MEPs call on Ethiopia to release kidnapped British father

January 21, 2016

Image of Andy Tsege and his family

The European Parliament has called on the government of Ethiopia to release a British activist who is held under sentence of death.

In a resolution passed this afternoon, the MEPs called on Ethiopia to release Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, a father of three from London. He has been held in Ethiopia in incommunicado detention since his kidnap and rendition there by Ethiopian forces in June 2014. Mr Tsege is a prominent member of the Ethiopian opposition, and was sentenced to death in absentia in 2009 in relation to his political activities. He has been unable to contact a lawyer since his arrest, and his family in London – who are assisted by human rights organization Reprieve – have been blocked from seeing him, amid fears that he may be being tortured.

The text of the resolution, making reference to a UN Human Rights Council opinion published last year, “Urges the authorities to implement, in particular, the recommendation of the Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and to release British national and political activist Andargachew Tsege immediately.” The MEPs also note that “Mr Tsege had been condemned to death several years earlier in his absence, and has been on death row practically incommunicado since his arrest.”

The European Parliament resolution goes further than the British government’s position on the case. UK ministers have so far failed to request Mr Tsege’s release, instead calling for regular consular access, and ‘due process’ for him in Ethiopia – neither of which has been granted.

The call from MEPs comes as new fears emerged for Mr Tsege’s mental state in detention. In an expert report published this week, Dr Ben Robinson of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust concluded that: “Mr Tsege’s mental health has declined precipitously since being detained in Ethiopia.” Dr Robinson added that there is an “urgent need” to remove him from his current conditions.

Commenting, Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said:

“The European Parliament is right to remind Ethiopia that it is unlawful and unacceptable to kidnap, torture and sentence to death people like Andy Tsege – all for the ‘crime’ of holding political beliefs that are different to those of the regime. It is shocking that European parliamentarians and the UN are doing more for Andy than his own government in Britain. The UK must urgently change its position, and call for Andy’s release.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8140. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064.

2. The European Parliament’s resolution on Ethiopia can be read here.

3. The psychological report on Andy Tsege, and further information, is available on request.