August 22, 2016
A British father on death row in Ethiopia continues to be denied access to a lawyer – over two months after the UK Foreign Secretary claimed he had “secure[d] legal representation.”
Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, a British citizen and political activist, was kidnapped from an international airport in 2014 and has been detained under an unlawful, in absentia death sentence ever since – as part of a government crackdown on opposition politicians and journalists.
On 1 June this year, then-Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond announced that, during a visit to Ethiopia, he had raised the case and “received a commitment from the Prime Minister that Mr Tsege will be allowed access to independent legal advice”.
However, international human rights charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Tsege, has since established that not only has he not received legal access, but he has been denied even the writing materials he would need to request a lawyer.
Reprieve wrote to current Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on 11 August to alert him to the latest developments, but has yet to receive a reply.
In the letter, Reprieve points out that the Ethiopian Government had previously stated that “there is no appeal process” available for Mr Tsege, and it is “not possible” for him to challenge his death sentence. UN experts have said that he was sentenced to death “without due process” and in violation of his rights under the Convention Against Torture.
Reprieve argues that due process is therefore “impossible” for Mr Tsege, and that the British Government needs now to move on from demanding legal access and instead request that Mr Tsege is returned home to London without delay.
Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve said: “This shows that the Ethiopian Government has no intention of treating Andy fairly. Andy was illegally sentenced to death while living in London, illegally kidnapped and rendered to Ethiopia where he has been held in unlawful detention for over two years. Not only are the Ethiopian authorities refusing him a lawyer – they won’t even provide pen and paper so he can request one. The British Government must now recognise that Ethiopia is not serious about the rule of law, and demand that Andy is released immediately from his unlawful detention and returned to his family in London.”