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Ethiopia: Being Accused in Times of Reform, An Investigative Human Rights Report

Avatar: Bruck Negash
Bruck Negash, Juhar Sultan YesufJanuary 5, 2021
Ethiopia: Being Accused in Times of Reform, An Investigative Human Rights Report

As the long awaited Addis Ababa University graduates of 2020 commenced on 26 December 2020 students from different parts of the country celebrated their success at the country’s first university. Ecstatic by the achievement of these students, many families and friends of graduates will also remember this day as a special one, as it is. However, to one political science and international relations student and his family it was a reminder of injustice caused as a result of the gap in the justice system of the country. “It pains me not to see my son graduate. It is very sad he wasn’t among the students on the date of the graduation along with his classmates...” Abdissa Dhuguma - father of Obsa Abdissa - as he recounted the emotions flying about within his family on that day. 

Arrested in the aftermath of the assasination of popstar and public figure Hachalu Hundessa, Obsa Abdissa was a third year Political Science and International Relations student at the notable Addis Ababa University. According to his father, since his detention a few days after the death of the popstar, Obsa’s rights as an accused have been violated at so many levels. Recounting the conditions of his arrest, trial and current situation (still under detention), Abdissa told Addis Zeybe that his bail and visitation rights are amongst the major constitutionally guaranteed human rights violated. Cementing this narrative, his lawyer Kedir Bullo also told Addis Zeybe that Obsa’s case was one of the demonstrations that the justice system is not right sensitive in Ethiopia. 

Despite recognizable reform efforts in the country, the Abiy Ahmed (PHD) administration has an enormous way to go in terms of guaranteeing the rights of the accused are recognized in Ethiopia. In its conversation with legal practitioners, families of victims, academicians and human rights advocates, Addis Zeybe has learnt that even though there are demonstrable efforts by the new administration in terms of guaranteeing the rights of the accused, emerging trends such as the concerning tendency for regional security forces in the Oromia region not respecting the decision of courts show there is a long way for the administration to go. In some areas, there are accounts of judges being intimidated into making right violating decisions. 

The following investigative report - prepared by Addis Zeybe Research and Development Department seeks to understand such trends related to the human rights of the accused, the implications of the recent political developments of the country, and the legal contents of the rights of the accused. The report attached in the link below is produced in line with the organizational goals of Addis Zeybe towards ensuring it plays to the role of the media in advancing the cause of justice and the observance of human rights in Ethiopia. Below is the link to the PDF of the report.  

Download Report

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A PIECE BYBruck Negash

Bruck Negash is a human rights researcher currently working at Addis Zeybe as a Research Editor.

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A PIECE BYJuhar Sultan Yesuf

Investigative Reporter | Addis Zeybe LLM in Human Rights Candidate | Addis Ababa University