Verdict Delayed: Ethiopian activists now detained for over two years –

October 9th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

The Verdict for Anti-poverty activists, Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie has been delayed. (more…)

The Verdict for Anti-poverty activists, Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie has been delayed.

poverty.jpg MEDIA ADVISORY
Verdict delayed

Anti-poverty activists Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie today heard that they must wait in prison for at least another six weeks, as judges in Ethiopia’s Federal High Court again delayed the verdict until 22 November 2007, bringing their total detention to over two years. Both activists are recognised by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience.

“The courts must stop delaying. It is unacceptable to force these courageous civil society leaders to spend any longer in prison. Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Kumi Naidoo, CIVICUS Secretary General and co-chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP).

Daniel and Netsanet were due to hear their verdict this morning, 9am local time in Addis Ababa, on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government, specifically, “outrage against the constitution and constitutional order.” Both coordinators of GCAP, they are the last two accused in the high profile Ethiopian treason trial that originally charged 131 politicians, journalists, organisations and civil society leaders.

“Both are dedicated GCAP campaigners. They spoke out against injustice in their country, so it’s a double tragedy they won’t be able to take part in GCAP’s global Stand Up and Speak Out day of action on 17 October. When we stand up next week, we will be speaking out in solidarity with them too,” said Naidoo.

In delaying the verdict, the judges explained that the Prosecution, and subsequently the Defence, had submitted their final comments to the court later than expected, not allowing the judges adequate time to make a decision.

Aside from their work with GCAP, Daniel is also head of the policy department at ActionAid International Ethiopia. Netsanet is also the founder of local human rights group Organisation for Social Justice in Ethiopia. Both Daniel and Netsanet assisted in monitoring the May 2005 election, peaceful and legitimate civil society work for which they now stand trial.

At the start of the trial in May 2006, 131 opposition politicians, journalists and civil society leaders stood accused of a range of charges from genocide to treason. They were among thousands who were detained following protests accusing the government of rigging the 15 May 2005 presidential elections. Many of the accused were acquitted during the course of the trial. Others were convicted but pardoned in July and August 2007 – all of whom had allegedly signed a confession, admitting use of “unconstitutional means to change the constitutionally established government functions” following the 2005 elections.

Although they were asked to sign a similar statement, Daniel and Netsanet declined. They argued that their activities in 2005 were entirely legal and did not serve to undermine, but rather to protect and promote Ethiopia’s constitutional order.


For more information or interviews, please contact:

Julie Middleton, CIVICUS Civil Society Watch at +27 82 4036040,

Micha Hollestelle, CIVICUS Media Manager at +27 76 6338525,

Ciara O’Sullivan, GCAP Media Coordinator at +34 679 594 809,

For more information on CIVICUS:

For more information on GCAP Stand Up and Speak Out on 17 October:

  1. | #1

    Selam Abugida,
    I am so glad that you have continued to voice your conceren over the unjust continued imprisonment of Daniel and Netsanet. They are our heroes and we should sound the alarm to humanrights watch as we did for kinijit leaders and we have to do it loud. Since you have the capability reaching a lot of people please do continue to update us on the progress and what we can do collectively.

  2. | #2

    I don’t think enough is being done to secure the release of these two innocent citizens. The court handling the case is a proven TPLF/EPRDF court and the judges are known for their partiality and support of the government. It is a lie that the defendants are responsible for the delay in their own case. We know that they want to walk out of the TPLF/EPRDF prison and get back their freedom. As lawyers, they clearly understand the stake involved in any delay. So, any blame lies on them is a suspect. But, I see a motive for the prosecution to withheld documents that may involve delay. They are not ready to face acquittals. In fact, it is a life and death thing for them. Under the circumstances, delays are the least they can do.

    Overall, justice is already derailed in this case. Further delays will simply confirm it.

  3. Bekele
    | #3

    Daniel and Netsanet were never politicians, rather pure human rights activists who discharged their responsibilities in accordance with the constitution. Yet, they have been languishing behind bars due to Weyane’s injustice system simply because they fought for social justice. The phony court delays the verdicts for it is still waiting for instructions from its Weyane masters.

  4. Shumet Menywab
    | #4

    I can only admire what Daniel and Netsanet are going through the challenge of truth vs false in the EPRDF’s saga of constitutional order. What makes me sad is while there never been lack of challenge against the EPRDF since it has possessed power, most galant fighter against the Meles regime fall off their own lack of cooperation among the same people in the same cause of justice. Take for example what is going on in Kinijit. Whay in the world we are so appreciated of some body’s contribution on the fight against tyrany for longer periods of time but easily decide to tarnish the same person’s personality without taking a due respect to fall with another conflict within?

    What is wrong with us to call Dr. Taye Woldesemayat a TPLF agent after all he went through time of prison in the EPRDF cruel power against the Ethiopian people just because he was so decisive not to kneel to Meles’s policy and went on leading the Ethiopian teacher’s Association away from accepting the Meles’s anti unity policy?

    What is wrong with us to so quickly come to call Engineer Hailu Showel to resign from Kinijit’s chairmanship before he comes out of hospital and even a conflict resolution effort has been taken?

    Why are we so quickly heading to a fracture of pieces instead of strengthening ourselves and try for more unity from others?

    Today’s Danieal and Netsanet fight for truth was yesterday’s Dr. Taye’s fight too but why in the world is some body’s personal dignity fall so low as simple as this?

    I think we have a big problem on how to handle our own behaviors and resolve minor conflicts first before we can call ourselves a champion of freedom and democracy for other Ethiopians!!

  5. Tayitu
    | #5

    These two gays are the true heroes! They are resolute unlike the so called CUD leaders who signed an appalling pardon letter!

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