Friday, June 02, 2006

Civicus Calls For DANIEL'S RELEASE

ADDIS ABABA - On 28 May, the people and government of Ethiopia will celebrate National Day, marking the 15th anniversary of the country’s freedom from military dictatorship.

While saluting Ethiopia for the gains it has made, Civicus joins six organisations and 23 individuals from 10 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe in reminding the government of the commitments made to foster democracy, freedom, development and human rights 15 years ago.

The joint appeal urges the government of Ethiopia to fulfil those promises and allow civil society to flourish once more in the country. It asks the government to unconditionally release and drop all charges against the civil society activists currently being detained on charges of treason, particularly the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) campaign coordinators, Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie.

The trial of Daniel and Netsanet, together with more than 100 civil society activists, journalists and members of the opposition parties, began on May 2 2006.

The defendants face six charges, including attempted genocide and treason. Specifically, Daniel and Netsanet are charged under Article 238(2) of the criminal code with “the crime of outrage against the constitution and the constitutional order.”

The charge can carry the severe punishments of life imprisonment or death. Both Daniel and Netsanet have been denied bail, even after appealing to the Supreme Court.

The appeal asks the Government of Ethiopia to re-assert its commitment to democracy, development and human rights by releasing civil society activists and publicly assuring Ethiopian citizens of their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms to participate in public affairs

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