical abuse and injury inflicted by law enforcement officers, loss of life of relatives, etc. With regard to the administration of justice, on the other hand, there are cases of public prosecutors who were forbidden from filing charges against public officials who were believed to have committed crimes, and cases of judges who were thrown out from court rooms and put in prison. Some of these cases are presented in this report.

2. Non-Existence Of Judicial Independence

The Basic principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, Resolutions 40/32 of 29 November 1985 and 40/146 of 13 December 1985, provide that it is the duty of all governments to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary and that the judiciary shall decide matters before them impartially, on the basis of facts and in accordance with the law, without any restrictions, pressures, threats or similar interference. They also provide that persons selected for the judicial office shall be individuals of integrity and ability with appropriate training or qualifications in law. They further state that any method of judicial selection shall safeguard against judicial appointments for improper motives and that in the selection of judges , there shall be no discrimination against a person on the grounds of race, colour, sex, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin and the like. They also provide that the term of office of judges, their independence, security, adequate remuneration, condition of service, etc. shall be adequately secured by law; and that a charge or complaint made against a judge in his/her judicial capacity shall be processed expeditiously and the judge shall have the right to a fair hearing. Article 4(2) and (3) of proclamation no. 23/1984 promulgated by the Transitional Government of Ethiopia, state that judges shall be completely independent in the discharge of their judicial functions; no judge shall accept, execute or cause to be executed any order or entreaty from the State, any organ or official of the state, individual or organisation. Article 78(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE), which was approved on December 8, 1994 provides that "An independent judiciary is established." Article 79 also states that both at the federal and at State levels judicial powers are vested in the courts; that courts of any level shall be free from interference or influence of any government body, official of government, or from any other source; and that judges shall exercise their functions in full independence and they shall be directed solely by law . With regard to the dismissal of judges, sub-article(4) of the same Article states that "No judge shall be removed from his duties unless the Judicial Administration Commission decides to remove him for violation of disciplinary rules or on grounds of gross incompetence or inefficiency; or the Judicial Administration Commission decides that a judge can no longer carry out his responsibilities on account of illness; and when the Council of Peoples' Representatives or State Councils approve by a majority vote the decision of the Judicial Administration Commission." However, the following sample cases make it clear that all these provisions do not have any applicability.

2.1. The Case of Ato Mohmmed Aba Metcha Et.Al

2.1.1. Ato Mohammed Aba Metcha and Ato Ashebir Wolde Tsadik, both Judges of Gimbo Wereda Court in Kaficho Administrative Zone, were at their regular duties on the bench when on October 5,1995, at 5:00 P.M. the Court was suddenly surrounded by policemen armed with AK-4 automatic guns, under the direction of some members of the Gimbo Wereda Administrative Council. The two judges were made leave the court room, whereupon their bodies were searched, the keys to the doors of the court confiscated, and the doors were finally locked and sealed by the members of the Gimbo Wereda Administrative Council and some elders. The two judges, along with two prosecutors of the Wereda Court, Ato Woldemariam Adlo and Ato Gebeyehu Gizaw, were ordered to march to Gimbo Wereda Police Station where they were thrown into jail. During the night, however, the judges and prosecutors were abused and urinated on by prisoners whom they had earlier remanded to police custody. The next day, they were released on bail on condition that they would not leave Gimbo town

. 2.1.2. Subsequently, with a view to securing endorsement from the Judicial Administration Commission for their illegal action, the vice chair person of the Wereda Administrative Council, Ato Taddese Gebre, filed a charge against the judges and prosecutors by accusing them as follows:
1. Ato Belete Mammo had confessed that the judge, Ato Mohammed Aba Metcha, has swindled and put to his personal use nearly five hundred Birr collected from penalty fines, in complicity with Ato Belete Mammo, the Court's cashier; moreover, Ato Abebe Ambo, who were accused of misappropriating lost-and-found-property, have stated that the same Ato Bellete Mammo has collected fifty Birr each from them to be given to the judge as bribe in return for favour to release them on bail, and that Ato Belete Mammo has delivered the said money to the judge.
2. Ato Ashebir Wolde Tsadik had also received from the bribe money collected earlier by Ato Bellete Mammo. In addition, Ato Miks Sumano, who were accused of having beaten and broken the teeth of Ato Belalu Wafgo, have also stated that Ato Ashebir Wolde Tsadik had received several hundred Birr of bribe money collected by Ato Bellete Mammo from them in return for ordering that the case be closed when the parties concerned were reconciled.
3. That Miks Sumano have said that the prosecutor, Ato Gebeyehu Gizaw, had heard when they were advised to give a bribe, and that he is suspected of having shared the bribe money.
4. And as regards Ato Wolde-Mariam Adulo, the second prosecutor "the collection of bribes and the misappropriation of public funds in various ways by the judges and the prosecutors concerned were not isolated cases but well co-ordinated, and that the investigation to lay this bare underway. The executive body and the elders of our Wereda met on October 4, 1995, and decided that the people who have committed such heinous crimes which have undermined the very foundation of justice in our society should be brought to justice."

2.1.3. Having received the charge filed by the Wereda Council's Deputy Chairman, Ato Taddese Gebre, the Zonal High Court's Judicial Administration Commission made the accused Mohammed Aba Metcha to give their responses. After checking the Wereda Court was closed and sealed and the judges thrown into jail the Zonal High Court's Judicial Administration Commission ruled that the closure of the Court, the sealing of its doors and the imprisoning of the judges violated the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. It then recommended that those who had imprisoned the judges and barred and sealed the doors of the Wereda Court should be brought to justice and receive appropriate punishment. After hearing the testimonies of Ato Bellete Mammo and the rest of the accused, who claimed to have given bribes, the Judicial Administrative Council of the Zonal High Court, found Ato Mohammed Aba Metcha et. al guilty as accused and decided that they be dismissed from the bench.

2.1.4. However, Ato Mohammed Aba Metcha, have maintained that the ruling of the Judicial Administration Commission was motivated by fear of the members of the Wereda Council, and not because the accused were proven to be guilty as was claimed. Furthermore, they asserted that the testimonies of Ato Bellete Mammo, who claimed to have given the bribes to the judges, were heard in the absence of the accused and that the Judicial Administration Commission has not provided the latter with the opportunity to challenge the testimonies of their accusers. The accused also claimed that the members of the Wereda Council who imprisoned the judges were not even questioned, let alone formally charged.

2.1.5. EHRCO does not maintain that a judge should not be punished when found guilty of wrongdoing , nor does it maintain that judges should not be dismissed from the bench. On the other hand, EHRCO maintains that such a deed as the one carried out by the Wereda Council of Gimbo is dangerous since it has no legal basis, and consequently completely undermined the independence of the judiciary. The Wereda Executives' deeds reported above contravene the provisions of Article 79 (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia which provides that no judge shall be removed from his duties unless the Judicial Administration Commission decides to remove him for violation of disciplinary rules or on grounds of gross incompetence or inefficiency; or the Judicial Administration Commission decides that a judge can no longer carry out his responsibilities on account of illness; and when the Council of Peoples' Representatives or State Councils approve by a majority vote the decision of the Judicial Administration Commission. In the present case, however, it is the members of the Wereda Council, who have no legal authority either to appoint or dismiss judges, that have dismissed Ato Mohammed Aba Metcha from the bench and had them thrown into a jail that contains prisoners kept in custody by order of the very same judges who in turn became their victims for one night.

2.1.6. The Gimbo Wereda was sealed until January 14, 1996 and as a result the people of the Wereda were denied access to justice. The members of the Wereda Council who committed the unlawful deeds stated, when reporting to the founding Council of Kaficho-Shakcho Zone, that "the judges and prosecutors who thwarted the course of justice and inflicted harm on the people by their abuse of power have been dismissed." (see Yezareytu Ethiopia, 43rd year, No. 446, Hidar 29,1988{December 9, 1995}).

2.2. The Case of Ato Shachachew Sheno

2.2.1. Article 53 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that a warrant of arrest may be issued by any court at any time and on any day on the application of any investigating police officer. The Police Department of Shakcho Zone requested the Court to issue an arrest warrant to apprehend alleged criminals and subsequently to conduct an investigation in to the crimes, on the basis of the above provision of the law. The police request for an arrest warrant contained the following names: (1) Pvt. Alemu Agilo, (2) Ato Adinew Ayino, (3) Ato Adinew Baladrasha, (4) Ato Amlaku Ochomo, (5) Ato Taddese Adima, (6) Ato Melaku Zelleke, and (7) Ato Taddese Bekele. The justification for the request by the police was that the above named seven, who happened to occupy important positions in the Zonal Council, had allegedly abducted and taken by force to a place called Gemadro or Nitsuh weha and brutally beaten and killed W/o Mammite Wedo, Ato Worku Habte Michael and Ato Endeshaw Dima. The Zonal Public Prosecutor who had received this horrific information from the relatives of the victims had instructed them to investigate the crime. The three victims of this inhuman and cruel murder were earlier detained by the police on the pretext that they were relatives of an alleged bandit but were later released on their own cognisance. Unfortunately, however, it was while they were heading home that they met their horrible end. The 65 years old W/o Mammite We do was the mother of the alleged bandit while Ato Worku Habte Michael was the brot her and Ato Endeshaw Dima the uncle of the same alleged bandit.

2.2.2. Ato Shachachew Sheno, the presiding judge and vice-president of Shakcho Zone High Court since 1991, issued the arrest warrant requested by the police. The person in charge of the Economic Section of the Shakcho Zone Administrative Council, Ato Adinew Ayino, who was enraged by the issuance of the arrest warrant, wrote an angry letter to the Shakcho Zone High Court on 1 August 1995 stating that "decision has been made to suspend Ato Shachachew Sheno, the vice-president of the Zone High Court, from his duty as of 31 July 1995 until such time that the matter is examined and that an alternate or a final decision is made and he is in formed of it. The Shakcho Zone Police Department is informed about the case and ordered to disarm him with immediate effect upon receipt of the letter." The President of Shakcho Zone High Court, Ato Shimelis Shiferaw, in turn notified Ato Shachachew Sheno by a letter written on August 1, 1995, Ref. no. 669/87, stating that "this is to notify you that our office has received a letter dated August 1, 1995, Ref. no. F12/6024/87, from Shakcho Zone Administrative Council that you are suspended from your duties from July 31, 1995 until such time that an alternate or final decision is made."

2.2.3. Ato Shachachew Sheno's decision to grant the police request for the arrest of the alleged suspects was considered as too daring and criminal by the same alleged suspect, Ato Adinew Ayino, who ordered his removal from the bench.
2.2.4. Ato Shachachew Sheno opposed the action as a wilful attack on the independence of the judiciary and appealed to the Regional Supreme Court requesting for the case to be looked into and reviewed by the Judicial Administration Commission. The President of the Supreme Court in turn wrote to the regional government of the Southern People's National Council stating that "the action taken, in addition to violating hierarchical order and administrative regulations, contravenes both the federal and regional constitutions. If the judge has done any wrong while on duty, the case must be seen, in accordance with a disciplinary code of conduct by a Judicial Administration Commission, which will be established in future on the basis of the regional constitution. The officer in charge of the economic sector of Shakcho Zone Administrative Council did not have legal authority for the steps he has taken and, therefore, violates the constitution. We therefore request the regional government to reinstate the judge, to give the matter serious attention and to arrive at a decision that will serve as a deterrent lesson to all those individuals or parties who contemplate similar atrocious violations of the law." Nevertheless, both the appeal of Ato Shachachew and the letter of request of the President of the Supreme Court of the Region unfortunately fell on deaf ears. In the meantime, Ato Shachachew has fled to Addis Ababa because of the imminent threat to his life and is at the moment leading the life of a desperate fugitive. Moreover the person who has suspended him from his judicial function is believed to be making an all out effort to have him abducted by the police who seem to be under his direct orders.
2.2.5. Ato Adinew Ayino has also suspended the public prosecutor of the zone, Ato Alemu Chego, for accepting appeals for justice from the relatives of the victims and for ordering an investigation into the case in accordance with Article 16 of the Criminal Procedure Code which states that "an accusation may be made to the public prosecutor who shall forward it to the competent police officer with a view to an investigation being made under Article 22 et. seq."
2.2.6. Thus, when a judge gives an order in accordance with the law and the order given concerns the authorities, not only will the latter refuse to execute the order, but the judge will also be suspended and subjected to hardship. And, if such an illegal measure is taken by an "elected" public official, the official is unlikely to be prosecuted unless permission is obtained from higher authorities. For example, the circular written to the Zone and all the 28 Wereda Public Prosecutors Offices of Region 14 (Ref. No. k14 /185/ Ug -9/1 dated 19/02/1988 E.C.) states:
When you receive complaints or investigation files from the responsible quarters regarding persons elected and serving at various levels in Region 14, and those who are accused of committing offences while discharging their official functions, you are hereby instructed to consult the heads of the Region or Zone Public Prosecutors' Offices before filing a charge.
2.2.7. This directive could encourage elected public officials to commit illegal acts and violate human rights with impunity. The directive also paves the way for undermining the independence of the judiciary. It encourages elected public officials to consider themselves above the law by assuming that the Public Prosecutor's duty is to protect them against the law. Since the regime's directives generally emanate from one centre, we suspect that the members of the Wereda and Zone Council might have committed the above acts perhaps because of the existence of similar directive in the other regions.

3. The Non-Existence Of Justice

3.1. The government which came to power by overthrowing the Derg had dismissed almost all well trained and experienced judges, public prosecutors and registrars. Only very few were retained. Some of these dismissed legal professionals were replaced by individuals who had been given legal orientation for not more than six months. These are the ones who are appointed as judges, public prosecutors and registrars to administer justice regarding the lives , liberty and property of citizens. A considerable number of these give precedence to their political loyalty rather than to justice. The fact that a biology teacher has been appointed as head of the Public Prosecutor Office of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region is an indication of this tendency.
3.2. Following the downfall of the Derg the future of the courts and judges remained uncertain until the beginning of 1992. As a result the trial of all earlier court cases was frequently postponed. More and more new cases were added to the earlier ones. In the meantime, almost all senior judges were dismissed and replaced by less qualified ones. The different benches that used to be presided once by a single judge began to engage three judges. This aggravated the acute shortage of judges and as a result some court divisions were merged. The assignment of three judges to one division is welcomed, for it is believed that it will reduce the miscarriage of justice by deterring favouritism and bribery. However, we have observed that, apart from the few Central High Court benches, each of the three judges assigned to other benches consider three separate cases at the same time. When one judge hears arguments, the other two judges study separate files or write separate court orders. They do this not because they like to dispose of the cases in this way, but for lack of alternative given the large volume of cases. They hear not less than 30 cases a day. The situation is not better in the Wereda courts where a single judge is assigned to each bench. For instance, last year up to 65 labour cases were presented to the Wereda 20 Court in a single day. As a result there were instances where the judge was unable to give a ruling in a year even on minor preliminary objections. On the other hand, the Labour Proclamation (No. 42/92) provides that labour cases shall be decided within 60 days (see Art. 138 (2).
3.3. Even an action for cessation of interference can take up to two years to be decided on. For example, in the matter of Ato Feleqe Abebe and Ato Tesfaye Aberu, the law suit filed on 28 September 1993 at Wereda 3 Court was not decided until 4 August 1995. The issue that took two years to decide was a preliminary objection raised by the defendant stating that the plaintiff should sue the Qebele instead of the Chairman. The case was adjourned 30 times. Four different judges were assigned to the Court within this period. The fact that four judges were assigned to the Wereda 3 Court within two years shows that judges could be removed any time, which in turn confirms the non existence of an independent judiciary in the country.
3.4. In those courts where three judges are expected to hear and try a case together, there will not be hearings every time one of the judges absents himself for different personal reasons. This is due to lack of a reserve judge. In such instances the remaining judges call the parties to the office and tell them that the case is adjourned for another time. Too many files have been heaped up as a result.
3.5. What is puzzling is that, although the courts have been overwhelmed by cases, the judges do not start hearing on time. Courts resume their work very late after people have been tired of waiting. The earlier ones resume their work at 9:30 a.m. Others start hearing between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m. Since the working hour starts at 8:30 a.m. and the courts order the parties to appear at 8:30 a.m., interested parties will be forced to wait from 1 to 2 hours in the court compound until the courts resume their work.
3.6. Even after the establishment of a permanent government in place of the transitional one , those judges who were appointed by the TGE could not carry on their functions with a peace of mind, for they are not sure as to whether they will be allowed to continue because they have not been confirmed in accordance with the new Constitution. New judges have not also been appointed in place of those who voluntarily resigned or were forcefully removed. Citizens are complaining, for instance, against the Central Supreme Court on the ground that judges have not been assigned to hear criminal appeals. We may cite here the appeals of Professor Asrat Woldeyes and Ato Mesfin Yigzaw et. al which were lodged at the beginning of 1995. From among the three judges of the 2nd bench of the Central Supreme Court, only one judge is left and, as a result, criminal appeals could not be heard. Although we are at the end of the fifth month of the Ethiopian year, the 2nd bench of the Supreme Court has never been in session to date. The only remaining judge receives appellants in his office, explains the situation and gives repeated adjournments.

4. Violation Of The Right To A Speedy Trial

4.1. Article 9(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that everyone detained on suspicion of committing an offence shall be brought before a judge promptly and shall be tried without unnecessary delay. It also states that pending his/her trial, he/she shall be released on bail from detention. A person could not be presumed guilty and punished prior to conviction by a competent court. Keeping a person in prison for a long time before a conviction is tantamount to punishing an innocent person.
4.2. The Derg used to keep in detention its citizens for a long time. There were persons who were detained without trial from 6 months up to 12 years. The present government has also detained many of its citizens without trial. Since the overthrow of the Derg regime by the EPRDF in May 1990, several thousand individuals have been languishing in prison without trial.
4.3. What is very saddening is the courts' reluctance to ensure the right to a speedy trial. In particular those persons who have been detained on suspicion of participating in the red terror are kept in detention indefinitely until such time that the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor charges and brings them to trial. This is so because the permission that the Wereda courts gave to the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor to detain such individuals indefinitely has also been endorsed by the higher courts. It will be appropriate to cite here the decision of the Central Supreme Court given on 22 December 1993 on file No. f/S/c/M/q.8/85 regarding Colonel Debela Dinssa . In that case the Supreme Court had decided that Article 7(2) of the Special Public Prosecutor Establishment Proclamation No. 22/92 had provided that the 15 days limitation for filing a charge provided in Art. 109 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code will not apply to cases which fall within the jurisdiction of the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor . A person who will be charged by the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor cannot complain and argue that he should be released from detention unless he is charged within fifteen days. This decision has become applicable for all cases which come under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor. Article 7(2) of Proclamation No. 22/92 which states that " The provisions concerning limitation of action and the time limit concerning the submission of charges, evidence, and pleading to charges shall not be applicable to proceedings instituted by the Office" is inconsistent with Article 1 of the Transitional Period Charter and Articles 9(3) and 14(3) (c) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has been ratified by the Transitional Government. Article 14 (3) (c) provides that "everyone shall be entitled to be tried without undue delay." Article 9(3) also provides that "anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release." Since the Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are of a higher rank than Proclamation No. 22/92, the provisions which provide for the right to a speedy trial should have been applied. Since the provision of Article 7(2), which has been accepted by the Court, does not state the time within which the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor should file its charge, it allows an indefinite detention of persons and contradicts the provisions of the above International Covenant. Hence, as it violates human rights, it should have been rejected by the Court. However, what is surprising is that the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor is given permission to detain persons indefinitely not only to complete the investigation, but also after the completion of the investigation. If the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor does not want to charge the prisoners, it can ignore them to languish in prison for life.
4.4. Moreover, when those prisoners whose cases come under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor apply for bail, the courts do not accept their application. For instance, in Cr. file no. 299/87 the Zone Court of Region 14 had rejected Ato Negussie Kedane's appeal for bail on April 17, 1994 stating that, since the Appellant was arrested and detained on suspicion of participating in the red terror and since, pursuant to the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor Establishment Proclamation No. 22/92, this offence falls within the jurisdiction of the Central High Court, the Zone Court has no jurisdiction to consider the request for bail. However, Article 64 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that an application for bail may be granted by any court. In this particular case it was the Wereda 13 Court, which is lower than the Zone Court, which ordered that Ato Negussie Kidane be detained until such time that the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor files a charge against him. When the Wereda 13 Court gave this order, it refused to consider the application for bail saying that it does not have jurisdiction to hear the bail application of those individuals who have been accused of involvement in the red terror. However, the Wereda 13 Court, which said that it does not have jurisdiction to consider the bail application, did not state from which law it got its jurisdiction to order the indefinite detention of persons accused of taking part in the red terror. The Office of the Special Public Prosecutor arrested and detained Ato Negussie alleging that he was the cause for the death of a certain Solomon Mekonnen who was killed by the Derg after he had been handed over to the members of the Derg's investigation bureau, allegedly by Ato Negussie Kidane. Although the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor informed the Zone Court by a letter written on March 9, 1994 (Ref. No. M127/6901/87/6/l{), that Ato Negussie has been charged, he has, however, been languishing at the Qaliti Prison without ever being formally charged and brought to trial.
4.5. Similarly, in Ato Alemu Tessema's bail appeal, Cr. Appeal File No. 24/87, the Central Supreme Court had decided by majority on 12 April 1992 that, "although Ato Alemu Tessema had not been accused of killing or causing the death of any person, a decision was passed to take revolutionary measure against certain individuals and to imprison others while he was working as chairman of the Agew Medir Awraja Revolutionary Action Co-ordinating Office. Although these persons have not been killed, since the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor has said that he will be charged with red terror, we could not accept his appeal for bail."
4.6. What we understand from these two cases is that, although it is clear from the arguments of the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor and the investigation file that these persons did not commit any offence, they are going to languish in prison indefinitely simply because the Office of the Special Public Prosecutor has said that these persons will be charged with involvement in the red terror. There are many persons who are languishing in prison under similar pretexts. This situation clearly demonstrates that there is a denial of justice.

5. Investigations Conducted Under Torture

The police very often commit illegal acts resulting in incalculable harm to individuals under their custody. This is either due to their ignorance of the law , or on orders they have received from their superiors contrary to the law, or even due to total and wilful disregard of the law. The following sample cases illustrate this point.

5. 1. Victim: Ametemariam Garefo, Teacher

5.1.1. Wro. Ametemariam Garefo, a teacher and a resident in the Southern Ethiopia Peoples National Administrative Region, Shakcho Zone, Masha town, was tortured by the police, for no justifiable cause of wrong doing. As a result, both her hands have become crippled and atrophied. The reason for this atrocious treatment by the police had to do with her husband, Ato Shachachew Sheno, (see 2.2 above) who was unlawfully dismissed from his duties as justice of the law earlier on. At the time his wife was subjected to torture by the police, Ato Shachachew had gone to Awassa to appeal against his illegal dismissal. The police demanded to know where her husband had gone, and she was severely beaten when she told them that she neither had any idea where he had gone nor the reasons for his absence from home. Her hands were tightly handcuffed during the beating thus causing severe damage and total loss of the use of her fingers. She was denied medical help for the injury she had received, and upon her release from police custody, she was also warned not to tell anyone about the torture she was subjected to. The police, in attempting to extract information from her concerning the exact whereabouts of her husband, were deeply worried that their barbaric treatment of people under their custody would be exposed and come to the knowledge of their superiors.
5.1.2. This woman did not commit any offence whatsoever. She was subjected to torture until she lost total consciousness simply because they were intent on concealing their atrocious deeds, despite the fact that her husband is legally entitled to appeal his case to higher authorities. What is amazing is that the alleged cause of this inhuman deed, Ato Adinew Ayino, is at present a member of the Legal Committee of the Council of Peoples Representatives of the FDRE.
5.1.3. This case amply demonstrates that the law is a tool for oppressing and torturing the ordinary citizen and does not have any application on authorities of the day. The case also provides a demonstration that the provision of Article 25 of the Constitution is banal and that some individuals are in fact above the law.

5. 2. Victim: Wrt. Shewaye Haile

5.2.1. W/t Shewaye Haile, a student in grade 9 and a resident in the Southern Ethiopia Peoples Region, Shakcho Zone, Masha town, was similarly tortured until both of her hands were completely crippled and she lost their use. The atrocious act was perpetrated by members of the Shakcho police and members of the military who tightly handcuffed her hands until they lost all traces of sensation and have become rigidly crippled. Because of the injury the victim has received she could not use her hands to hold a book or a pencil and has consequently been forced to discontinue her studies. She also needs the assistance of someone to carry out such basic functions as putting on her dress and feeding herself.
5.2.2. There was absolutely no cause for subjecting this young girl to such a beastly torture. The reason why she was made to endure such torture was that the police made use of force to ferret out information regarding the suspected contacts her father, teacher Haile Belachew, is alleged to have with bandits in the area. When she was finally released on 5000 Birr bail, she was warned not to tell anyone about the torture she endured under police custody nor to seek medical assistance.
5.2.3. Her father has been detained since November 14, 1995 in a prison located 35 kilo meters away from his home at a place called Getcha. Since the prison is too far away, it has become impossible to take provisions to him. Ato Haile supported 10 dependants on his salary as a teacher. However, since his imprisonment his salary has been stopped and as a result his family is presently faced with grave hardship.
5.2.4. These two are not the only victims of such untold sufferings. According to reports that have reached EHRCO, the number of people who were handcuffed in the same way and lost the use of their hands are many. Among these are found
1. Wro. Elfinesh Tumo - housewife
2. Wro. Shashitu Mekuria - housewife
3. Wro. Ayelech Tereda - tej (local drinks) trader
4. Wro. Tewabech Shebeno - tej (local drinks) trader
5. Wro. Fellekech Gudeta - housewife
6. Wro. Birke Shello - housewife
7. Wro. Assegedech Gebo - housewife
8. Ato Mesfin Megalo - tailor
9. Ato Adraro Angello - trader
10. Ato Denbel Toqo - farmer
11. Ato Ambaw Maderasho - unemployed
12. Ato Mellese Megalo - tailor
13. Ato Tesfaye Negash - public health officer

The Shakcho Zone police have been engaged in mercilessly torturing people under false pretexts and baseless suspicions to force them to make false confessions.
5.2.5. Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also provides under Article 14 (3) (g) that "no one shall be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt." Likewise Article 14 (2) of the same convention states that "Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law." Article 27 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code also provides that an accused person shall not be compelled to answer and shall be informed that he has the right not to answer and that any statement he may make may be used in evidence. Similarly, Article 31 of the same Code states that the investigating police officer may not offer or use or cause to be offered, made or use any inducement, threat, promise or any other improper method to any person examined by the police.
5.2.6. Moreover, Article 16 of the Constitution of the FDRE provides that all persons have the right to protection from bodily harm. And Article 18 (1) states that no person shall be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 28 (1) also provides that no organ of the State shall have power to pardon or give amnesty with regard to inhuman punishment, forcible disappearances, summary executions, and acts of genocide.
5.2.7. And, Article 417 of the 1956 Penal Code provides that "Any public servant charged with the arrest, custody, supervision, escort or interrogation of a person who is under suspicion, under arrest, summoned to appear before a court of justice, detained or interned, who, in the performance of his duties , treats the person concerned in an improper or brutal manner, or in a manner which is incompatible with human dignity or with the dignity of his office, especially by the use of blows, cruelty or physical or mental torture, be it to obtain a statement or a confession, or to any other similar end is punishable with fine or simple imprisonment, except where his act may justify the application of more severe punitive provisions." Moreover, Article 538 of the same Code states that whosoever intentionally wounds a person so as to endanger his life or permanently to jeopardise his physical or mental health or maims his body or one of his essential limbs or organs, or disables them, or gravely or conspicuously disfigures him, or in any other way inflicts upon another an injury or disease of serious nature, is punishable with rigorous imprisonment not exceeding ten years.
5.2.8. Furthermore, Article 13 (1) of the Constitution of the FDRE states that all legislative, executive and judicial organs of the State as well as the government shall have a responsibility and obligation to respect and enforce the provisions dealing with the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens.
5.2.9. However, the existence of all these legal provisions did not prevent the Shakcho Zone Police and members of the military from detaining persons without good cause and causing them permanent disabilities through torture. The government has not taken any action in accordance with the law against the perpetrators of such inhuman acts. Since those who are expected to uphold and enforce the law have become the number one violators, the citizens do not have a guarantee for their lives. The people are scared and frightened always thinking that they could be the next victims.

6. Conclusion

6.1. The corner stone of the administration of justice is the independence of the judiciary. If there is no independence of the judiciary, every petty government official will interfere in and be a hindrance to the administration of justice in accordance with the law. In such a situation citizens will be denied justice and forced into violence. If there is no independence of the judiciary, the judges will not be in a position to rely on the law and discharge their duties. If every petty official can reshuffle the judges anytime, or suspend them from the bench, or arrest them while they are on session and have other prisoners urinate on them, and finally dismiss and prevent them from lodging complaints to higher authorities, or torture the members of their families and cause permanent disability, how can they discharge their judicial function peacefully? How can they believe in the constitutional guarantee enshrined under Article 79 (3) which states that judges shall exercise their functions in full independence and shall be directed solely by the law? Are they not observing daily that the law and the practice are completely different?
6.2. All government officials should be examples to others by discharging their functions in accordance with the law. If they themselves break the law, which is their own making, the citizens will not trust the law. If what they are told is completely different from what they see, the citizens will not have confidence in their government, the authorities and the law. However, the final resort of the citizens must be the law. In order for the citizens to protect and enforce their rights, the independence of the judiciary must be firmly established. It should not be for the purpose of having its opponents punished that the government should appoint judges. Judges should not be used as propaganda instruments and should not be expected to do only what the government likes. The primary functions of the judges should be to see to it that the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens are not violated and that the law is observed by all equally, including the government. The courts are there not to watch in silence when the law becomes an instrument of the powerful to inflict harms on the weak but to protect the basic rights and freedoms of the citizens. If courts and judges are to become the government's instrument of suppression, the lives, freedoms and property of the citizens will not be protected. 6.3. We have heard on the mass media the judges being insulted by His Excellency, Ato Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister, as corrupt and peddlers of justice. What we understand from this is that the Prime Minister has lost confidence in the administration of justice, which was earlier described by the Minister of Justice as "the golden era of justice," and the hate and contempt he had harboured for the judges whom his government had appointed. If the Prime Minister himself has severely criticised and condemned the system of the administration of justice, which was described by his own Minister of Justice as "the golden era of justice", there is no need to introduce other evidence to show that the administration of justice has completely collapsed.
6.4. The solution to the problem does not lie in insulting and condemning the judges in public. Rather it lies in the respect of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, in the appointment of matured and well qualified judges and in giving due respect to their offices.
6.5. Therefore, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council requests the government to appoint judges who possess the necessary qualification and experience, without regard to their political inclination and partisanship; to appoint presidents who are not members of any political organisations but are loyal to the law and justice; to ensure that the administration of justice is free from politics and interference by government officials, not only in words but also in deeds; and to enforce and implement the law written on paper.
6.6. EHRCO also urges all persons of good will, human rights and religious organisations, international organisations and governments to do whatever they can for the betterment of the administration of justice in Ethiopia.