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Ethiopia - Human Rights Committee (List of Issues) - Death Penalty - August 2020

Date: August 17, 2020
Country: Ethiopia
Type: Intl Mechanism Submission
Issues: Death Penalty, Due Process and Fair Trial, International Advocacy, Torture
Mechanism: UN Human Rights Committee
Report Type: List of Issues
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Ethiopia’s Compliance with The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Suggested List of Issues Relating to the Death Penalty, 130th Session of the Human Rights Committee (12 October - 6 November 2020)

Partner: The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

The Advocates for Human Rights, together with The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, submitted a Suggested List of Issues on the death penalty in Ethiopia for the 130th session of the Human Rights Committee.

Ethiopia has failed to uphold its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and has not acted to limit the application of the death penalty to?the “most serious” crimes. The Government of Ethiopia retains the death penalty for non-violent crimes, including, inter alia, terrorism “causing serious to historical or cultural heritages” and acting as an accessory to an offense that causes severe bodily injury. The State Party has not yet ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aimed at the abolition of the death penalty.

Violations of the rights to due process and a fair trial threaten the right to life. The State subjects people suspected of crimes and convicted of crimes to torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Reports of the use of torture during interrogation and extended pre-trial detention remain widespread, especially for persons accused of terrorism-related offenses. Multiple civil society organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have reported arbitrary arrest, arbitrary detention, torture, and other ill-treatment, as well as the absence of effective accountability mechanisms. Amnesty International also noted that hundreds of political opposition members have faced unfair trials in terrorism-related prosecutions.

The authors of the report suggest the following questions for the Government of Ethiopia:

  • What steps have Ethiopian authorities taken to reduce the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty and to limit the availability of the death penalty to the “most serious” crimes in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?
  • Under the new Prevention and Suppression of Terrorism Crimes Proclamation No. 1176/2020, what offenses are eligible for the death penalty and in what circumstances?
  • How many people are currently under sentence of death? What are the crimes for which they were convicted? How long have they been imprisoned on death row?
  • What procedures exist when a defendant in a criminal proceeding alleges having been tortured or otherwise ill-treated?
  • What measures are taken to hold persons who commit acts of torture accountable and to compensate victims of torture?
  • What steps has the State taken to ensure that no coerced or forced confession is accepted as evidence in court, except against a person accused of torture or other ill-treatment as evidence that the “confession” or other statement was made?
  • How does the State ensure and protect the full independence and impartiality of the judiciary and guarantee that it is free to operate without pressure and interference from the executive?