Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July 2014, 17:47 GMT

UA 280/07 Forcible return/fear of torture or ill treatment/incommunicado detention/prisoner of conscience

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 31 October 2007
Citation / Document Symbol AFR 25/024/2007
Cite as Amnesty International, UA 280/07 Forcible return/fear of torture or ill treatment/incommunicado detention/prisoner of conscience, 31 October 2007, AFR 25/024/2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/50a4e3552.html [accessed 1 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

On 27 September, the Sudanese authorities forcibly returned 15 recognized refugees to Ethiopia, handing them over at the Ethiopia-Sudan border. Their whereabouts are now unknown and Amnesty International believes they are at risk of enforced disappearance, arbitrary and incommunicado detention, torture and unfair trials.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced on 11 October that the 15 had been part of a group of more than 30 Ethiopian refugees arrested in early July 2007 by Sudanese intelligence officers in Khartoum and Blue Nile state.

Among the 15 was Atanaw Wasie, who has chronic asthma for which he needs medical treatment.

He was a leader of the Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU) political party, which opposed the Dergue government that was overthrown in 1991, but is no longer active. He was arrested on 7July 2007 in the eastern town of Gedaref and held incommunicado.

Others who were returned and detained are reported to be alleged members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which is fighting the Ethiopian security forces in the Oromia Region. Several thousand members of the Oromo ethnic group have been arbitrarily detained and tortured in Ethiopia in recent years.

The Ethiopian foreign minister visited Sudan in June 2007. Shortly afterwards, in early July, hundreds of Ethiopian and Eritrean nationals living in Sudan were arrested. Many were asylum-seekers or recognized refugees. Many of the detainees had been living in Sudan as refugees since the late 1970s; others were opponents of the Ethiopian government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who have been arriving in Sudan since the 1990s to seek asylum

Ethiopia is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, both of which oblige the Ethiopian authorities not to torture individuals, detain them arbitrarily or detain them incommunicado. Both also oblige the authorities to allow detainees access to lawyers, relatives and all necessary medical treatment.

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