DANIEL BEKELE AND NETSANET DEMISSIE – Coordinators of the Global Call to Action on Poverty

Mr. Bekele and Mr. Demissie are anti-poverty activists who, prior to November 22, 2007, were detained for two years on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government as a result of the legitimate and peaceful human rights work. If found guilty they faced the prospect of life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Between November 22, 2007 and January 25, 2008, Mr. Bekele and Mr. Demissie were convicted of “provoking and preparing outrages against the Ethiopian Constitution. Their prosecution is contrary to article 18 of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, to which Ethiopia is a signatory, as well as Article 9 of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, specifically section 1, which states that, “The Constitution is the supreme law of the land,” and section 4 which states that, “International agreements ratified by Ethiopia are an integral part of the law of the land,” which effectively imports Ethiopia’s international obligations into its domestic law.


Letters were sent to the Ethiopian Prime Minister by LRWC member Cara E.I. Gibbons on 21 November, 2007 expressing concern over the prosecutions or Mr. Bekele and Mr. Demissie and 15 January, 2008, expressing concern over their convictions.