EU called on Zenawi to release 38 opposition leaders who may face the death penalty – EU

June 21st, 2007 Print Print Email Email

Following up on previous resolutions on Ethiopia, MEPs take another look at the unstable situation that has persisted in that country since the 2005 elections. (more…)

Following up on previous resolutions on Ethiopia, MEPs take another look at the unstable situation that has persisted in that country since the 2005 elections. Opposition leaders who led protests at the outcome of the elections have been convicted in court and may now face the death penalty. While calling on the Ethiopian authorities to respect fundamental rights, MEPs also believe the EU institutions could be doing more and indeed that the EU bears some responsibility since it persuaded Ethiopians not to boycott the elections.

In the wake of the May 2005 elections, whose results are widely held to have been falsified by the government, opposition demonstrations were met with violence from the authorities, resulting in 193 civilian deaths and 763 injured, according to a Commission of Inquiry set up by the Ethiopian Parliament. Members of the Commission were later “forced to flee following pressure by the government to reverse the Commission’s findings”.

Ethiopia urged to release political prisoners and review court verdicts

Now, on 11 June 2007 an Ethiopian court has found 38 senior opposition figures guilty of charges “ranging from “˜outrage against the constitution’ to aggravated high treason”. Sentencing is expected next month and most of the accused could face the death penalty.

Among a range of demands on the Ethiopian authorities in their resolution, MEPs call on the government “to release immediately and unconditionally all political prisoners, including elected members of parliament, CUD leaders, human rights activists, journalists, teachers, students, trade union activists and ordinary citizens”.

The EP also “urges the Ethiopian judicial authorities to reconsider their verdict, and calls on the Ethiopian Government to repeal possible death and/or prison sentences”. In addition, it “calls for the establishment of an international independent Inquiry Commission”.

Greater involvement and pressure from the international community

MEPs strongly believe the international community should play a bigger role. They ask the EU, the African Union and the UN “to encourage and support an all-inclusive inter-Ethiopian dialogue, with the participation of political parties and civil society, in order to work out a lasting solution to the current political crisis”.

MEPs call on the UN “to appoint a “˜special rapporteur’ to conduct an investigation in Ethiopia into judicial independence and arbitrary detentions, the human rights situation, including minority rights, post-election violence and killings, and charges of treason and outrage against the constitutional order directed at opposition leaders, journalists and civil-society activists”.

In addition, the EU Commission and Council should “pursue a coherent post-electoral policy in Ethiopia” and “consider the application of targeted sanctions against senior government officials”. The EP points out that “development cooperation programmes under the Cotonou Agreement should depend on respect for human rights and good governance”. It hence calls on the Commission and Council to “take a coordinated stance” consistent with Article 96 of the agreement.

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