Jun 22, 2012

Ogaden: Convictions Raise Fresh Concerns

Ethiopia’s use of anti-terrorism legislation has been thrown once again into the spotlight as a UN guard is convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Below is an article published by the BBC:

A court in Ethiopia has sentenced a United Nations guard to seven years in prison for communicating with what authorities say is a terrorist group.

Abdurahman Sheikh Hassan, who is Ethiopian, was earlier found guilty of participating in the banned Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

Hassan had been involved in negotiating the release of two UN workers kidnapped by the group.

While doing so, he passed information to terrorists, the judge said.

"Under the guise of his job, he has been passing information to a terrorist organisation with the aim to help them," Judge Mulugeta Kidane told the court before delivering his verdict.

The judge said Hassan, the UN's head of security in the Ogaden, or Somali, region, had failed to prove he did not have links to the ONLF.

He also said Hassan was guilty of collaborating with a man called Sherif Badio, who was sentenced in absentia to life in prison.

Badio was said to be a senior member of the ONLF, which has been fighting for the independence of the Ogaden region, which borders Somalia, since 1984.

Human rights groups have criticised Ethiopia's anti-terrorism legislation for being too far-reaching.

In December [2011], two Swedish journalists were sentenced to 11 years in prison after an Ethiopian court found them guilty of supporting the ONLF.

Twenty-four people, including journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition member Andualem Arage, are currently on trial on charges of terrorism. They could all face the death penalty if found guilty.

Eskinder was arrested after publishing an article questioning arrests under the anti-terrorism legislation.