Free Andergachew

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege

UPDATE:  Andy was released from prison after he received a pardon from the Ethiopian Government on 26 May 2018.

Andargachew “Andy” Tsege, is a UK citizen and father of three from London, who was abducted under the orders of the Ethiopian authorities on 23 June 2014. He remained on death row in Ethiopia until 29 May 2018 after he received a pardon from the Ethiopian Government.

ANDY’S STORY

A prominent figure in Ethiopian opposition politics, Andy was previously detained and assaulted in custody in 2005. In 2009 and in 2012 he was tried in absentia under an anti-terrorism proclamation, in trials that did not follow due process. He was sentenced to death in the first trial and to life imprisonment in the second.

On 23 June 2014, Andy was abducted while transiting through Sana’a airport, Yemen, by what are believed to have been Yemeni intelligence officers acting on the orders of Ethiopian authorities.

His whereabouts were unknown until two weeks after his abduction, when the Ethiopian Government confirmed that he was being held in Ethiopia after being transported from Yemen.

The UK Ambassador was only allowed to see Andy more than 50 days after his abduction, on 11 August 2014. The meeting took place in the police headquarters in Addis Ababa, where Ethiopian security officials were present at all times, meaning that Andy was unable to speak freely.

The Ambassador was the first person Andy had seen since his abduction on 23 June. It became clear that Andy had not been told of the charges being made against him, or what action the Ethiopian authorities intended to take. Andy had not had access to a lawyer or independent medical treatment.

Andy was held in solitary confinement and incommunicado in an unknown location for over a year. Around July 2015, Andy was transferred to Kality federal prison in Addis Ababa. The UK Ambassador was only informed of his location nearly one month later.

Andy remains effectively in incommunicado detention from his family in the UK. The Ethiopian authorities have not allowed Andy to be in contact with his family except for a single phone call in December 2014, which was monitored by Ethiopian authorities.

The Ethiopian authorities have continued to deny Andy regular consular access to the UK authorities. He has not had a single private visit since he was abducted in June 2014.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have confirmed that there is no appeal process available to Andy, and it is not possible for him to appeal his in absentia death sentence.

REDRESS believes that, over three years since his original abduction, the lack of progress made in Andy’s case necessitates an urgent change in the UK Government’s approach. We have called on the UK Government to take the necessary steps to secure his return home to London.

ACTION FOR JUSTICE

On 4 February 2015, REDRESS along with fellow human rights organisation Reprieve, submitted a complaint on behalf of Andy and his family to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, calling for Andy’s immediate release and repatriation to the UK.

In this complaint, we argued that Andy’s abduction and removal to Ethiopia was unlawful and that his detention is arbitrary. We argued that his right to a fair trial has been violated, and that he is at ongoing risk of torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary execution.

We also requested that the African Commission specify provisional measures for the Ethiopian government to implement urgently, pending the Commission’s final determination of the complaint. We requested that Andy’s location and status be disclosed, along with a guarantee of his safety and well-being while in custody as well as regular and unhindered access to legal representation, to communication with his family, and to consular access to the UK Government.

REDRESS and Reprieve have kept the African Commission regularly updated on Andy’s case.

On 18 October 2016, REDRESS wrote a joint letter with four NGOs urging Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to call for Andy’s immediate release.

On 5 October 2017, REDRESS and Reprieve updated the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) on the lack of implementation of its decision taken in May 2015, which condemned Andy’s arbitrary arrest and detention and called for his immediate release.

On 26 October 2017, REDRESS wrote a second joint letter with five NGOs urging Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to negotiate Andy’s release and return him home to his family.

THE OUTCOMES

In response to our complaint, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights issued a decision on provisional measures on 4 February 2015, requesting for Ethiopia to secure Andy’s immediate release and repatriation to the United Kingdom.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) published its findings on 8 May 2015, condemning Andy’s arbitrary arrest and detention, and called for his immediate release.

The WGAD found that Andy’s deprivation of liberty constituted a breach of articles 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the UDHR, and of articles 9 and 12 of the ICCPR. They also found that Andy should be afforded adequate compensation for the abuses he has suffered.

On 26 May 2018, Andy was granted a pardon by the Ethiopian government. He was released from prison on 29 May 2018 after spending almost four years in death row in Ethiopia.

QUICK FACTS

  • Case name: Andargachew “Andy” Tsege
  • Jurisdiction: African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
  • Date filed: 04 February 2015
  • Current status: Case ongoing | Decision reached | Implementation pending
  • Legal representation: REDRESS

KEY WORDS

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948, which sets out the fundamental human rights which must be universally protected.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 1966, committing signatories to respect the civil and political rights of individuals

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), mandated by the UN, is a body composed of independent experts in the field of human rights. The Working Group’s mission is to investigate cases of arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and to take action relating to those cases when necessary.

PHOTO CREDIT

Photo by Free Andy Tsege campaign.