Boris Johnson urged to get British father on death row home

October 26, 2017

Five leading human rights groups have today urged the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, to take action to negotiate the return of a British father on death row in Ethiopia, after more than three years of a failed strategy.

Andy Tsege was sentenced to death in absentia in 2009, while he was living in London with his partner and three children. His Ethiopian trial was described by US diplomats who observed it as “lacking in basic elements of due process” and a form of “political retaliation”. In 2014 Andy was kidnapped by security forces from an airport and transported illegally across an international border to Ethiopia. He has been on death row ever since.

The UK Government has so far failed to negotiate Andy’s return home to his family and has focussed instead on securing legal representation in Ethiopia, despite the fact the Ethiopian Government has made clear there are no legal appeals available to Andy. There are also concerns that prison guards have been present at all meetings Andy has had with the British embassy staff and his lawyer, in breach of international standards on consular access.

Andy’s family have not spoken him since a brief phone call in December 2014. Despite a promise by Boris Johnson in March that he would help Andy’s partner, Yemi, get a visa to visit him, the Ethiopian government have refused to grant one.

The letter – signed by Reprieve, Redress, Article 19, Human Rights Watch, and the Ethiopian Human rights Project – states: “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.”

Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve said:

“Andy is a British father who has spent over three years imprisoned on Ethiopia’s death row. Unlawfully sentenced to death by an Ethiopian court while he was living in London, kidnapped from an international airport, and rendered to Ethiopia, Andy has been repeatedly failed by the British government. The strategy of focussing on legal and consular access is clearly not working and Andy still has the threat of execution hanging over him. It is time for Boris Johnson to take control of the situation and negotiate Andy’s return to his family in London.”

 

Notes to Editors:

1. The full letter can be read here.

2. Background on Andy’s case is here.