Friday, December 14, 2007

Three, including girl 17, may have been tortured, are held incommunicado

AI Index: AFR 25/030/2007
11 December 2007

UA 328/07
Torture / incommunicado detention

Mulatu Aberra (m), trader, aged 34

Najima Jamal Ismail (f), aged 17

Najima Jamal Ismail’s stepfather, a trader (name unconfirmed)
Mulata Aberra, a trader of Oromo ethnic origin, has been held incommunicado at a federal police detention centre in Harar city in eastern Ethiopia since his arrest on 29 November. Also arrested at the same time were Najima Jamal Ismail and her stepfather. Najima Jamal Ismail is being held in a women’s detention centre in Harar. Amnesty International has received reports that Mulatu Aberra and possibly the other two have been tortured. Mulatu Aberra and Najima Jamal Ismail were transferred to hospital in Harar on 10 December and were returned to prison on 11 December.

All three appeared together before a court in Harar on 6 December where police obtained permission to extend their detention for investigation into alleged involvement with the armed opposition group, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

Mulatu Aberra has been detained on two previous occasions and accused of being a supporter of the OLF. In 1996 he was arrested, and was detained incommunicado in Harar without charge or trial. His family was not informed of his whereabouts until 1998, when he was charged with killing a person on behalf of the OLF. He was tried and acquitted in 2000. He was frequently tortured during this period of detention and as a result he now suffers from a hearing impairment and both of his arms are partially paralysed. He was arrested for a second time in late 2006 in the nearby town of Dire Dawa and accused again of links with the OLF, but was released without charge after five months. During this period of detention Mulatu Aberra was again tortured, and was seriously injured.

Amnesty International in not aware of any case in Ethiopia where a judge has ordered an investigation into allegations of torture.

Thousands of members of the Oromo ethnic group have been detained, and many of them tortured, in recent years on suspicion of links with the OLF. The OLF has been fighting the Ethiopian government in eastern and western Oromia Region and other areas since 1992. Among detainees held on these grounds have been people who Amnesty International believed were prisoners of conscience who had not used or advocated violence.

Using your own words, please choose a few of the suggestions below to create a personal appeal and send it as quickly as possible:

- expressing concern at reports that Mulatu Aberra, and possibly also Najima Jamal Ismail and her stepfather, who were arrested with him on 29 November in Harar, have been tortured in incommunicado detention;

- calling on the authorities to allow all three detainees regular access to their families and legal representatives, and any medical treatment they may require;

- expressing concern that Najima Jamal Ismail is said to be under 18 years of age and calling for her to be treated as such under the juvenile justice system;

- calling for an immediate and independent inquiry into the allegations that the three have been tortured while in police custody and for the findings of the inquiry to be made public and for any police officer found responsible for torture to be brought to justice;

- pointing out that according to international fair trial standards, no statement made as a result of torture can be used as evidence in any court proceedings and judges are obliged to separately investigate or order an investigation into allegations of torture;

- calling on the authorities to release the three people if they are not to be charged with a recognizable criminal offence and given a prompt and fair trial.

Prime Minister:
His Excellency Meles Zenawi
Office of the Prime Minister
PO Box 1031Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: 011 2511 1155 2020
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Justice:
Mr Assefa Kesito
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Fax: 011 2511 1551 7775 or 011 2511 1552 0874
Salutation: Dear Minister

Federal Commissioner of Police:
Mr Workneh Gebeyehu
Federal Police Commission
Ministry of Federal Affairs
PO Box 5068
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Salutation: Dear Commissioner

The official Ethiopian Human Rights Commission:
Ambassador Dr Kassa Gebreheywot
Chief Commissioner, Ethiopian Human Rights CommissionPO Box 1165
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: 011 2511 1618 0041
Salutation: Dear Chief Commissioner

Ambassador to Canada:
His Excellency Getachew Hamussa HAILEMARIAM
Ambassador for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
151 Slater Street, Suite 210
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5H3
Fax: (613) 235-4638

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. _______________________________________

Greetings for Human Rights Day!
Join Amnesty’s worldwide event now in progress.
Marilyn McKim & Adriana Salazar
Urgent Action Network Coordinators
Amnesty International Canada (ES)
14 Dundonald Street, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1K2