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The role of courts in the release of Jawar Mohammed, Eskinder Nega and TPLF officials


ADDIS ABABA, JANUARY 11, 2022 — Ethiopia's Federal Supreme Court released a statement with the intention to inform the public about the role of courts and the procedure followed in the proceeding held on Thursday January 6th, 2022 on three files of public interest, i.e. the cases under Jawar Mohammed, Eskinder Nega and Sibhat Nega, whereby the public prosecutor submitted withdrawal of charges.

Full Statement

Charges Withdrawn by the Public Prosecutor on January 6th, 2022

In the past three and half years Federal Courts have been relentlessly working to fulfill their constitutional mandate through various reform works. The reform works aimed at strengthening the independence and impartiality of the institution of the judiciary and of individual judges. Parallel to this, mechanisms are set in place to ensure the accountability of judges. All efforts made by the leadership, judges, and staff of Federal Courts are aimed at providing efficient, predictable, and accessible judicial service with the end goal of enhancing public trust on the judiciary.

By the end of January, the Federal Supreme Court will hold the Second 'State of the Judiciary' conference which among others will feature the findings of a Public Perception Survey conducted by an independent consulting firm. The preliminary findings of the Survey indicates that the service and accessibility of Federal Courts is showing an incremental progress.

Nevertheless, it is important to be cognizant of the fact that judicial service involve multiple actors and, similar to other public institutions, has numerous challenges accumulated from the past. Addressing these challenges takes time. It is impossible to resolve all problems of the institutions in few years' times. Yet, we are making progress and are accomplishing results.

Although the country is in constantly changing political situation and a conflict in the North, it is important to pay due regard for the status of the judiciary as the third branch of government and its role in the promotion and respect of rule of law, peace, and sustainable development. We hope that all concerned and interested actors will continue supporting the judiciary to effectively play its role.

This press release is made to inform the public about the role of courts and the procedure followed in the proceeding held on Thursday January 6th, 2022 on three files of public interest whereby the public prosecutor submitted withdrawal of charges.

In principle and in practice our courts and judges give due consideration in all civil and criminal cases filled either by individuals or the public prosecutor. Besides to this principle centered practice, in some cases in which the public has high interest or commonly designated by the judiciary as "cases under the scrutiny of the public", extra efforts and attention is given to expedite the proceedings.

In this regard notable examples worth mentioning in "cases under the scrutiny of the public" are decisions and orders given in relation to the public prosecutors or suspects/accused persons submissions on the 6th general election, medical services, personal needs, for and against the application of behind screen special measures in witness hearing, and etc. These decisions can be taken as indicators of the independence the Federal Judiciary is building. The decisions are available for further studies and can be used as inputs to develop legal jurisprudence.

On January 6th, 2022, the public prosecutor of the Ministry of Justice made a submission to the Federal High Court, Constitutional and Terrorism matters Criminal Bench informing the Bench that the prosecutor is making a partial and full withdrawal of charges on three files. The withdrawal of charges was informed to be made on the following files:

  • Public prosecutor v. Jawar Siraj Mohammed and others (Total number of accused persons-twenty), 
  • Public prosecutor v. Eskender Nega and others (Total number of accused persons-seven); and 
  • Public prosecutor v. Debretsion Gebremichael (Dr.) and others (on charges against six accused persons)

The Bench examined the submission in light of the applicable procedural law and the mandate of the public prosecutor under Proclamation No. 943/2016, Article 6(f) and granted permission for the withdrawal of charges and ordered the Federal Prison Administration to discharge the accused persons with the condition that "no new charge" is made against them.

The Court releases this press statement to create awareness on the legality of withdrawal of charges under the applicable criminal procedure laws of the country. The laws provide that with the permission of the court, the public prosecutor may before judgment, at any stage of the proceeding may withdraw any charge and the court giving due consideration for the reason shall grant the permission to the public prosecutor to withdraw the charge.

Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia

January 10th, 2022


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