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Birtukan Mideksa and the law

Chairperson of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party, Birtukan Mideksa was re-arrested six months ago after the pardon given to her was revoked. She is still behind the bars, where she isn’t allowed to any visitor other than her mother and her five-year-old girl. This article by Professor Mesfin Wolde-Mariam that appeared in the party’s newly published magazine, Tsinat states the condition of Bertuakn’s arrest which the author says has no valid legal reason and violates the provision provided in the proclamation.

To provide for the procedure of granting pardon Article 12 states the following proclamation No .395/2004,
12 Application for pardon- Any person who is convicted and sentenced by a Court may, unless the granting of pardon is prohibited by law, apply for pardon in person or through his spouse, close relatives, representative or lawyer.
The statement that Birtuakn is supposed to have made while she was visiting Sweden as far as I could verify from people who heard her directly, and from evidence of audio recording is completely consistent with what is stated in (1).
The proclamation further provides:
2) Without prejudice to the provision herein, the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Prison Commission may apply for pardon for person entitled to it. Where the office decides to apply for pardon, it shall deliver a copy of the application letter to the person in whose favor it is to be made.
Neither Bertuakn nor her imprisoned colleagues received any copy of the application letter either from the Ministry of Justice or the Federal Prison Commission.
The statement that Bertukan made is absolutely consistent with the facts as stated above.
Birtuakna Mideksa, a lawyer by training, started her career as a judge in one of the courts in Addis Ababa. As luck would have it, Siyye Abarah was detained in the notorious Maekelawi and was brought to her court on a charge of corruption. Siyye was no ordinary man. He was one of the top leaders of the TPLF. He was Minster of Defense. He was arrested in 1992 with all his brothers and one sister. Corruption had been taken as family affair. Siyye was acquitted after six in prison.
When Judge Birtuakn Mideksa heard the charges against Siyye, she ruled that he should be released on bail immediately. The police rearrested him outside the court, very much like what the South African police were doing during the apartheid era. Judge Birtuakn insisted on the release of Siyye. The regime that failed to cow down the young judge felt obliged to twist the law. It passed a piece of legislation within twenty-four hours barring bail for suspected corruption charges, making the new law operate new retroactively. Whatever the consequences, Bertukan become famous in a country where people were extremely eager to see a courageous judge. But precisely because she took the law seriously and courageously, she became unexpectedly famous as the judge who stood stubbornly for the rule of law. She could not pursue her career on the bench. She became a lawyer instead.
So when Birtuakn joined politics in 2005, she was already a famous person. She became the First Vice President of CUD (coalition for Unity and Democracy), and later, when CUD broke up, she was elected as the president of UDJ (Unity for Democracy and Justice).She was serving in the capacity when the regime, which already knew that Birtuakn is a tough nut to crack, hurriedly sent her back to jail.
What did Birtuakn do to be sent to jail? NOTHING! Moreover, the proclamation (No. 395/2004) specifies the reasons for the revocation of pardon of pardon as follows:
16. Revocation of pardon
1) A decision for pardon may be revoked for sufficient reasons before it is delivered and accepted by the grantee.
2) A pardon delivered to and accepted by the grantee shall be of no effect on grounds of fraud or deceit.
3) The decision of pardon shall be of no effect if it is known that the condition for its granting has not been met
4) When the decision of pardon is rendered ineffective under sections (2) or (3) of the article, the Baored shall order the return of the grantee to the place where he was before he obtained it.
Obviously, none of the reasons stated in 1/2/ and 3 applies to Birtuakn. She is a person who has a very deep respect for the law.
There cannot be any suspicion of fraud or deceit. She has certainly not violated any condition of the pardon she received.
Even if there were any valid legal reason for revoking the pardon, the provision provided in the proclamation has not been met.
17. Procedure Required for Revocation
1/ When a cause for revocation of pardon exists, the grantee shall be furnished with a written notice of such cause in a language he understand clearly.
2/ The grantee may, within twenty days from the day of receipt of such notice, submit his reply against it.
Neither of these two procedures were applied in accordance with the law in the case of Birtuakn Mideksa.
Furthermore, the fact that she is held in solitary confinement and the fact that she is not allowed to any visitors other than her mother and her four-year-old daughter are additional extrajudicial measures taken against Birtukan. Even after the court ruled that she, like all other prisoners, has a right to visitors, the prison authorities have not yet complied with the ruling.
When the law becomes an expedient instrument of policy, it ceases to be just: it ceases to be predictable: it ceases to be a factor of stability. The law must be equally to all citizens who have a right to rely the law in their daily lives. The law is the foundation for social, political and economic stability.
Source: Tsinat, a monthly magazine prepared by UDJ Vol 1, no 1, Sene 2001 (June 2009)

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. ETENU
    June 24, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    GOD BLESS AND KEEP YOU WELL BIRTUKAN. YOU WILL BE FREE ONE DAY. YOU ARE COURAGEOUS AND THE TRUTH WILL PREVAIL, MY DAD USE TO SAY THE TRUTH IS LIKE A PIECE OF CORK, YOU THROW IT ON THE WATER IT WILL ALWAYS FLOAT. DICTATORS WILL ALWAYS BE BROUGHT DOWN, IT IS A MATTER OF TIME.

  1. June 24, 2009 at 1:09 pm

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