Annual Report: Ethiopia 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Ethiopia 2010

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  • In November and December, Addis Neger, a major publishing company, was threatened with closure and several of its reporters threatened with arrest, reportedly under the new Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. By the end of the year a number of journalists from the company had fled the country.

Media suppression

  • Ibrahim Mohamed Ali, editor of the Salafiyya newspaper, and AsratWedajo, editor of the former Seife Nebelbal newspaper, were each sentenced to one year in prison on charges linked to stories reporting human rights violations dating back to 2005. They were reportedly tried under an outdated press law which had since been superseded by a new media law passed in 2008.
  • The owners of several of the largest newspapers, which were closed during the government's 2005 media crackdown, were threatened in November with a summons to appear before the Ethiopian Supreme Court. They were asked to pay fines, imposed on them as part of their 2005 convictions, which reportedly had previously been waived.

Repression of dissent

The government of Ethiopia continued to suppress dissent in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia, and detained hundreds of people suspected of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Many were believed to have been held in incommunicado detention and many were detained without trial. Court proceedings were frequently and repeatedly delayed. Detainees were often held in poor conditions; some were reportedly ill-treated. Group arrests and detentions of Oromo leaders, activists and businesspeople continued sporadically throughout the year. Many of these arrests and detentions were reported to have been politically motivated.

  • Opposition political parties accused the government of arresting their members ahead of the scheduled 2010 elections; the majority of those named in lists of detainees were Oromo.
  • There were also reports of arrests, cases of rape and extrajudicial executions by government forces of suspected supporters of the ONLF in the Somali Region of Ethiopia. Although international fact-finding missions led to some alleviation of the humanitarian crisis in the region, Ethiopian authorities continued to place restrictions on humanitarian aid in some areas.

Death penalty

Death sentences were imposed but no executions were reported.

  • On 2 September, the Ethiopian Federal High Court sentenced six people to death and 97 others to prison terms on charges of genocide in relation to violence between residents of the Benishangul Gumuz and Oromia regions over a border dispute.
  • On 25 December, five men were sentenced to death, four in absentia, and 32 men and one woman to life imprisonment on charges related to an aborted coup attempt in April and May.

Amnesty International visit/reports

Amnesty International delegates visited Ethiopia in September.

Ethiopia: Arbitrary detention/torture or other ill-treatment: Birtukan Mideksa (9 January 2009)
Ethiopia: Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review (13 April 2009)
Ethiopia: Canadian citizen sentenced to life: Bashir Makhtal
(3 August 2009)
Ethiopia: Government passes repressive new legislation
Ethiopia: Government must reveal fate of political prisoners, (5 May 2009)
Ethiopia: New Anti-Terrorism Proclamation jeopardizes freedom of expression (7 July 2009)