Ethiopia: The Government Should Give Explanation about the Unlawful Raid and Search of the OLF Chairman, Mr. Dawud Ibsa’s House in the Night of May 03, 2021
For Immediate Release, May 06, 2021
HRLHA was denied access to visit the Oromo Liberation Front’s (OLF) Chairman Mr. Dawud Ibsa
On May 04, 2021, ‘The OLF Diplomatic Chapter’ released an urgent press statement that condemns the illegal raid of the residence of Mr. Dawud Ibsa, chairperson of the OLF by the government security forces on the night of May 03, 2021, at around 8:00 pm local time. HRLHA has been following up on the situation from the very moment the Voice of Oromo Liberation (VOL) released a piece of news about the illegal raid of Mr. Dawud Ibsa ’s house. On May 05, 2021, in the afternoon, HRLHA officials comprising of the Director-General and Country Director were at the residence of OLF’s Chairman, which is located in the capital Addis Ababa, around a specific area called ‘Mekenisa Abo Orthodox Church’ in front of the Denmark Embassy.
Nevertheless, an effort made by the officials to meet with Mr. Dawud Ibsa was not successful. The security men guarding Mr. Dawud Ibsa’s house were not willing to let the officials into the compound. The security men denied the officials’ request to meet with Mr. Dawud and hear his view about the allegations of the illegal search of his house, and to observe the situation in the compound. Despite this, the officials got an opportunity to talk to a certain Addis Ababa City Police Officer who wants to remain anonymous and who claims to be in charge of policing the area surrounding Mr. Dawud’s residence.
According to the officer, the allegations being propagated on various social media outlets about what happened at the residence of Mr. Dawud are exaggerated. He added that the city police has been diligently discharging its responsibility of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Mr. Dawud in coordination with other concerned security officials. Yet, the officer preferred not to provide a confirmation of the alleged illegal raid and search of Mr. Dawud’s house on the night of May 03, 2021. Put differently, he neither admitted nor denied the incident. Yet, HRLHA’s officials have witnessed a fresh scar (scratch) on the gate of a compound that complements an allegation of force used by police to effect entry into the compound and raid the house. Though not yet successful, HRLHA is also attempting to reach out to concerned higher officials of both the Addis Ababa City Police and Federal Police.
Mr. Dawud Ibsa has been undergoing a house arrest since early April 2021 without any court order or legal ground. It is to be recalled that Mr. Dawud had been put under house arrest for months immediately following the assassination of the renowned Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa on June 30, 2020. The news of Mr. Dawud Ibsa’s house search by government security forces came about the same day the OLF released a press statement denouncing the bill proposed by the Council of Ministers to proscribe “Shane” and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) as terrorist organization.
The 1961 Criminal Procedure Code of Ethiopia under Article 33(5) provides that ‘unless otherwise expressly ordered by the Court, searches shall be carried out only between the hours of 6 A.M. and 6 P.M.’, that is, in the daytime. Therefore, the search of Mr. Dawud Ibsa’s house without any ground justifying ‘search without warrant’ as provided under Article 32(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code is unlawful. Above all, the search is contrary to the law as it was made in the night without an explicit court order. Above all, these measures taken by government security forces violate the right to privacy as enshrined under Article 26(1) of the Federal Constitution of Ethiopia and international human rights treaties ratified by the country such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
To this end, HRLHA strongly urges the Government of Ethiopia to immediately:
- Give an explanation of the incident that occurred at the residence of Mr. Dawud Ibsa on the night of May 03, 2021, for the public
- Stop denying Mr. Dawud access to meet with visitors, among others, family members, relatives, colleagues and officials, members as well as supporters of the OLF.
- Stop the house arrest of Mr. Dawud and end the harassment of his private guards as well as relatives and family members residing with him.
- Ensure a free and fair political space for the OLF and unconditionally release its senior officials, members, and supporters languishing in different prisons especially in the Oromia Region without charge (some of them illegally) for several months.
- Stop repression of political dissents and Facilitate an all-inclusive discussion and dialogue in which all actors including OLF participate to bring about lasting peace and democratic transition of the country.