Death Penalty Worldwide

Ethiopia

Last updated on May 14, 2014

General

Official Country Name

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (Ethiopia). [1]

Geographical Region

Africa (Eastern Africa). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Retentionist. [3]

Methods of Execution

Shooting.
The law reportedly mandates that members of the military are to be executed by firing squad. [4]

Comments.
The Criminal Code bars public hanging and any other inhuman methods of execution, but leaves the method of execution to be determined by the executive body responsible for administration of the federal or regional prison where the execution will be carried out. [5]

References

[1] BBC, Country Profiles: Ethiopia Profile, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13349399, May 21, 2013.
[2] U.N., Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm, Oct. 31, 2013.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008. Reuters, Ethiopia carries out rare execution, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL06550887, Aug. 6, 2007.
[4] Reuters, Ethiopia carries out rare execution, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL06550887, Aug. 6, 2007.
[5] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 117(3), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.

Country Details

Language(s)

The major languages are Amharic, Oromo, Tigrinya, and Somali. [1]

Population

86,500,000. [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

Approximately 123.

Information on the use of the death penalty is particularly difficult to obtain for Ethiopia. Amnesty notes that this results from a general lack of government transparency and legal restrictions on the work of human rights organizations. [3]

As best we can ascertain, there were “several dozen” prisoners remaining under sentence of death in 2007. [4] (Ethiopia reported that there were 81 death row prisoners “in 2006/07”. [5] ) In the following years, Ethiopia handed down sentences every year except for 2011 and 2012 (at least 2 death sentences in 2007, [6] at least 39 in 2008, [7] at least 11 in 2009, [8] at least 5 in 2010, [9] and at least 8 in 2013 [10] ). The government commuted 23 death sentences in June 2011. [11] This brings us to an estimated number of 123 prisoners currently under sentence of death.

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2014 to date (last updated on October 20, 2014)

0. [12]

Executions in 2013

0. [13]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions

Executions in 2012

0. [14]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions

Executions in 2011

0. [15]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions

Executions in 2010

0. [16]

Executions in 2009

0. [17]

Executions in 2008

0. [18]

Executions in 2007

1. [19]

Year of Last Known Execution

2007. [20] In 2007, Ethiopia executed a military officer who had been convicted of murdering the country’s former head of security and immigration. Before that, the last recorded execution in Ethiopia was carried out in 1998, when a man was executed for murdering a general. [21]

References

[1] BBC, Country Profiles: Ethiopia Profile, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13349399, May 21, 2013.
[2] BBC, Country Profiles: Ethiopia Profile, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13349399, May 21, 2013.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 43, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia – Amnesty International Report 2008, https://www.amnesty.org/en/region/ethiopia/report-2008, last accessed Mar. 26, 2014.
[5] U.N. ICCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under Article 40 of the Covenant, para. 40, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/ETH/1, Oct. 22, 2009.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 7, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 19, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 34, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 43, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[11] Aaron Maasho, Ethiopia commutes death sentences on Mengistu officers, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/01/ozatp-ethiopia-justice-idAFJOE7500DI20110601, Jun. 1, 2011.
[12] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 22, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[18] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 18, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[19] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[20] Reuters, Ethiopia carries out rare execution, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL06550887, Aug. 6, 2007.
[21] Reuters, Ethiopia carries out rare execution, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL06550887, Aug. 6, 2007.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder.
Intentional homicide “with such premeditation, motive, weapon or means, in such conditions of commission, or in any other aggravating circumstance…as to show that [the offender] is exceptionally cruel, abominable or dangerous” is punishable by death. [1] Committing intentional homicide as part of a gang formed for the purpose of homicide or robbery, or to further or conceal another offense, is punishable by death. [2] Committing intentional homicide in the aforementioned circumstances while serving a sentence of life imprisonment is punishable by death. [3]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Robbery that causes the death of the victim is punishable by death in the “most serious” cases. [4] A medical personnel of the defense forces who fails to give proper treatment and causes the death of a wounded comrade in the battle field, thereby causing serious damage to the State’s interest or the morale of the defense forces, is punishable by death. [5]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
A person, individually or as a part of a group, who causes or threatens to cause someone’s death to advance a political, religious, or ideological cause by coercing the government, threatening the public, or destabilizing or destroying political, constitutional, economic, or social institutions of the State is punishable by death. [6]

Intentionally committing the following offenses, thereby causing the loss of life, is also punishable by death in “more serious” cases: [7] preventing, disturbing, or interfering with the working of a public service or services intended for postal, telegraph, telephone communications, light, gas, power, or heat; [8] paralyzing, sabotaging, or endangering lines of communication or public transport; [9] unlawfully seizing or controlling a fixed platform on a continental shelf, an aircraft or a ship; [10] endangering a fixed platform on a continental shelf, an aircraft, or a ship; [11] destroying or damaging a fixed platform on a continental shelf, an aircraft, or a ship; [12] maliciously misusing a signal or an alarm to endanger the safety of an aircraft or a ship; [13] delivering or causing the delivery of inflammable, explosive, poisonous, corrosive, or harmful substances; [14] placing or causing the placement of dangerous substances on a fixed platform on a continental shelf, an aircraft, or a ship. [15]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
A person, individually or as a part of a group, who commits or threatens to commit the following terrorist acts to advance a political, religious, or ideological cause by coercing the government, threatening the public, or destabilizing or destroying political, constitutional, economic, or social institutions of the State is punishable by death: causing serious injury of the victim; seriously endangering the safety or the health of the public; kidnapping or taking of hostage; causing serious damage to property; causing damage to a natural resource, environment, or historical or cultural heritage; endangering, seizing, or controlling public service, thereby causing serious interference or disruption. [16]

Intentionally committing the following offenses, thereby causing injury or impairment of health, is also punishable by death in “more serious” cases: [17] preventing, disturbing, or interfering with the working of a public service or services intended for postal, telegraph, telephone communications, light, gas, power, or heat; [18] paralyzing, sabotaging, or endangering lines of communication or public transport; [19] unlawfully seizing or controlling a fixed platform on a continental shelf, an aircraft or a ship; [20] endangering a fixed platform on a continental shelf, an aircraft, or a ship; [21] destroying or damaging a fixed platform on a continental shelf, an aircraft, or a ship; [22] maliciously misusing a signal or an alarm to endanger the safety of an aircraft or a ship; [23] delivering or causing the delivery of inflammable, explosive, poisonous, corrosive, or harmful substances; [24] placing or causing the placement of dangerous substances on a fixed platform on a continental shelf, an aircraft, or a ship. [25] Intentionally, with malice or a base motive, spreading or transmitting a disease or an epidemic that can cause injury or death is punishable by death in “grave cases.” [26]

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.
Committing robbery that results in permanent disability of the victim, as a member of a gang, or with the use of arms, dangerous weapons, or means endangering collective security or with exceptional cruelty is punishable by death in the “most serious” cases. [27] Armed robbery committed habitually by a gang is also a death-eligible crime. [28]

Economic Crimes Not Resulting in Death.
Intentionally causing starvation, destitution, or general ruination by depreciating, counterfeiting, or systematically debasing the currency in time of war is punishable by death in “more serious” cases. [29] A person who confiscates, destroys, or appropriates the estates or property of a civilian, or imposes unlawful or arbitrary taxes in time of war is subject to the death penalty in “more serious” cases. [30] Confiscating, destroying, removing, or appropriating property, agricultural areas for production, crops, livestock, water installations and supplies, irrigation works, health centers, or schools belonging to the civilian population in time of war is punishable by death in “more serious” cases. [31]

Treason.
A person who overthrows, modifies, or suspends the Constitution or the constitutional order through violence, threat, or conspiracy is punishable by death if the crime causes “serious” crises to public security or life. [32]

A person who organizes a revolt, mutiny, or armed rebellion against an official or a State body, or incites a civil war is also punishable by death if the crime causes “serious” crises to public security or life. [33]

Whoever directly or indirectly destroys the political or territorial integrity of the State is subject to the death penalty in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [34] Whoever endangers or destroys the independence of the State, or initiates intervention or hostile acts by a foreign power to endanger the independence of the State or incite a war is subject to the death penalty in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [35] Undermining the defensive power of the State by unjustifiably surrendering, destroying resources, recruiting for or entering the military service of a foreign power, instigating a mutiny, desertion, or refusal to serve, or sabotaging defensive military measures is a death-eligible crime in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [36]

Taking up arms or committing hostile acts against the State, having a secret correspondence with a power at war with the State for the benefit of the enemy, or directly or indirectly delivering resources to aid the enemy is also a death-eligible crime in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [37] Helping the enemy in time of war or territorial occupation by performing civil or administrative functions for the enemy, handing over fugitives, using the press or propaganda to promote the interests of the enemy, or directly or indirectly engaging in economic collaboration with the enemy is punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [38]

“Crimes against the national State” for which the law provides the alternative of life imprisonment or the death penalty warrants the sentence of death when: committed during or under the threat of internal disturbance, war, foreign interference, or state of emergency; the acts are the consequence of a conspiracy or carried out by an organized armed band; committed using resources from a foreign country, political party, or organization; the crime accompanies the use of bombs, dynamites, explosives, or other terrorist methods that endanger public security. [39]

Espionage.
Political, diplomatic, or military espionage of “exceptional gravity,” especially in time of war or danger of war, or if the vital interests of the State are at stake, is punishable by death. [40]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Using any method of combat in time of war against the natural environment, thereby causing widespread, long-term damage to the health or survival of the civilian population, is punishable by death in “more serious” cases. [41]

Ordering or engaging in the killing or wounding of an enemy who has surrendered, laid down arms, or is incapable of defending himself, the mutilation of a dead person, or the attack of a wounded, sick, or dead enemy with the intent to rob in time of war is also punishable by death in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [42]

Ordering or engaging in the use of illegal means of combat against the enemy is death-eligible in the “gravest cases.” [43]

Desertion in time of emergency, general mobilization, or war is punishable by death in the “gravest cases.” [44]

A member of the defense forces who intentionally fails to carry out duties or refuses to obey orders in the face of the enemy is subject to the death penalty if the crime is of “exceptional gravity.” [45]

A member of the defense forces who takes part in a mutiny in time of emergency, general mobilization, or war, is also subject to the death penalty in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [46] A member of the defense forces who intentionally fails to carry out guard duties in the face of the enemy can be punished by death in “grave cases.” [47] A member of the defense forces who demoralizes the troops can be punished by death if the crime and its consequences are of “particular gravity.” [48] A member of the defense forces who refuses to fight, hides, runs away, deserts, or incites his comrades or subordinates to such behavior is subject to the death penalty in the “gravest cases.” [49]

A member of the defense forces who capitulates, abandons a fighting vehicle for which he is responsible, or surrenders a fortress or a post without having carried out his military duties or exhausted all means of defense is also subject to the death penalty. [50]

A member of the defense forces who abandons and causes the capture of a wounded or dead comrade, thereby causing serious damage to the State’s interest or the morale of the defense forces, is punishable by death. [51]

War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
- Genocide: Killing, seriously injuring a person, taking measures to prevent the propagation or survival of a group, moving or dispersing people or children, or placing people under uninhabitable conditions with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, religious, or political group is punishable by death in “more serious” cases. [52]

- War crimes: Ordering, organizing, or engaging in the following offenses is punishable by death when committed against the civilian population in time of war, armed conflict, or occupation: killing, torturing, inhumanly treating, or causing physical or mental harm; moving, dispersing, or systematically deporting the population; detaining the population in concentration camps or forced labor camps; forcibly enlisting someone in the enemy’s defense forces, intelligence services, or administration; denationalization or forcible religious conversion; coercion into prostitution, debauchery, or rape; use of intimidation, taking of hostages, or imposition of collective punishments; destroying, removing, attacking, appropriating, or using for military effort the historical monuments, works of art, or places of worship; withholding clothing, bedding, shelter, medical supplies, and other resources necessary for survival; attacking, displacing, or mistreating those considered to be stateless or refugees; recruiting children below the age of eighteen as members of the armed forces to take part in armed conflict; attacking dams, dykes, and nuclear electrical generation stations, thereby releasing dangerous forces and causing severe losses among the population; handing down sentences and carrying out executions without the judgment of the constituted court. [53] Killing an enemy who has surrendered, laid down arms, or is incapable of defending in time of war is punishable by death. [54] Enemy combatants (as opposed to regular or auxiliary forces) are subject to the death penalty in cases of “exceptional gravity.” [55] Medical personnel of the defense forces who fail to give proper treatment and causes grave harm to a wounded comrade in the battle field, thereby causing serious damage to the State’s interest or the morale of the defense forces, are punishable by death. [56]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Attempts: An attempted crime is punishable by the same punishment as the crime that was intended, [57] so attempted capital offenses may be punishable by death. However, the Criminal Code emphasizes that the death penalty should only be applied to attempts in conformity with the general principles applicable to capital punishment, namely that it is only warranted “in cases of grave crimes and on exceptionally dangerous criminals…and in the absence of any extenuating circumstances.” [58]

Comments.
Crimes that do not carry the death penalty may still be punished by death, according to the application of aggravation outlined in the Ethiopian Criminal Code. An offender who commits a crime using means endangering public safety (such as arson and explosion) or public health receives an increased penalty, [59] which can be a sentence of death. Exposing someone’s life to imminent danger or maltreatment, a brawl resulting in injury or death, an attack on a member of the defense forces on active duty resulting in injury or death, abortion, rape, or sexual outrages also warrant an increased penalty and a possible death sentence. [60]

According to a media report from May 2013, Ethiopia may introduce the death penalty against homosexuality. Government officials and religious leaders attended a workshop to discuss the “social evils” and “disastrous” effects of homosexuality. Participants of the workshop agreed that homosexuality defies nature, and a representative of the Ethiopian Inter-Religious Council Against Homosexuality (EICAH) stated that it is not a matter of human rights, but “a result of inappropriate upbringing, identity crisis, and moral decay.” He also added that the EICAH is pressuring the government to punish homosexuality with capital punishment, the prospect of which he believed “seem[ed] promising.” [61]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

No. General provisions in the Criminal Code permit courts to deliver reduced sentences on the basis of statutory or court-designated mitigating factors. [62]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

None, there is no mandatory death penalty (see answer above on the mandatory death penalty).

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

No one has been executed in Ethiopia since 2007. [63]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
The Criminal Code stipulates that those who had not attained the age of 18 at the time of crime may not be sentenced to death. [64] Ethiopia is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which prohibit executions of juvenile offenders. [65]

Pregnant Women.
A pregnant woman’s death sentence is suspended during her pregnancy, and upon live birth, the sentence of death may be commuted to life imprisonment. [66]

Women With Small Children.
A nursing mother may have her sentence commuted to life imprisonment. [67]

Mentally Ill.
According to the Criminal Code, a “[d]eath sentence shall not be carried out on fully or partially irresponsible or seriously ill person …, while they continue to be in that state.” [68]

Mentally Retarded.
According to the Criminal Code, a “[d]eath sentence shall not be carried out on fully or partially irresponsible or seriously ill person …, while they continue to be in that state.” [69]

Comments.
According to the Criminal Code, a “[d]eath sentence shall not be carried out on fully or partially irresponsible or seriously ill person …, while they continue to be in that state.” [70]

References

[1] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 539(1), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[2] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 539(1), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[3] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 539(2), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[4] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 671(2), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[5] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 316, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[6] Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 3, Proclamation No. 652/2009, Aug. 28, 2009.
[7] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 512, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[8] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 505, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[9] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 506, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[10] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 507, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[11] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 508, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[12] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 509, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[13] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 510, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[14] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 511, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[15] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 511, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[16] Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 3, Proclamation No. 652/2009, Aug. 28, 2009.
[17] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 512, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[18] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 505, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[19] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 506, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[20] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 507, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[21] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 508, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[22] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 509, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[23] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 510, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[24] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 511, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[25] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 511, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[26] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 514(2), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[27] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 671(2), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[28] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 671(2), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[29] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 270, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[30] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 270, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[31] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 270, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[32] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 238, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[33] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 240, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[34] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 241, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[35] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 246, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[36] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 247, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[37] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 248, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[38] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 251, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[39] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 258, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[40] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 252, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[41] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 270, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[42] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 275, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[43] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 276, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[44] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 288, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[45] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 298, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[46] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 299, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[47] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 303, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[48] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 311, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[49] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 312, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[50] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 313, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[51] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 316, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[52] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 269, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[53] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 270, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[54] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 275, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[55] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 278, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[56] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 316, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[57] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 27, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[58] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, arts. 27(3), 117, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[59] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, arts. 66(2), 187(2), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[60] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, arts. 66(2), 324(2), 577(4), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005
[61] Dan Littauer, Ethiopia to introduce death penalty for gays soon, says religious groups, Zehabesha, https://www.zehabesha.com/ethiopia-to-introduce-death-penalty-for-gays-soon-say-religious-groups/, May 1, 2013.
[62] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, arts. 82-86, 179, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[63] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, p. 40, ACT 50/001/2013, Apr. 10, 2013. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 48, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 34, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 22, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 18, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[64] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, arts. 117(1), 176, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[65] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 18, 2014. Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 18, 2014. List of Countries which have Signed, Ratified/Acceded to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/List/African%20Charter%20on%20the%20Rights%20and%20Welfare%20of%20the%20Child.pdf, Mar. 1, 2010.
[66] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, arts. 119-120, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[67] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 120, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[68] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 119, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[69] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 119, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[70] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 119, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

June 11, 1993. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

No. [4]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [5]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [6]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [7]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Yes. [8]

Date of Accession

June 15, 1998. [9]

Signed?

No. [10]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

No. [11]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Yes. [12]

Date of Signature

June 1, 2004. [13]

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Yes. [14]

Date of Accession

October 2, 2002. [15]

Signed?

No. [16]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [17]

Vote

Against. [18]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [19]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [20]

Vote

Against. [21]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [22]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [23]

Vote

In Favor. [24] However, Ethiopia later stated that it had intended to cast its vote against the moratorium. [25]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [26]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [27]

Vote

Against. [28]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [29]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 11, 2014.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 11, 2014.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 11, 2014.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 11, 2014.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 11, 2014.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 11, 2014.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Mar. 11, 2014.
[8] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Mar. 26, 2014.
[9] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Mar. 26, 2014.
[10] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Mar. 26, 2014.
[11] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed Mar. 26, 2014.
[12] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed Mar. 26, 2014.
[13] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed Mar. 26, 2014.
[14] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, Mar. 26, 2014.
[15] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, Mar. 26, 2014.
[16] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, Mar. 26, 2014.
[17] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[18] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[19] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[20] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, includng alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[21] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[22] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[23] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[24] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[25] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, p. 17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[26] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[27] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[28] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[29] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

According to the Ethiopian Constitution “no person may be deprived of his life except as a punishment for a serious criminal offence determined by law.” [1] It also explicitly mentions the death penalty in relation to crimes against humanity. [2]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

According to the Ethiopian Constitution, ratified international agreements become “an integral part of the law of the land.” [3] The Constitution also provides that fundamental rights and freedoms protected by the Ethiopian Constitution should be interpreted consistently with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights agreements that Ethiopia adopts. [4]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

Generally, the death penalty is applied under very limited circumstances, ordinarily in cases where there are aggravating factors and in the absence of any extenuating circumstances. [5] Since 1994, there have been only three known executions. [6] International organs such as the Human Rights Council acknowledge that the application of the death penalty is declining. [7] On September 11, 2006, for the Ethiopian New Year, the President of Ethiopia reportedly commuted ten death sentences for ordinary crimes to life imprisonment. [8] These factors appear to imply that there is reluctance on the part of the state to actually apply the death penalty. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the recently promulgated Anti-Terrorism Proclamation may change this state of affairs, as the law defines terrorist acts (punishable by death) broadly, opening the way for a range of acts - including political actions by activists critical of the government [9] - to be punished by the death penalty. [10]

Despite the reduction in the application of the death penalty, the last execution reportedly took place in 2007 [11] and Ethiopia signed all four Notes Verbales denouncing the U.N. General Assembly’s resolution calling for a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty. [12]

According to a media report in May 2013, Ethiopia may introduce the death penalty against homosexuality. Government officials and religious leaders attended a workshop to discuss the “social evils” and “disastrous” effects of homosexuality. Participants of the workshop agreed that homosexuality defies nature, and a representative of the Ethiopian Inter-Religious Council Against Homosexuality (EICAH) stated that it is not a matter of human rights, but “a result of inappropriate upbringing, identity crisis, and moral decay.” He also added that the EICAH is pressuring the government to punish homosexuality with capital punishment, the prospect of which he believed “seem[ed] promising.” [13]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No official moratorium on executions exists at present. [14]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

We found no significant published cases concerning the death penalty in Ethiopia’s courts.

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

There are no comprehensive resources on judicial decisions regarding death penalty. The Cassation Court of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia occasionally publishes seminal cases in Amharic, as decisions of this court serve as precedents for lower courts. One can search judgments by the federal courts on the website of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia at http://www.fsc.gov.et/faces/indexPages/FCHomePage.jsp (mainly in Amharic).

What is the clemency process?

A convicted and sentenced person may apply for pardon in person or through his or her spouse, relative, representative, or attorney to the Board of Pardons, which submits recommendations to the President. [15] The Board may recommend a conditional or unconditional pardon, commutation, or a rejection of pardon. [16] Under the Ethiopian Criminal Code, all ordinary crimes are pardonable. [17] Constitutionally, access to pardon or commutation by the legislature or a state organ may be limited for those committing crimes against humanity, but those sentenced to death for such crimes may still receive commutation from the Head of State. [18] For capital crimes under the Criminal Code, the Head of State must approve an execution before it can be carried out. [19]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

Jury trials do not exist in Ethiopia. [20]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Every accused person has the right to appeal. [21] The Criminal Procedure Code states that an appellant must appeal his or her conviction and sentence within fifteen days of the delivery of judgment. [22] A capital defendant may apply for a stay of execution to the court of appeal anytime before the appeal is heard or at the hearing of the appeal. [23] No stay of execution may be granted in respect of the payment of compensation. [24]

High Court decisions can be appealed in final instance to the Supreme Court. [25] Some capital cases (mainly involving the security of the state) originate before the Federal High Court and can be appealed to the Supreme Court. [26] Other capital cases (involving offenses committed by members of the federal government in connection with their office or by foreign diplomats) originate before the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court, as a court of cassation, may reconsider these cases only on the basis of a fundamental error of law. [27] It is possible that capital cases are tried in regional courts, in which case they can be appealed to the Federal Supreme Court as a court of cassation, only on the basis of a fundamental error of law. [28]

References

[1] Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 15, Proclamation No. 1/1995, effective as of Aug. 21, 1995.
[2] Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 28(2), Proclamation No. 1/1995, effective as of Aug. 21, 1995.
[3] Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 9(4), Proclamation No. 1/1995, effective as of Aug. 21, 1995.
[4] Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 13(2), Proclamation No. 1/1995, effective as of Aug. 21, 1995.
[5] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 117(1), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[6] U.N. ICCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 40 of the Covenant: First periodic report of States parties: Ethiopia, para. 41, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/ETH/1, Oct. 22, 2009. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, p. 40, ACT 50/001/2013, Apr. 10, 2013. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 48, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 34, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 22, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[7] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review: Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Ethiopia, p. 11, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/17, Jan. 4, 2010.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty Developments in 2006, p. 4, ACT 50/005/2007, May 1, 2007.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Amnesty International report on growing repression in Ethiopia, AFR 25/012/2011, Dec. 15, 2011. Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Stop Using Anti-Terror Law to Stifle Peaceful Dissent, PRE01/582/2011, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/ethiopia-stop-using-anti-terror-law-stifle-peaceful-dissent-2011-11-21, Nov. 21, 2011.
[10] Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 3, Proclamation No. 652/2009, Aug. 28, 2009.
[11] Reuters, Ethiopia carries out rare execution, http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL06550887, Aug. 6, 2007.
[12] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013. U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011. U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009. U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.
[13] Dan Littauer, Ethiopia to introduce death penalty for gays soon, says religious groups, Zehabesha, https://www.zehabesha.com/ethiopia-to-introduce-death-penalty-for-gays-soon-say-religious-groups/, May 1, 2013.
[14] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review: Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Ethiopia, p. 24, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/17, Jan. 4, 2010.
[15] Procedure of Pardon Proclamation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, arts. 3(1), 12(1), Proclamation No. 395/2004, Apr. 17, 2004.
[16] Procedure of Pardon Proclamation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 4(1), Proclamation No. 395/2004, Apr. 17, 2004.
[17] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 229(1), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[18] Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 28(2), Proclamation No. 1/1995, effective as of Aug. 21, 1995.
[19] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 117(2), Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[20] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[21] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[22] The Criminal Procedure Code of Ethiopia, art. 187(1), Proclamation No. 185, Nov. 2, 1961.
[23] The Criminal Procedure Code of Ethiopia, art. 188(5), Proclamation No. 185, Nov. 2, 1961.
[24] The Criminal Procedure Code of Ethiopia, art. 188(4), Proclamation No. 185, Nov. 2, 1961.
[25] The Criminal Procedure Code of Ethiopia, arts. 7, 182, Proclamation No. 185, Nov. 2, 1961.
[26] Federal Courts Proclamation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Proclamation No. 25/1996, arts. 4, 9, Feb. 15, 1996.
[27] Federal Courts Proclamation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Proclamation No. 25/1996, arts. 8, 10, Feb. 15, 1996.
[28] Federal Courts Proclamation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Proclamation No. 25/1996, art. 10, Feb. 15, 1996.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

By law, death row prisoners are to be detained under the same conditions as a person under a sentence of rigorous life imprisonment, [1] so they could be incarcerated in any such prison. Death row prisoners have reportedly been incarcerated in Karchele prison, [2] the central prison in Addis Ababa, but detention facilities may be moved to Kaliti prison or some other prison as Karchele was scheduled to be demolished. [3] We have found no further information on whether Karchele prison is still standing.

Description of Prison Conditions

Reports indicate that prison conditions in Ethiopia on the whole are poor and harsh. [4] Death row prisoners may be kept in punishment cells known as dark rooms, which are small, dark, and damp and cold for part of the year. [5] There is limited access to food and water, sanitation, and visits from relatives. [6] Medical treatment is inadequate and sometimes withheld from prisoners. [7]

In Kaliti prison in Addis Ababa, cells are overcrowded, with some holding up to 300 prisoners. They are also hot during the day and cold at night. A female prisoner who was seven months pregnant in 2006 reported that medical and pre-natal care was inadequate. Families are allowed to send food, clothing, and other small items, but private visits are only allowed occasionally. Written communications to defense attorneys are prohibited. [8]

Torture and violence is rampant in Ethiopian prisons. Prisoners are punched, slapped, beaten with sticks, handcuffed and suspended from the wall or ceiling, denied sleep, and held in solitary confinement. Cases of electrocution, mock drowning, and hanging weights from genitalia have been reported. [9]

Juveniles are sometimes held with adults and small children are sometimes held with their mothers. The government provides very little funding for food, water, and medical care for prisoners, and yet some officials prevent prisoners from receiving additional food from their families. The Ministry of Health reported in 2012 that almost 62% of the prisoners in Ethiopia had mental health problems as a result of solitary confinement, overcrowding, and lack of adequate health care. There are no ombudsmen to respond to complaints. However, some prisons have legal aid clinics and allow detainees to submit complaints to judicial authorities, even though courts may decline to hear them. Family visits are allowed but limited. For prisoners charged with terrorist activities, visits with families and lawyers may not be permitted at all. Prisoners are generally permitted religious observance. [10]

In 2013, the International Committee of the Red Cross visited regional prisons in Ethiopia. Government and NGO representatives were also allowed to meet regularly and privately with prisoners. A government-funded organization monitored detention centers are monitored and interviewed prison officials and prisoners. As a result, there have been some improvements in prison conditions and treatment of prisoners. [11]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

Yes. [12]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

Three Egyptian nationals were sentenced to death in 1996, and had their appeals rejected by Ethiopia’s Supreme Court in 1997. [13] Five Somalis’ cases were pending in 2002. [14] At least one Somali was sentenced to death in Ethiopia in 2010. [15]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

We found no reports of women held under sentence of death.

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

We found no reports of individuals under sentence of death for crimes committed while under the age of 18. Amnesty International reports that there have been no known executions of juveniles in Ethiopia since it started keeping track in 1990. [16]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

While we found no information on the ethnic background of death row prisoners, it is possible that members of the Oromo group are over-represented on death row. The Oromo Human Rights and Justice Council and the Advocates for Human Rights report that the Oromo have been subject to decades of government human rights violations such as arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention, torture and extra-judicial executions. [17] According to Amnesty International, members of the Oromo political opposition were arrested in 2011 and tried for terrorism, [18] which carries the death penalty in Ethiopia. At least 98 members of the Oromo Federal Democratic Movement and the Oromo People’s Congress were arrested and charged in 2011 for alleged involvement in a banned rebel group. [19] They may have been convicted of treason, which is a death-eligible crime. [20]

Reports also indicate that there have been Egyptian and Somali nationals on death row. [21]

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Indigent defendants have a constitutional right to legal representation at state expense. At the federal level there is a public defender’s office that represents, among others, defendants facing capital murder trials when the president of the High Court determines, generally through communication with prison officials, that a public defender is needed. State and local courts often lack public defender offices. When legal aid is provided through a public defender’s office, it is often rendered by non-lawyers or inexperienced lawyers. At the state or local level, legal aid may sometimes be provided through experienced contract attorneys. [22]

The Public Defender’s Office provides legal counsel to indigent defendants, although the quality of representation is limited due to the shortage of lawyers. However, there are many free university-based legal aid clinics that give advice to clients. In some areas, volunteers, including law students and professors, are allowed to represent clients in court. [23]

Defendants are reportedly often unaware of the specific charges against them until the trial, which causes legal counsel to be unprepared and inadequate. [24]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

Commentaries on legal aid do not specify whether lawyers are available for indigent prisoners on appeal. However, legal aid in general is underprovided and can be of poor quality. [25]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

The Ethiopian Bar Association is closely monitored by the government and is seen as lacking independence. The executive has ignored, displaced, and imprisoned judges when they have delivered unpopular opinions. [26]

While contract attorneys sometimes provide quality legal aid to criminal defendants, the public defender’s office uses inexperienced attorneys and non-attorneys. [27] Moreover, due to the shortage of attorneys, the quality of legal representation is limited. [28] However, there are many free university-based legal aid clinics that give advice to clients. In some areas, volunteers, including law students and professors, are allowed to represent clients in court. [29]

Defendants are reportedly often unaware of the specific charges against them until the trial. [30] During pretrial detention, authorities allow detainees little or no contact with their defense attorneys. [31] Some detainees, especially those detained under the Anti-Terrorism Law, are held incommunicado. [32] The law provides defendants the right to access government-held evidence, but in practice, the government does not always allow it. [33] All these factors contribute to legal counsel being unprepared and inadequate.

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

Constitutional interpretation is exclusively the province of the upper house of Parliament, which is controlled exclusively by the ruling party. [34] Criminal courts are generally weak and politically influenced. [35] The executive has ignored, displaced, and imprisoned judges when they have delivered unpopular opinions. [36]

The law provides defendants the right to access government-held evidence, but in practice, the government does not always allow it. Delays in trial proceedings are common due to judicial inefficiency and the lack of qualified staff. Rural areas lack formal judicial systems, causing citizens to resort to traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution. In the traditional justice system, women are often denied access to free and fair hearings. [37]

The police reportedly use excessive force, [38] with allegations of killings, arbitrary detention and intimidation of suspects. [39] Human Rights Watch reported that detainees in the Maekelawi (“central”) police station in Addis Ababa – a notorious police station where many political prisoners are interrogated - are often subject to coercion and ill-treatment amounting to torture during interrogations, including being punched and beaten, being forced to remain in stress positions, and being handcuffed for prolonged periods in their cells (5 months in one case). These coercive methods, combined with dire detention conditions, are used to extract statements and confessions. Those who do not have legal counsel present have reportedly received death threats from investigators. [40]

Although the law requires detainees to be charged within 48 hours of arrest, some people are detained for 14 days without being charged. [41] The 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation allows the police to detain suspects for investigation for a minimum of 28 days to a maximum of four months. [42] Some detainees have reported that they were held for several years without charge or trial. [43] During pretrial detention, authorities allow detainees little or no contact with their defense attorneys, do not provide information on the detainees’ health status, and do not permit visits from family members. [44]

The last few years have seen growing repression of opposition politicians and dissident journalists in Ethiopia. Between March and December 2011, 114 opposition politicians and journalists were arrested and charged with terrorist offenses under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Criminal Code. [45]

Amnesty International reports that Ethiopian law, particularly the 2009 Ethiopian Charities and Societies Proclamation, places excessive restrictions on the work of human rights organizations. The law restricts foreign funding to 10% of an organization’s budget, thus creating insurmountable practical barriers for human rights workers and exacerbating a climate of fear. [46] As a result, many human rights organizations have been denied registration. The Ethiopian government considers NGOs to be dissidents. Hostility towards foreign NGOs is especially strong; the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that the main objective of foreign NGOs is “the promotion of the agenda of their country.” Those who violate the provisions of the law are subject to punishment, which may extend to members, volunteers, and recipients of services. The vagueness of the provisions enables arbitrary criminal prosecutions. According to the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University, the law violates Ethiopia’s “international obligation to create an enabling environment for the promotion and protection of human rights that facilitates, rather than hinders, the participation of human rights NGOs.” [47]

References

[1] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 118, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[2] Amnesty Intl., Fear of Torture / Ill-treatment / harsh prison conditions / prisoner of conscience: Eskinder Negga, AFR 25/022/2006, Aug. 7, 2006.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Prisoners of conscience on trial for treason: opposition party leaders, human rights defenders and journalists, p. 20, AFR 25/013/2006, May 2006.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Fear of Torture / Ill-treatment / harsh prison conditions / prisoner of conscience: Eskinder Negga, AFR 25/022/2006, Aug. 7, 2006. Amnesty Intl., Amnesty International Report 2013: The State of the World’s Human Rights, p. 96, POL 10/001/2013, May 23, 2013. U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014. A non-governmental organization called Prison Fellowship Ethiopia that engages in prisoner’s rights and improvement of prison conditions in Ethiopia has a short documentary that graphically portrays prison conditions in Ethiopia in general. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh6uVWBjsgs, Apr. 25, 2007.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Fear of Torture / Ill-treatment / harsh prison conditions / prisoner of conscience: Eskinder Negga, AFR 25/022/2006, Aug. 7, 2006.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Fear of Torture / Ill-treatment / harsh prison conditions / prisoner of conscience: Eskinder Negga, AFR 25/022/2006, Aug. 7, 2006. Amnesty Intl., Amnesty International Report 2013: The State of the World’s Human Rights, p. 96, POL 10/001/2013, May 23, 2013. U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Amnesty International Report 2013: The State of the World’s Human Rights, p. 96, POL 10/001/2013, May 23, 2013.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Prisoners of conscience on trial for treason: opposition party leaders, human rights defenders and journalists, p. 20, AFR 25/013/2006, May 2006.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Amnesty International Report 2013: The State of the World’s Human Rights, p. 96, POL 10/001/2013, May 23, 2013.
[10] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[11] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[12] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, Jan. 19, 2013.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Death Penalty, AFR 25/15/96, Sep. 26, 1996. Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Further information on death penalty, AFR 25/06/97, Apr. 1, 1997.
[14] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, Jan. 19, 2013.
[15] Sudan Tribune, Ethiopia Passes Death Sentence on Convicted Somali Islamist, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article34550, Mar. 26, 2010.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Executions of Juveniles Since 1990, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/executions-of-child-offenders-since-1990, last accessed Mar. 18, 2014.
[17] Oromia Human Rights and Justice Council, Oromia Human Rights and Justice Council (OHRJC) – individual UPR submission-Ethiopia-November/December 2009, para. 22, http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session6/ET/OHRJC_ETH_UPR_S06_2009.pdf, Apr. 5, 2009. The Advocates for Human Rights, Human Rights in Ethiopia: Through the Eyes of the Oromo Diaspora, Dec. 2009.
[18] Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Stop Using Anti-Terror Law to Stifle Peaceful Dissent, PRE01/582/2011, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/ethiopia-stop-using-anti-terror-law-stifle-peaceful-dissent-2011-11-21, Nov. 21, 2011.
[19] Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Stop Using Anti-Terror Law to Stifle Peaceful Dissent, PRE01/582/2011, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/ethiopia-stop-using-anti-terror-law-stifle-peaceful-dissent-2011-11-21, Nov. 21, 2011.
[20] The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 240, Proclamation No. 414/2004, May 9, 2005.
[21] Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Death Penalty, AFR 25/15/96, Sep. 26, 1996. Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Further information on death penalty, AFR 25/06/97, Apr. 1, 1997. Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, Jan. 19, 2013. Sudan Tribune, Ethiopia Passes Death Sentence on Convicted Somali Islamist, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article34550, Mar. 26, 2010.
[22] The World Bank, Ethiopia: Legal and Judicial Sector Assessment, pp. 30-31, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLAWJUSTINST/Resources/EthiopiaSA.pdf, 2004.
[23] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[24] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[25] The World Bank, Ethiopia: Legal and Judicial Sector Assessment, pp. 30-31, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLAWJUSTINST/Resources/EthiopiaSA.pdf, 2004. U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[26] The World Bank, Ethiopia: Legal and Judicial Sector Assessment, pp. 22, 28, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLAWJUSTINST/Resources/EthiopiaSA.pdf, 2004.
[27] The World Bank, Ethiopia: Legal and Judicial Sector Assessment, pp. 30-31, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLAWJUSTINST/Resources/EthiopiaSA.pdf, 2004.
[28] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[29] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[30] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Trial Procedures, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[31] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[32] Human Rights Watch, “They Want a Confession”: Torture and Ill-Treatment in Ethiopia’s Maekelawi Police Station, p. 33, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/ethiopia1013_ForUpload_0.pdf, Oct. 13, 2013.
[33] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[34] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186196.htm, May 24, 2012. Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Prisoners of conscience on trial for treason: opposition party leaders, human rights defenders and journalists, p. 3, AFR 25/013/2006, May 2006.
[35] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[36] The World Bank, Ethiopia: Legal and Judicial Sector Assessment, pp. 22, 28, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLAWJUSTINST/Resources/EthiopiaSA.pdf, 2004.
[37] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[38] Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Recent arrests of opposition leaders and police killings of 46 demonstrators, AFR 25/019/2005, Nov. 11, 2005.
[39] Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Prisoners of conscience on trial for treason: opposition party leaders, human rights defenders and journalists, pp. 5, 13, 15, 21, AFR 25/013/2006, May 2006.
[40] Human Rights Watch, “They Want a Confession”: Torture and Ill-Treatment in Ethiopia’s Maekelawi Police Station, pp. 2-3, 30-31, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/ethiopia1013_ForUpload_0.pdf, Oct. 13, 2013.
[41] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[42] Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, art. 20(3), Proclamation No. 652/2009, Aug. 28, 2009.
[43] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[44] U.S. Dept. of State, 2013 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia, Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm, Feb. 27, 2014.
[45] Amnesty Intl., Amnesty International report on growing repression in Ethiopia, AFR 25/012/2011, Dec. 15, 2011. Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Stop Using Anti-Terror Law to Stifle Peaceful Dissent, PRE01/582/2011, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/ethiopia-stop-using-anti-terror-law-stifle-peaceful-dissent-2011-11-21, Nov. 21, 2011.
[46] Amnesty Intl., Human rights of victims of terrorism. Excessive restrictions on human rights work in Ethiopia: Oral intervention at the UN Human Rights Council 20th Session (18 June – 6 July 2012), AFR 25/009/2012, Jun. 21, 2012.
[47] Center for International Human Rights, Northwestern University School of Law, Sounding the Horn: Ethiopia’s Civil Society Law Threatens Human Rights Defenders, pp. 4-6, 8, Nov. 2009.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee, in its 2011 concluding observations, acknowledged the de facto moratorium on the death penalty in Ethiopia, but expressed concern about the imposition of death sentences for “crimes which appear to have a political dimension.” [1] It recommended that the death penalty should only be imposed for the most serious crimes and that Ethiopia should consider commuting all death sentences, ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, and consider abolishing the death penalty. [2]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

In 2009, the U.N. Human Rights Council, through the Universal Periodic Review Process, recommended that Ethiopia ratify and become party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR with an aim to abolish the death penalty, establish a moratorium on the death penalty, and commute pending death sentences. [3] These recommendations were not supported by Ethiopia. [4] Finally, the Human Rights Council recognized Ethiopia’s current efforts at limiting the application of the death penalty to exceptional cases. [5]

References

[1] U.N. ICCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 40 of the Covenant: Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: Ethiopia, para. 9, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/ETH/CO/1, Aug. 19, 2011.
[2] U.N. ICCPR, Human Rights Committee, Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 40 of the Covenant: Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: Ethiopia, para. 9, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/ETH/CO/1, Aug. 19, 2011.
[3] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review: Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Ethiopia, pp. 23-24, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/17, Jan. 4, 2010.
[4] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review: Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Ethiopia, pp. 23-24, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/17, Jan. 4, 2010.
[5] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Universal Periodic Review: Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Ethiopia, p. 11, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/17, Jan. 4, 2010.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

Reprieve
PO Box 72054
London EC3P 3BZ
United Kingdom
Tel 020 7553 8140
Fax 020 7553 8189
info@reprieve.org.uk
http://www.reprieve.org.uk

Helpful Reports and Publications

Amnesty Intl., Ethiopia: Stop Using Anti-Terror Law to Stifle Peaceful Dissent, AI Index: PRE01/582/2011, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/ethiopia-stop-using-anti-terror-law-stifle-peaceful-dissent-2011-11-21, Nov. 21, 2011.

Center for International Human Rights, Northwestern University School of Law, Sounding the Horn: Ethiopia’s Civil Society Law Threatens Human Rights Defenders, Nov. 2009.

Human Rights Watch, “They Want a Confession”: Torture and Ill-Treatment in Ethiopia’s Maekelawi Police Station, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/ethiopia1013_ForUpload_0.pdf, Oct. 13, 2013.

The World Bank, Ethiopia: Legal and Judicial Sector Assessment, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTLAWJUSTINST/Resources/EthiopiaSA.pdf, 2004.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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