Following the overthrow of the former Government of Ethiopia (commonly referred to as the Dergue regime) by the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), some officials of the Dergue Government surrendered to the EPRDF in Addis Ababa on 28 May 1991.
More than a year after they surrendered and were detained, a Proclamation labeling the former Dergue Officials as ‘fascistic’ was passed by the EPRDF Government and further accusing them of committing “heinous and horrendous criminal acts” and impoverishing the economy of Ethiopia by plundering confiscating, destroying and misappropriating public property. Thus the Dergue Officials were condemned in the Proclamation even before they were formally charged.
They were also kept in pre-trial detention for more than three years before they were charged. The proceedings against the Dergue Officials dragged on for more than fifteen years after their arrest and detention. They were denied habeas corpus (right to be heard) throughout the trial at the national level.
Alleged violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Article 1 – Obligations of Member States
Article 2- Right to Freedom of Expression from Discrimination
Article 3 – Right to Equality before the Law and Equal Protection of the law
Article 5 – Prohibition of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment
Article 6 – Right to Personal Liberty and Protection from Arbitrary Arrest
Article 7 – Right to Fair Trial
Article 25 – Duty to Promote Human Rights
Article 26 – Duty to Guarantee Independence of Courts
This communication was filed before the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Haregewoin Gabre-Selasie the wife of one of the victims is the complainant and IHRDA is co-complainant.
Status of the Communication
On 16 August 2012, the ACmHPR in a letter referenced ACHPR/COMM/301/05/ETH/0.2/706/2012 informed the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) about the significant improvement on communication 301/2005.
According to the letter, the communication was decided on merits during the 12th Extra-ordinary Session of the ACmHPR (the Commission) which took place in Algiers, the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Algeria, from 29 July to 4 August 2012.
In 2013, after the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments approved of the publication of the decision, the ACmHPR informed IHRDA that the decision was decided in its favor and Ethiopia was found in violation of Articles 1, 2 and 7 of ACHPR. ACmHPR recommended that Ethiopia should provide adequate compensation for the victims of the violations and IHRDA is doing its best to ensure that all the recommendations are implementation.