Category Archives: Press Release
Open Hearings to Family, Independent Monitors, Media
(Nairobi) – The prosecution of 29 Muslim protest leaders and others charged under Ethiopia’s deeply flawed anti-terrorism law raises serious fair trial concerns. The trial is scheduled to resume in Addis Ababa on April 2, 2013, after a 40-day postponement.
The case has already had major due process problems. Some defendants have alleged ill-treatment in pre-trial detention. The government has provided defendants limited access to legal counsel and has taken actions that undermined their presumption of innocence. Since January 22 the High Court has closed the hearings to the public, including the media, diplomats, and family members of defendants.
“There seems to be no limit to the Ethiopian government’s use of its anti-terrorism law and unfair trials to stop peaceful dissent,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “The government’s treatment of these Muslim leaders bears the hallmarks of a politically motivated prosecution.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is deeply concerned about the increasing deterioration of religious freedoms for Muslims in Ethiopia. Since July 2011, the Ethiopian government has sought to force a change in the sect of Islam practiced nationwide and has punished clergy and laity who have resisted. Muslims throughout Ethiopia have been arrested during peaceful protests: On October 29, the Ethiopia government charged 29 protestors with terrorism and attempting to establish an Islamic state.
Ethiopia: Government continues to target peaceful Muslim protest movement
The Ethiopian authorities are committing human rights violations in response to the ongoing Muslim protest movement in the country. Large numbers of protestors have been arrested, many of whom remain in detention. There are also numerous reports of police using excessive force against peaceful demonstrators. Key figures within the movement have been charged with terrorism offences. Most of those arrested and charged appear to have been targeted solely because of their participation in a peaceful protest movement.