January 12, 1996

Ref. No. EHRCO/SUR/1/1996

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads:

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
Article 9(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia states that All international agreements ratified by Ethiopia are an integral part of the laws of Ethiopia. Article 9(2) of the Constitution states: All citizens, government bodies, political parties and other associations and their officials are bound by the constitution and have the duty to ensure its observance. Article 25 of the Constitution further states: All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. The law shall guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection without discrimination...
In spite of these clear and other constitutional provisions, action that will seriously damage the freedom of the judiciary has been committed against a judge in the High Court in the Southern Peoples' Region, in the Shakacho Zone. Ato Shacachew Sheno, a High Court Judge and Vice President of the Court, issued an arrest warrant in accordance with the law (Criminal Procedure Code Art. 53) and the request of the police for the apprehension of Ato Adinew Ayno, in charge of the Economic Section of Shakacho Zone and presently representative of the Shakacho Zone in the House of Representatives, and seven other persons for alleged homicide. The arrest warrant issued to the police was in accordance with the law and was written on June 4, 1994 (ref. no. 50/87). Because Ato Shachachew Sheno fulfilled his function as a judge, he was suspended from the bench by a letter, ref. no. F 12/6024/87 on 1 August 1995 written and signed by Ato Adinew Ayno who was then in charge of the economic section of Shakacho Zone and presently a member of the House of Representatives. Ato Adinew Ayno was clearly acting beyond his legal authority and transgressing Article 79 of the Constitution which establishes the independence of the judiciary.
Ato Shachachew Sheno has been seeking justice at all levels, from the Regional Administration in Awasa to the House of Representatives in Addis Ababa. So far he has not been able to get any support from anywhere. In fact while he was seeking justice in Awasa and Addis Ababa, an attempt was made to stop him by detaining and torturing his wife, Weizero Amete-Mariam Garefo, a teacher in Masha town. The authorities in Shakacho ordered her detention and she was tortured by clamping her two hands in screwable handcuffs made of steel rods. As a result her two hands have been severely incapacitated. Finally, the authorities in Shakacho have zeroed in on Ato Shachachew in Addis Ababa and there are good reasons to believe they are attempting to abduct him and take him back to Shakacho where they can do anything.
Only because Ato Shachachew was doing his duty as a judge, he was suspended from his job by the very persons who are accused of criminal offence; he fails to get support from the Regional Administration and the House of Representatives; his wife is tortured and her two hands incapacitated; and now he cannot find security even in Addis Ababa where the very persons who are accused of criminal offence are attempting to turn him into a criminal. Ato Shachachew and his wife have seven young children. The Ethiopian Human Rights Council appeals to the government authorities to halt the harassment of Ato Shachachew and his family and to serve justice.
All persons of goodwill, human rights organisations, governments and international organisations, political and religious institutions are urged to do whatever they can to help and stop the repeated injustice committed against this father of seven children and his wife.