55th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
28 April – 12 May, 2014, Luanda, Angola
Recalling Communication 301/05 Haregewoin Gebre-Sellaise; IHRDA (on behalf of former Dergue officials) v. Ethiopia: filed in November 2004 on behalf of former officials of the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia who were held in detention for more than a decade;
Recalling the decision of the African Commission adopted in its 50th Ordinary Session in October 2011 finding the Government of Ethiopia in violations of the provisiosn of the of Articles 1,2 ,7 (1) (b) and (d)) of the African Charter;
Recalling the African Commission´s recommendations that the Government of Ethiopia should:
• Pay adequate compensation to the victims for violation of their right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty by a competent court of tribunal and right to be tried within a reasonable time by an impartial court or tribunal as recognized under Article 7(1)(b) (d) of the African Charter;
• Report on the implementation of these recommendations within three months from the date of notification;
Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) calls for the implementation of the above recommendations by the Ethiopian government.
While commending the Government of Ethiopia for releasing the said officials from custody, we express our deep concern that the daylight is yet to be seen without the actual acknowledgment of wrongdoing by the Ethiopia and the payment of compensation. Some of the victims still bear the scars from being held in pre-trial detention for more than three years and being further held in custody for more than a decade.
Though the victims welcome the Commission’s decision, there remains a serious concern over the delay in acknowledgment of wrongdoing by Ethiopia and in paying adequate compensation to the victims of the said human rights violations as recommended by the Commission. It has been more than a year since the decision was made public but the Ethiopian government has not taken any steps to implement the Commission’s recommendations. IHRDA firmly believes that without the intervention of the African Commission, the victims might never receive compensation for their losses and the wrongs they suffered.
IHRDA therefore urges the Commission to follow up on the implementation of its decision in this communication. This would make the Commission’s recommendations real in the lives of persons who have suffered violations of their rights. By so doing, the Commission would be strengthening its protection mandate by ensuring that its decisions are complied with.
IHRDA calls upon the African Commission to take measures towards ensuring that the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia provide the victims with an effective remedy. Consequently we respectfully recommend the African Commission to prevail on the Ethiopian Government to:
Establish a commission or a mechanism for the assessment and payment of compensation; and
Report to the African Commission the measures taken to fully implement the said decision with in two months.
IHRDA and the vitims count on the African Commission for its consideration and appropriate action on this matter.
24th April 2014.
Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa.