THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN ETHIOPIA
11th REPORT December 10,1996

1. INTRODUCTION

The 10th regular Report of EHRCO was issued last September. This 11th Report has come out three months later. The Report covers human rights violations such as extra-judicial killing, torture, unlawful detention, dismissal from jobs, confiscation of property as well as violation of the right to organize which were reported to EHRCO between September 11 to December 9, 1996 and verified by the Office.

2. EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLING

At 6:00 P.M. on February 3,1996 Solomon Awropa Haile was chatting with his school mates, Ephrem Tesfaye and Abebaw Yismaw, in his vicinity (Woreda 14, Kebele 12). During this time, a couple of policemen suddenly came to where the students were standing and ordered them not to move. While the students obeyed the order one of the policemen fired a shot. This frightened the students who ran to save their lives to the nearby Woreda 2, Kebele 13 . At a place called Mereba Dagget, Solomon Awropa was shot on his right buttock while Ephrem Tesfaye was shot on his right hand. Solomon was immediately taken to the Black Lion Hospital, where he died on February 6,1996. The 17 year old Solomon was an eighth grade student at Menelik II Junior Secondary School. Neither he nor his friends had committed any offense to provoke the armed attack by the policemen. The policeman who killed Solomon has not yet been charged and is still working at Woreda 14 Police Station. His killing of the student constitutes a violation of Article 14 of the FDRE Constitution, Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provide that Every human being has the inherent right to life and that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

3. TORTURE

3.1 Ato Demisse Deseno Melo is a farmer in Getcha-Echi PA, Andaracha Woreda, Kaficho-Shakacho Zone. At 12:00 AM. on November 15, 1995, he was detained by a policeman from the Shakacho Zone Police Department. His hands were then tightly handcuffed and he was beaten and tortured for five consecutive days by three policemen from the Department in order to force him "to expose where money, weapons and documents belonging to rebels were hidden". The torture he has been subjected to has damaged his urinary system and made it impossible for him to control his urine. After being detained for nearly eight months at the Masha Police Station and Prison, Ato Demisse was released on bail on July 26, 1996. He is 35 years old and a father of seven children.

3.2 Ato Abate Aleqa Yeshanew is a 30 year old farmer living in Debre Marqos Awraja, Abewar Woreda, Zinqir Abo PA. He is married and a father of four children. At 7:00 P.M. on November 22,1995, an armed security man from the PA told him that he was wanted and took him away from his home. The man then handed him over to a policeman and two members of the Defense Force who detained Ato Abate at the store of Genetwa Service Cooperative.

The same night at 2:00 P.M., the jailers returned to the store from where they fetched Ato Abate and another prisoner by the name of Kefyalew Taggele and marched them to a precipice called Terrero. They tied their hands to their backs with electric wire and made them lie face down at the edge of the precipice. Then they whipped them to force them to confess where they had hidden their weapons. Ato Abate was detained at the store until December 17, 1996 and then released.

These acts of torture were carried out in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 5), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 7), and the FDRE Constitution (Article 18/1), which provide that "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

4. UNLAWFUL DETENTION

Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and also Article 17(2) of the Constitution of the FDRE provide that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No person shall be detained without trial or conviction. However, in violation of these legal provisions citizens have been languishing in prison and at different police stations.

4.1 Journalists Detained on Grounds of Violating the Press Law

4.1.1 Ato Taye Belachew, Editor of the Amharic weekly and monthly magazine Tobya, has been detained at the Central Investigation Bureau since Nov. 22/1996.
4.1.2 Ato Anteneh Merid, the Deputy Editor, has also been detained at the Central Investigation Bureau since Nov. 25/1996.
4.1.3 Ato Abinet Tamrat, Editor of the Amharic weekly Dagmawi, was detained at Addis Ababa Central Prison from June 22, 1995 to Nov. 24, 1996 and then acquitted.

4.2 Detained on Grounds of Feeding OLF Fighters

4.2.1 Abafitta Abaware and 4.2.2 Haji Nur Abaware have been detained at Jimma Zone Police Head Quarter since June 19, 1996 on allegation of feeding OLF fighters.

4.3 Arbitrarily Detained

The following Amhara farmers living in various peasant associations in East Shoa Zone, Arssi Negelle Woreda, were detained from September 15 - October 4,1996 on the pretext of search for weapons and then released. There were also two children among the detainees.

No. DETAINEE'S NAME DATE DETAINED DETENTION PLACE DATE RELEASED
4.3.1   Ato Aberra Tesfaye   Sept.15/ 1996 Arssi Negelle Woreda Police Station Oct. 4/1996
4.3.2     Ato T/ Yohannes Ashenaffi >> >> >>
4.3.3   Ato Worku Kassaye   >> >> >>
4.3.4   Ato Berhanu Haile   >> >> >>
4.3.5   Ato Getaneh Demisse   >> >> >>
4.3.6   Ato Wondafrash Sertse   >> >> >>
4.3.7   W/ro Zenebech Mamo   >> >> >>
4.3.8   Ato Taffese Demisse   >> >> >>
4.3.9   Ato Nega Getaneh   >> >> >>
4.3.10   Ato Negusse Tesfaye   >> Sogido Service Cooperative Oct. 3/1996
4.3.11   Ato Shewangizaw G/Tsadiq   >> >> >>
4.3.12   Geremu Deresse (11yrs old)   >> >> >>
4.3.13   Yitbarek Kidane (6 yrs old)   >> >> >>
4.3.14   Sihine Nigatu (juvenile)   >> >> >>
4.3.15   Sinde Mekuria (juvenile)   >> >> >>
4.3.16   Berhanu Belachew (juvenile)   >> >> >>
4.3.17   Zewge Belachew (juvenile)   >> >> >>
4.3.18   Shimelis Belachew (juvenile)   >> >> >>
4.3.19   Ato Mersha Taddese   >> >> >>
4.3.20   Ato Ketema Ashenafi   >> >> >>
4.3.21   W/ro Birqe Mekuria   >> >> >>
4.3.22   W/ro Beliyu Haile   >> >> >>
4.3.23   W/ro Meseret Shewangizaw   >> Store of Gorbi Melka Buta >>
4.3.24   Ato Attle Haile   >> >> >>
4.3.25   W/ro Nigatwa Eshete   >> >> >>
4.3.26   Ato Lema Muse   >> >> >>
4.3.27   Ato Nigatu Taffese   >> >> >>
4.3.28   Ato Yeshitila Woldeyes   >> >> >>
4.3.29   Ato Gebre Medhin Feqyibelu   >> >> >>
4.3.30   Ato Seifu Gebre Giorgis   >> >> >>
4.3.31   W/ro Kokebe Kassaye   >> Tulu Dima PA >>
4.3.32   W/ro Abebech Asrat   >> >> >>

4.3.33 W/ro Alemtsehay Beyene was detained for no reason at Woreda 10 Police Station (A.A.) from October 17-21,1996 and then released. The commander of the Police Station who detained her in violation of Article 416 of the Ethiopian Penall Code was not charged.

4.3.34 On August 8,1996, a kerosene stove at the home of Corporal Teshome Chindi in Keftegna 11, Kebele 10 (Harar) blew up and burnt to death his wife Private Heniya Ismael. Corporal Teshome also suffered severe burns at the time. His brother-in-law, who blamed him for his sister's death, took the law into his hands and detained the Corporal. The brother-in-law, who was the Commissioner of Harari Region's Police Force, also used his position to deny Corporal Teshome his right to free medical treatment at the Police Hospital. For this reason, he is currently receiving medical treatment at the Black Lion Hospital under police escort and with the help of his parents who had to produce a certificate testifying that he is too poor to pay for his hospital expenses. Not only this, while he was receiving medical treatment in Addis Ababa, the police Corporal was also dismissed from the Force as of September 1996 on the pretext of a "gimgema" (evaluation) which was instigated by the Police Commissioner of Harari Region.

4.3.35 Ato Abate Angore, a member of the Ethiopian Teachers Association's (ETA) Executive Committee, has been in detention at Arba Minch Woreda Police Station since October 9, 1996. The reason given for his detention was that he did not hand over the property of the Arba Minch Branch of ETA to the pro-government local union. However, Ato Abate was driven out of Arba Minch by the local officials about three years ago and that the said property and union office have been under the control of the same faction during this time.

4.3.36 Ato Taddese Alemu has been in detention since November 20, 1996 at the headquarters of the Regional Police Commission in Awassa. The reason given for his detention is that he has insulted the local officials in writing.

4.3.37 Ato Roba Deme is an elected member of the Council of Representatives from the Burji constituency. He was arbitrarily detained from September 8-18,1996 at a military camp within the compound of Hagere Mariam Secondary School.

4.3.38 Ato Deti Adugna has been in detention since November 27, 1996 at Kuyu Woreda Police Station in North Shoa (Oromiya Zone). The reason given for his detention is that his son has rebelled.

5. DISMISSAL FROM JOBS


The following persons have been illegally dismissed from their jobs.

NO.   VICTIM'S NAME EMPLOYER'S NAME
5.1   Ato Mulugeta Mekonnen   Engineering Design and Tools Enterprise  
5.2   Lieutenant Shentema Benti     Oromiya Police Commission
5.3   Lieutenant Tesfaye Bayu   >> >>  
5.4   Lieutenant Areba Adem   >> >>  
5.5   Lieutenant Zekarias Bekele   >> >>  
5.6   Captain Admasu W/Michael   Ethiopian Air Force  
5.7   Ato Tamrat Tchufamo   North Shoa Oromiya Education Bureau  


6. CONFISCATION OF PROPERTY

On October 12, 1993, W/ro Haimanot Tsega Igzi bought a second-hand 682 N3 truck from Italy (Chassis No. 035582, motor no.2090.92032339, plate no.3 A/A 26363) for her five grandchildren's benefit and sent it through their father, Captain Demisse Seifu. Actually, the person who was authorised to manage and supervise the vehicle was Ato Yazew Yimamu. While the vehicle was in Beqoji town (Arssi Zone) for work, two government soldiers made the driver to stop the vehicle and then forced him to park it at the town's administrative office. There, they told the Woreda officials that as Captain Demisse was wanted, the vehicle should be kept there until the man appeared. Although a court order for the release of the truck was given to the local officials on November 29, 1996, the order has not been implemented to date.

7. VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE FREELY

Article 20 of the Universal Declaration Human Rights provides that every person has the right to form an association. Article 22(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests." The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 8(1) also states, " the States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure: (a) the right of everyone to form trade unions and join the trade union of his choice ...." Ethiopia is a signatory of the Covenant.

The International Labor Organization's Rules no. 87 and 98 on the freedom of association, which have been ratified by Ethiopia, provide that any worker has the right to form trade unions and to join the trade union of his choice without any external interference or discrimination. According to these laws, it is not necessary to apply for and get permission in advance to form a trade union. The trade unions formed likewise have the full right and freedom to draft and endorse their constitution, organize their internal administration, freely elect their leaders and representatives, conduct their business, and formulate and implement their plan of action. These laws also prohibit State agencies from interfering in the internal affairs of trade unions and hindering their legal activities.

Article 31 of the FDRE Constitution provides that everyone has the right to form an association for any purpose he so desires. The Constitution also provides that the human rights provisions enshrined in it shall be interpreted in harmony with international human rights conventions ratified by Ethiopia.

However, this right to organize freely has been repeatedly violated. When the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions' (CETU) expressed its concern regarding the dangers posed to the job security of its members by the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), the government responded to it by declaring that "instead of trying to curry favors from it, they (the unions) should fight it (the government) if they find it to be anti-workers". The official media, too, has been waging propaganda against CETU. CETU's request to be allowed to make a meaningful participation in the decisions that affect workers has also been turned down. The Confederation's various organs were unable to discuss the matter and find solutions because its Supreme Council and General Congress had been prevented from holding meetings. The meeting called for October 31,1995, for instance, could not be held because the Confederation's head office was under siege by the police. On November 4, 1995, the Confederation's various offices were sealed by government orders. A court order instructing the removal of the seals and the opening of the offices was ignored by the authorities. In fact, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, took a step tantamount to banning CETU by canceling its certificate of registration.

CETU has challenged the Ministry's cancellation of its certificate by appealing to the court and the case is still pending. Despite this and ignoring the legal existence of CETU, however, a series of steps are being taken to form another CETU. Several trade union leaders who argued that CETU still exists and that, before the court makes a ruling, attempts to form another CETU is illegal have been unlawfully dismissed from their jobs. Many other workers who struggled for free trade unions have been intimidated, harassed and even laid off on the pretext of redundancy. Trade Union leaders and other workers who actively participated in union affairs have been forced to give up their union posts, suspended from their jobs, forced to retire contrary to the law, or laid off. There are also trade unionists who have been physically assaulted and forced into exile. Using such illegal methods, those leaders who stood for free trade unions have been removed from their posts and replaced by loyal cadres who are determined to put the trade unions under the firm control of the ruling party as in the days of the Derg regime.

At this point one could cite the case of the Commercial, Technical and Printing Federation. On October 19,1996, the Federation's 152 Council members representing the 47 member plant unions held a meeting. After discussing the work done so far and the Audit Committee's report, the meeting was adjourned for the next morning to discuss the remaining agendas. When the discussion on the next agendas commenced on October 20, about 30 factionalists began to stir trouble by demanding that the Federation's Executive Committee give up the podium and submit themselves to a gimgema (assessment) of their performance. When the other Council members rejected their unprocedural demand, the former began shouting and prevented the meeting from proceeding smoothly. In order to avoid the break out of violence, it was decided to adjourn the meeting. However, 30 of these factionalists remained behind and tried to proceed with the discussion on their own. At this time the Executive Committee of the Federation reported the matter to Woreda 15 Police Station and the latter evicted the factionalists from the meeting hall. On the evening of October 21, however, Ethiopian Radio and Television reported an incredible piece of news. The official media falsely claimed that at its meeting of October 19 - 21, the Federation of the Commercial, Technical and Printing Federation rejected the reports of the Executive Committee as well as Audit Committee, replaced these committees' members by newly elected ones and passed a resolution demanding that CETU be newly re-organized. Following this false report on the official media, Ato Tesfaye Sodano, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, wrote a letter on November 4, 1996 (Ref. 7.1/0/n6/1/6/ giving recognition to the newly "elected" leaders. In his letter, Ato Tesfaye Wrote:

In accordance with your letter of October 22, 1996 informing us of the election of new Executive and Audit Committees members in place of the old ones at the General Assembly held as of October 19,1996 and also requesting that identity cards be issued to the new leaders, i.e.,
1/ Ato Mekonnen Ambaye replacing Ato Hailu Urgesa as President
2/ At Zerihun Atnafu replacing Ato Ali Seid as Deputy President
3/ Ato Sisay Mekonnen replacing Ato Neguse Mitiku as General Secretary
4/ W/t Alemnesh Hussen replacing Ato Mulatu Gurmu as Treasurer
5/ Ato Biruk Ashenafi replacing Ato Mamo Basazin

and for the Audit Committee: 1/ Ato Kifle W/Michael replacing Ato Fikadu Gugsa as Chairman
2/ Ato Taddese G/Michael replacing Ato Demisse Oluma as Secretary
3/ Ato Teshome Wakjira replacing Ato Yeshitila G/Kristos as member,

we hereby inform you that our office has registered the newly elected Executive and Audit Committees members and also attached herewith their identity cards.

Having secured the government's support, the "new federation leaders", accompanied by two policemen, went to the head office of the Federation where they found Ato Mulatu Gurmu, the legitimate treasurer, working alone in his office. They assaulted him physically, took away from him the keys of his drawers and office, his personal notebook and money, and then evicted him by force from the office. They also broke into the other offices of the Federation and thus staged their coup. Surprisingly though, two of these "new federation leaders" do not belong to any member plant union and hence are not even members of the Federation.

Although Ato Mulatu Gurmu has reported the attack against him to Woreda 18 Police Station and Office of the Public Prosecutor, no legal action as yet been taken against the aggressors in accordance with the Law.

In another instance, the trade union of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia was prevented from carrying out its normal functions by the Labor and Social Affairs Bureau of Region 14 on the pretext that the term of office of the union executives has expired. As a result the executives have been unable to call a union meeting to hold an election. The Bank's management has also made the executives to take forced leaves.

Again, the Labor and Social Affairs Bureau of Addis Ababa Region, although fully aware that the terms of office of the union executives expired on March 7, 1997, barred the Ethiopian Insurance Corporation Trade Union from carrying out its functions in a letter dated June 13, 1996 (Ref. 62/mm/a3/14/5). On the basis of the Bureau's letter, the Corporation's management, too, wrote a letter dated June 25, 1996 (Ref.a/.m /2709/88) barring the union executives from carrying out their trade union duties. After getting the necessary permission, when the labor leaders called a meeting of union members to explain to them the problem at hand, the Labor and Social Affairs Bureau canceled the meeting through its letter of August 6, 1996 (Ref. 62/mm/a3/14/10). The union's application to the Region 14 Administration for permission to hold a meeting was also rejected through the Administration's letter of August 8, 1996 (Ref. k14//ssm/05/88). Repeated applications to hold a union meeting were rejected by the above offices. Its petition to the Regional Administration's President did not receive any response.

EHRCO, therefore, requests the Government to stop illegal killings, detentions, torture, confiscation of property and violations of the right to work and the right to organize freely. It also requests the Government to ensure the return of the offices of the Commercial, Technical, and Printing Federation to the legitimate leaders since the offices were taken over by force with the cooperation of the police and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Likewise, the Regional Labor Bureau's ban on the trade unions of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Insurance Corporation should be lifted, the attempts to replace CETU with another confederation before its legal dispute with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs is resolved should be stopped, and that all associations formed for legal purposes should be allowed to pursue their activities in accordance with their by-laws and without official interference in their internal affairs.

EHRCO also appeals to all governments, human rights organizations, international NGOs, religious organizations and individuals living within or outside Ethiopia and who support respect for the rule of law and human rights to use their influence to make the Ethiopian government to respect human rights.

Copies: Council of People's Representatives
P. O. Box 80001, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

His Excellency Dr. Negasso Gidada
FDRE President
P. O. Box 1031, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

His Excellency Ato Meles Zenawi
FDRE Prime Minister
P. O. Box 1031, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

His Excellency Ato Kemal Bedri
President of Supreme Court
P. O. Box 6166, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

His Excellency Ato Mahteme Solomon
Minister of Justice
P. O. Box 1370, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

His Excellency Ato Hassen Abdella
Minister of Labor and Social Affairs
P. O. Box 2056, Addis Ababa