Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ethiopia: The Case Against Trial By Public Media – OpEd

Eurasia Review February 7, 2013 By Alemayehu Fentaw Weldemariam An authoritarian regime is bad, no matter what its ideological dressing may be. Terrorism is also bad, whether it is Islamic, secular, or so-called state terrorism. While this may be a truism, the EPRDF would argue that neither could nor should be forced on it. Yesterday, ETV aired on prime time television a documentary prepared by the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) and the Federal Police Anti-Terror Joint Task-Force titled “Jihadawi Harekat” and subtitled “Boko Haram in Ethiopia”, despite an injunction issued by the Federal High Court prohibiting the dissemination of the film. The broadcast took place while the trials of 29 peaceful Muslim protesters, who are accused of terrorism, are pending. The footage features few facts supported by evidence, except for the confessions of the accused, which, according to their defense attorney, were compelled by force. The central problem with the broadcast is that the defendants, already disadvantaged by coerced confessions, will now face the added hazard of prejudiced public opinion. It is plainly evident that the defendants will not have a fair trial and that adverse publicity has gutted the principle of the presumption of innocence of the accused. This raises the additional grave concern – the right to a fair trial with presumption of innocence does not exist in Ethiopia! This is a classic hallmark of an authoritarian regime. Read the entire article here.

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