Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2003 - Ethiopia

Legal proceedings against EHRCO48

On 9th April 2001, Mr. Mesfin Wolde-Mariam, former chairman of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO), and Mr. Birhanu Nega, chairman of the Ethiopian Economic Association, took part in a meeting about human rights held at the University of Addis Ababa, where they called for academic freedom and respect of human rights. Following a students' demonstration on 17th and 18th April 2001 that the police had violently contained, Mr. Wolde-Mariam and Mr. Nega were arrested on 8th May. They were released on bail on 5th June 2001, after going on hunger strike to protest against their detention conditions.

Since that time, Mr. Wolde-Mariam and Mr. Nega have been charged on the basis of Articles 32-1 and 480 of the Criminal Code. They are accused of having encouraged students "to demand respect of their rights by rioting rather than through legal means". They are also accused, on the basis of Articles 32-1 and 250 of colluding with the Ethiopian Democratic League (EDL), an organisation considered as illegal at that time (but which in the meantime has been registered) because it allegedly sought to "create a clandestine party in order to change the constitution by illegal means".

The hearing has been postponed over and again since June 2001. The next session is scheduled for 9th February 2004.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

48. See Annual Report 2002.


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