The Ethiopian Orthodox Church said it is going to press charges against the Federal, Addis Ababa, and the Oromia Police Commissions in relation to the recent controversy in the church.
The church claimed that the law enforcement agencies failed to execute their responsibilities of defending abuses committed against the church during the recent dispute between the church and dissident clergies which the Holy Synod excommunicated.
The dispute arose in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church after the report of the ordination of 26 episcopates and the installation of a new Holy Synod by a collective of clergies. The act was revoked by the Church’s Patriarch His Holiness Abuna Mathias as “illegal” and had no recognition from the Holy Synod.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has set up a committee and sub-committee that will handle legal issues related to the issue.
The sub-committee tasked with court proceedings and charges chaired by Andualem Bewketu, a lawyer, issued a statement last night.
Andulaem said that the church requested the court to issue a strict order to the mentioned law enforcement bodies to discharge their obligations imposed by the Ethiopian constitution and other related laws.
The sub-committee announced parties that the church will sue in the case and prospect bodies to be charged in the near future.
“The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which has a legal recognition, is the plaintiff, while the three former Archbishops who led the "illegal ordination of episcopates", Aba Sawiros, Aba Eustatheos, and Aba Zena, as well as the 25 ordained episcopates, will be charged.”
The lawyer stated that the Federal Police Commission, Addis Ababa Police Commission, the Oromia Regional State, and the Oromia Regional Police Commission are respondents in the opened case and charges will be pressed against them afterward.
The church has submitted its complaints to the Federal High Court, Fundamental Rights, and Freedoms Bench. The committee enlisted the articles of the constitution the church claimed had been violated.
“Rights that should have been protected by the constitution were committed against the church, spiritual leaders, clergy who serve the church, and believers,” said Andualem.
Explaining the offenses that compelled the church to pursue justice in the court of law, Andualem mentioned the violations of “the right to life and physical safety, the right to freedom, the right to honor and reputation, the right to equality, and the right to freedom of religion”.
“Even though the constitution of Ethiopia stipulates that every citizen should be given equal legal guarantees, the government has shown partiality for the individuals who are said to have committed this illegal act by providing them patrols and security services.”
Moreover, the sub-committee blamed government-affiliated media outlets for not fulfilling their duty to cover different viewpoints which it said is a violation of fundamental rights.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church has also requested the court to give an order to the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority to caution the dissident clergy from giving public statements on any media outlet.
The committee stressed in its statement that the government has not fulfilled its duty to conserve the country's culture, history, and heritage.