HASSAN AHMED MAKHTAL: LATEST VICTIM OF INSTITUTIONALISED TORTURE
Article 2 of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment states that: "Each State party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture."
Common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 prohibits torture during internal armed conflict. States are also required to bring those responsible for torture to justice and to give redress and compensation to those who have been tortured.
Article 18(1) of the Ethiopian Constitution states that: “No person shall be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
However, in the Ogaden, there is neither arrest nor interrogation without torture. Usually, Ethiopian armed and security forces systematically torture detainees to extract confessions or information under duress. A number of people were tortured to death. The OHRC has examined a large number of torture survivors; some of them were disabled, while others bore scars of torture on their bodies.
The latest victim of Ethiopian government’s institutionalized torture was Hassan Ahmed Makhtal who died from wounds sustained during his detention.
On May 17th 2007, in Jigjiga, Ethiopian security forces and the local police arrested Hassan Ahmed Makhtal and a number of his relatives from their residences in the dead of night. And then they were transferred to Garabcase military barracks and Jigjiga Police Centre. According to ex-jail mates and relatives’ accounts they have undergone severe physical and psychological torture. Hassan, who was in a poor state of health, was denied adequate medical treatment while he was in detention. (See Ogaden: Ethiopian
Government Forces: Massacre, displace and starve out the civilian population with impunity ref: OHRC/AR/07).
Recently, after 22 months of detention without official charges or trial he was released on bail, and was not allowed to travel abroad for medical treatment.
Hassan’s younger brother Bashir Ahmed Makhtal who is a prominent Canadian businessman, and originates from the Ogaden region, is now serving a life sentence in an Ethiopian jail. He was accused of being a member of the Ogaden National Liberation Front. (Bashir Ahmed Makhtal: Addis Ababa Court’s Sentence: A Miscarriage of Justice ref: OHRC /PRAU/1209).
Since the arrest of his Canadian brother, the Ethiopian government has hunted down all members of his extended family without an apparent reason.
The Ogaden Human Rights Committee is concerned about the safety and well-being of the remaining members of Hassan Ahmed Makhtal’s extended family, who are in detention and asks for their unconditional and immediate release.
The Ogaden Human Rights Committee condemns Ethiopian government’s policy of subjecting detainees to torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Ogaden Human Rights Committee