20 Mar. 2015
The African Union’s top human rights watchdog, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, instructed Ethiopia to cease violations of the due process rights of Muslim leaders and to investigate previous violations.
The African Commission wrote a letter to Prime Minister Hailemarian Desalegn in connection with the criminal proceedings against the Muslim Committee of Arbitration (also known as Abubaker Ahmed and 28 Others) bringing to his attention the Commission’s decision to order Ethiopia to take provisional measures. Following repeated acts of torture, both in pretrial detention and during the trial and flagrant violations of due process rights, lawyers for Abubaker Ahmed and 28 other defendants petitioned the Commission to intervene and prevent irreparable harm to the defendants. In the letter the Commission recognizes defendants as victims of rights violations. On the basis of the petition and evidence provided to it, the Commission asked Prime Minister Hailemarian Desalegn to immediately:
- Investigate allegations of torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishments in relation to the 29 defendants and specifically in relation to Badru Husain Nur-Husain, and Ahmed Mustefa Habib who continued to be subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;
- Guarantee attorney-client confidentiality privilege by allowing the victims have unhindered and unmonitored communication with their attorneys; and
- Guarantee victims right to presumption of innocence until proven guilty and prevent his government, its officials, and state media from making statements that slander and defame the victims.
The Letter instructs the Prime Minister to report back to the Commission on the implementation of the Provisional Measures within fifteen days. It is not clear whether the government has replied to the Commission’s letter or if it intends to do so.
Counsel for Abubaker Ahmed Mohamed and 28 Others