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Special Report 46: Human Rights Violations Arising From Disrespect for the Rule of Law

“In a political system in which the rule of law is ensured no one will be above the law and all human rights will be respected. If and when these rights are violated, it is possible to find prompt legal solutions. But in a political system where the rule of law is not respected, there will not be accountability and the actions taken on the basis of the decisions of those in power are bound to be illegal and arbitrary. Under these circumstances, laws passed become not more than instruments for the fulfilment of the wishes of those authorities. As this is exactly what is happening in Ethiopia at present, a serious danger is hanging over the effort to build a democratic system, to ensure the rule of law, and to protect human rights. Leaving aside the violations against the rights of citizens and the rule of law of the past several years, looking at those violations committed following the April 2001 university students’ demands for the respect of their rights will be sufficient to show the seriousness of the danger posed.”

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45th Special Report: Human Rights Violations Following Students’ Demands for Their Rights

“It is to be recalled that in its 42nd special report entitled “An Appalling and Dangerous Violation of the Rights of Students” and dated 21 April 2001, EHRCO had stated that students of the Addis Ababa University were brutally and dangerously attacked despite the fact that they had peacefully presented their legitimate demands beginning from 10 April to the concerned authorities of the government and the University.

Both the University’s administration and the Minister of Education had then condemned the illegal actions of the police. While the Minister, Woizero Genet Zewde stated that “the entry into the University’s campus of the police without any permission was wrong”, the University’s deputy president, Dr. Engineer Hailu Ayele, on his part, stated in no uncertain words that “the entrance of the police force into the campus without the knowledge of the university and the violent actions it took against the students who were then discussing their demands was illegal (taken from Addis Zemen of 3 April 2001). However, because of the unwillingness of the concerned government authorities in subsequent days to give appropriate responses to the students’ demands, the problems became ever more compounded.”

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Special Report No. 44: Stop the Fabrication of Allegations Against EHRCO!

Respect the Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Prof. Mesfin Woldemariamand Dr. Berhanu Nega!

“Professor Mesfin Woldemariam and Dr. Berhanu Nega were arrested and detained by the Federal Police on 8 May 2001. Both human rights defenders were alleged to have incited Addis Ababa University students to riot at a panel discussion organized for them by the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) on 8 April 2001. The panel discussion was organized in response to an earlier written request submitted to EHRCO by the former Student Council of the University. On the basis of a court order, the Federal Police took a series of steps since the arrest of the two intellectuals. It searched the houses of the two human rights activists, searched the offices of EHRCO as well as Dr. Berhanu’s office at the research center of the Ethiopian Economists’ Association. In this search the investigating team took many more documents and material than were specified by the court order. The search was carried out on 11, 12 and 16 May. While no search was conducted on the 14th, 15th and 17th of May, the investigating team decided to seal off EHRCO’s offices, thereby preventing EHRCO’s officials and workers from carrying our/their regular duties until 17 May 2001. The actions taken by the Federal Police against EHRCO, Professor Mesfin Woldemariam and Dr. Berhanu Nega are summarized below.”

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49th Special Report: A Conflict That Resulted in Many Deaths in Tepi, Shekicho Zone

“Beginning from 1992, members of the Shekicho ethnic group who had organized themselves under the Shekicho Peoples’ Democratic Movement (SPDM) and become supporters of the ruling party have been administering Yeki Wereda. Objecting to this, the Sheko and Mezengir ethnic groups demanded that the Sheko and Mezengir pull out of the Shekicho Zone, and that Yeki Wereda be included in Gambella Administrative Region. In a referendum held in 1993, it was agreed that Shekicho Zone would remain in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Administrative Region (SNNP) and Yeki Wereda too would continue within Shekicho Zone.

Yeki Wereda’s 120,000 population is a mixture of Sheka, Mezengir, Menja, Amhara, Oromo, Kefa, Agew, Menit, Tigre, and Bench peoples. It is believed that most of these ethnic groups participated in the 1993 referendum when it was decided that the regional status of both Shekicho Zone and Yeki Wereda would remain unchanged. Members of the Sheko Mezengir ethnic groups who were dissatisfied with this decision raised the issue once more through their Sheko-Mezengir Peoples Democratic Unity Organisation (SMPDUO), which they established in 2001. However, all officials from the regional to the Wereda government told them that their demand was inappropriate.”

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41st Special Report: Inhuman and Cruel Violation of the Rights of Children

“The recent Ethio-Eritreen war, inter-ethnic conflicts in different corners of the country and the spread of HIV-AIDS have increased the number of the dislocated. There is no dispute as to the pathetic fact that most of the victims of these tragedies are children. Due to the reasons mentioned above, children who do not have parents or economically strong relatives to support them are forced to discontinue their education. The streets, churches, mosques, bus and taxi stations of cities in Ethiopia are crowded by a frighteningly increasing number of these defenseless citizens.

From the beginning, the government tried to solve this problem by rounding them up and taking them to and abandoning them in the woods outside cities. But, besides being inhuman, cruel and illegal, this action of the government could never resolve the problem. Children who are less than 10 years of age and without parents, parents who have lost their houses and properties due to different reasons, shoeshine boys, newspaper vendors and others who are forced to make the streets their homes have been victims of this government action. As of February 2001 the government is once more engaged in similar cruel and illegal actions against children and destitute adults in Addis Ababa.”

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42nd Special Report: An Appalling and Dangerous Violation of the Rights of Students

Addis Ababa University Student Protest

“On 11 April 2001, the students were peacefully awaiting responses to their demands when security police entered the University campus and systematically beat, as one would snakes, the heads of the students who had no arms other than pencils and exercise books. According to information collected by EHRCO, no less than forty students sustained both heavy and light bodily injuries as a result of these brutal attacks by the security police. Some government and University officials admitted, on television, their ignorance of the security force’s entry into the University campus, the atrocious actions taken by it against the students, and expressed their disapproval of both. Nevertheless, because the Minister of Education was unwilling to pursue her own public condemnation of the security police’s illegal actions, the situation deteriorated further.”

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