Sunday 18 March 2018

Rights groups appeal for UK citizen on death row in Ethiopia

Rights groups appeal for UK citizen on death row in Ethiopia
(AFP (eng) 10/27/17)
Andargachew Tsege, center, is pictured with his partner Yemi Hailemariam, left, and family. Tsege has been on death row in Ethiopia since 2014.

Human rights organisations and a group of London MPs appealed to the UK government on Thursday to intervene in the case of a British citizen on death row in Ethiopia.

US-based Human Rights Watch and London's Reprieve were among five organisations to write to Foreign Minister Boris Johnson over the case of Andy Tsege, who has been imprisoned in Ethiopia since 2014.

"Andy's life is in danger as long as he continues to be arbitrarily detained in Ethiopia," they wrote.

"The only way to ensure Mr. Tsege's safety and wellbeing is for the UK to urgently seek Mr Tsege's return home to London. We urge you to reconsider your priorities in Mr Tsege's case, and to negotiate his return to the UK."

An opponent of the Ethiopian government, Tsege is a British citizen and had been living in London in 2009 when he was sentenced to death in absentia.

He was detained at an airport in Yemen and sent to Ethiopia where he has suffered mistreatment in prison, said the letter which was also signed by Redress and Article 19, British rights organisations, and the Kenya-based Ethiopia Human Rights Project.

A cross-party group of 30 London MPs have also petitioned the foreign minister.

"In your role as foreign secretary, you are now in a position to help achieve the goal you yourself endorsed as Mayor: bringing Andy back home to his family," said lawmakers, quoted in London's Evening Standard newspaper.

In an open letter to Tsege's supporters in August, Johnson said he and Prime Minister Theresa May had raised the case with their counterparts during a London visit in May.

The British foreign minister said the government's priorities were to ensure the death sentence is not carried out, legal representation and Tsege's wellbeing, describing him as being "in good spirits".

"Neither calling for his release nor reducing our commitment to the Ethiopian people would be helpful at this stage. It could in fact damage the progress we have made in this case, including consular access to Mr Tsege," Johnson said.

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