Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie – Coordinators, Global Call to Action on Poverty (2)

Re: Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie – Coordinators, Global Call to Action on Poverty

To: Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

From: Carla E.I. Gibbons

Date: 2008-01-15

We write further to our letter of November 21, 2007.

LRWC expresses concern that that Messrs. Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie’s recent conviction for “provoking and preparing outrages against the Ethiopian Constitution” was solely for their peaceful actions as human rights defenders, thus rendering them prisoners of conscience.

The criminal prosecution of persons for their political beliefs is contrary to article 18 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights. We further refer to Article 9 of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, particularly section 1 which states that the constitution “is the supreme law of the land” and section 4 which states that “all international agreements ratified by Ethiopia are an integral part of the law of the land,” which in effect imports Ethiopia’s international obligations into its domestic law.

LRWC respectfully calls for Ethiopia to abide by its human rights obligations both domestically and internationally and conform with the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 8, 1998, in particular article 1 which provides that “every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international levels.” These obligations will be fulfilled by immediately releasing Messrs. Bekele and Netsanet and striking any record of their conviction.

LRWC kindly requests your early response by mail, e-mail or fax to advise of your actions on the above-mentioned matters. Thank you for your attention to our concerns.