Programs: Science and Policy
AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program
AAAS Human Rights Action Network
|Date:||15 August 2006|
|Subject:||Dr. Berhanu Nega moved to a better ventilated cell|
|Issues:||Academic and scientific freedom; Freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention; Freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Freedom of opinion and expression; Right to medical treatment while in detention|
|Type of alert:||Update|
|Related alerts:||22 May 2001; 11 June 2001; 24 May 2002; 14 December 2005; 15 July 2006; 15 July 2006|
FACTS OF THE CASE:
Dr Berhanu Nega, professor of Economics and Mayor-elect of Addis Ababa, has been moved to a less crowded and better ventilated cell in Kaliti prison in Addis Ababa, in compliance with a High Court ruling on 19 July. Dr. Nega had been experiencing health trouble related to overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Dr. Nega faces charges of "violent conspiracy" and treason.
Dr. Nega suffers from high blood pressure and cardiomyopathy and was hospitalized on 9 June, after experiencing shortness of breath. He was returned to prison, however, without being examined by a cardiologist. Upon his release, doctors advised that he should be kept in a cleaner, better ventilated, less crowded cell. These recommendations have reportedly gone unheeded, and there are reports that Dr. Nega's potentially life-threatening condition has worsened since returning to prison. However, on 19 July Amnesty International reports that the High Court ordered Dr. Nega be placed in better conditions. Unlike his previous cell which held 270 prisoners, Dr. Nega is now in a cell which holds about 35 prisoners. Although detention conditions remain harsh, it is thought that this development will help to ensure that Dr. Nega's health remains stable.
Dr. Nega was detained as part of a massive round-up of suspected members of the opposition party, Coalition for Unity and Democracy. On 1 and 2 November 2005, 3,000 to 4,000 members and suspected members of CUD were arrested following months of protests against alleged fraud in the May 2005 parliamentary elections. Many of those arrested were subsequently released. However, Dr. Nega and other opposition leaders remain jailed in Kaliti prison, where it is reported that sanitary facilities are poor and that there are rats, cockroaches, and fleas in the cells. Also, the current rainy season makes the cells damp and cold. Although prisoners are allowed to visit with family on the weekends and receive food, books, and other items, they cannot write to their family.
(Sources of information for this case include: Amnesty International, www.savenega.org)
RELEVANT HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS
American Convention on Human Rights
- Article 13: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression.
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Article 14: Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Article 10: All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
- Article 14(1): All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him [or her], or of his [or her] rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.
- Article 19(1): Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- Article 12: (1): The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. (2): The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for: (c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases; (d) The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.
The Human Rights Defenders Declaration
- Article 7: Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to develop and discuss new human rights ideas and principles and to advocate their acceptance.
UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners
- Article 10: All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.
- Article 22(2): Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals. Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Please send faxes, letters, or emails:
- Commending the actions taken by prison officials to transfer Professor Berhanu Nega into a room better suited for his medical conditions, but also
- Continuing to express concern for the health of Professor Berhanu Nega and calling for him to be transferred to a hospital immediately and given all necessary medical care, including treatment by a cardiologist; and
- Appealing for the immediate and unconditional release of Professor Berhanu Nega and all those detained because of the peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression and political beliefs.
APPEAL AND INQUIRY MESSAGES SHOULD BE SENT TO:
Commander of Kaliti Prison
PO Box 2436
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Salutation: Dear Commander
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: 011 251 11 517775/ 520874
Salutation: Dear Minister
COPIES SENT TO:
Dr. Tewodros Adhanom
Minister of Health
Ministry of Health
PO Box 1234
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Salutation: Dear Doctor Adhanom
Ambassador Kassahun Ayele
Ambassador to the U.S.
Embassy of Ethiopia
3506 International Dr NW
Washington DC 20008
Fax: 1 202 587 0195
Salutation: Dear Mr. Ambassador
Federal Administration of Prisons
Prison Service Headquarters
PO Box 2234
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Please send copies of your appeals, and any responses you may receive, or direct any questions you may have to Josh Robbins, AAAS Science and Human Rights Program, 1200 New York Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20005; tel. 202-326-6787; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or fax 202-289-4950.
The keys to effective appeals are to be courteous and respectful, accurate and precise, impartial in approach, and as specific as possible regarding the alleged violation and the international human rights standards and instruments that apply to the situation. Reference to your scientific organization and professional affiliation is always helpful.
To ensure that appeals are current and credible, please do not continue to write appeals on this case after 90 days from the date of the posting unless an update has been issued.