In Ethiopia, TrialWatch is monitoring how inter-ethnic tensions are playing out in court and the fast-diminishing protections afforded freedom of expression, association and assembly, and the press. The Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia is monitoring as part of TrialWatch cases brought against opposition figures, including journalists, in relation to the civil unrest and violence that occurred in June 2020 following the killing of an Oromo musician and activist.
Eskinder Nega, a journalist and the founder and leader of the opposition party Balderas for Genuine Democracy, who is part of the Amhara ethnic group was arrested in July 2020 and faces charges of inciting ethnic and religious conflict and illegally attempting to overthrow the Addis Ababa City Administration, as well as training a terrorist group related to the civil unrest that broke out following the assassination of Oromo activist and singer Hachalu Hundessa in June 2020. After more than a year in detention and following a trial with significant litigation concerning whether the identity of the prosecution witnesses should be kept confidential, Mr. Nega was released from detention and charges were dropped against him in January 2022.
Jawar Mohammed, an opposition leader and one of the founders of the Oromia Media Network, was arrested in June 2020 and faces a variety of charges, including inciting ethnic and religious conflict and terrorism offenses. Mohammad is part of the Oromo ethnic group. Similar to Mr. Nega, Mr. Mohammed was arrested following the civil unrest that broke out after the assassination of Oromo activist and singer Hachalu Hundessa in June 2020. As in the Naga case, many of the proceedings to date have concerned whether the prosecution should be permitted to conceal the identities of its witnesses. In January 2022, Mr. Mohammed was released from detention and the charges against him dropped.