August 19, 2013

Oromo: 21 Sentenced On Collaboration Charges

Twenty one Oromo nationals have been sentenced in Ethiopia for terms ranging from two to eight years on charges of collaborating against the state and attempted terrorism. 

Below is an article published by the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa:

The Federal High Court of Ethiopia sentenced 21 Oromo Nationals (most of whom are university students) to as much as 2-8 years in prison on 7th August, 2013. The report HRLHA received indicates that all of them have spent about three years pending trials on alleged charges of collaborating with the opposition organization of Oromo Liberation Front with the intention of committing terrorist crimes. According to information obtained by HRLHA through its correspondents, most of the defendants were very young Oromo students picked up at different times from different universities and colleges in the regional state of Oromia and other parts of the country.

The HRLHA has learnt that most of the 21 Oromo defendants did not even have acquaintance of each other, let alone collectively committing terrorist crimes, as they were brought together from different universities in the country and met each other in the jail. According to some legal experts, the fact that the charges were mere fabrications aimed at imposing punishments intended for political intimidations has made it difficult for the accused to defend themselves. However, by blatantly acting as a political tool of the ruling party, the court handed down the guilty verdict on the Oromo nationals without taking into consideration some evidences that the defendants attempted to present to defend themselves against the charges. There are more concerns that particularly five of the twenty one defendants who were charged with additional and separate article (criminal code, article 241, “Attack on the Political or Territorial Integrity of the State”, http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/70993/75092/F1429731028/ETH70993.pdf) from the sixteen others might face very harsh punishments.

Although this sentence did not come as a surprise, as it is not the first of its kind, it has enormously added to the accumulation of partiality, injustice and unfairness of the justice system, raising further concerns among the human rights groups, and defenders of justice and equality including the HRLHA.

The twenty one alleged convicts are:

Dachassa Wirtu Mosisa Ebissa Ratessa Getu Saketa Roro Diribsa Damte Jote Adamu Shiferra Sena Merera Silashi Sori Abdisa Gudeta Miressa H/Yesus Abdi Dereje Deme Zerhun Alemayehu Regassa Shafi Said Dagim Bekel Lami Jirata Birhanu Imiru Alemu Teshome Jirata Shashe Said Getachew Abera Dereje Getu Jirenya Dessaleg n Lemi Wegga Alemu Teshome