HB (Ethiopia EDP/UEDP members) Ethiopia CG  UKIAT 00235
Date of hearing: 12 July 2004
Date Determination notified: 25 August 2004
|Secretary of State for the Home Department||RESPONDENT|
"I know they are after me and I was doing my political activities slowly and cautiously. Maybe they were trying to collect enough evidence."
The Adjudicator records in paragraph 21 of the determination the Appellant explaining in evidence that, after his release, his activities were carried out in a clandestine manner. He told the Adjudicator that he attended meetings on a monthly basis but made sure no one was following him. In paragraph 22 of a statement prepared by the Appellant and dated 3 November 2003, the Appellant's account of his involvement after his release in July 2001 was described in these terse terms:
"I continued to participate despite the governments threats. I have got a commitment to my nation and my people and I was ready to expose the government about its political incorrectness and about its Administration."
It is difficult for the Tribunal to deduce from this passage what the Appellant was actually doing.
Human Rights Violations. According to the US State Department Report, 2003, the government continued to arrest and detain persons arbitrarily, particularly those suspected of sympathising with or being members of the OLF. There are credible reports of widespread human rights abuses.
Treatment of Political Opposition. On 19 April 2001, one EDP member was shot and killed by security forces at his home and "about 40 EDP members were arrested", including the Secretary-General and one executive member. This was part of the student protests. Information on the EDP's website indicated that in April 2002, 23 EDP members were arrested and "some were released after they were told they will be shot in their heads if they organise any opposition."
Restriction on Human Rights Reporting. The government restricted freedom of the press and continued to harass, threaten, arrest and detain journalists.
Impunity of Security Forces. Security forces guilty of Human Rights violations were not held responsible by the government.
Absence of Judicial Oversight. Although nominally independent, the judicial process is subject to political pressure. The judicial process is flawed.
"c It illustrates the intrinsic difficulty in many asylum cases of obtaining reliable evidence of the facts giving rise to the fear of persecution, and the need for some flexibility in the application of Ladd v Marshall principles. "
The Court concluded:
"92. In relation to the role of the IAT, we have concluded
a. The Tribunal remained seized of the appeal, and therefore able to take account of new evidence, up until the time when the decision was formally notified to the parties;
b. Following the decision, when it was considering the applications for leave to appeal to this Court, it had a discretion to direct a re-hearing; this power was not dependent on its finding an arguable error of law in its original decision.
c. However, in exercising such discretion, the principle of finality would be important. To justify reopening the case, the IAT would normally need to be satisfied that there was a risk of serious injustice, because of something which had gone wrong at the hearing, or some important evidence which had been overlooked; and in considering whether to admit new evidence, it should be guided by Ladd v Marshall principles, subject to any exceptional factors."
"A further problem exists for the Appellant. As an active member of the London branch of the UEDP - an electoral alliance which the EDP entered into several years ago - his activities, and those of the UEDP will have been monitored by a Political Councillor at the Ethiopian Embassy in London. Embassy officials actively cultivate links with resident Ethiopians in England and actively monitor their political activities. Until recently this activity was co-ordinated by a Major in the Federal Police who was appointed to the Embassy between 1998-2000.
In the refusal letter, an assumption is made (paragraph 9) that because the EDP is a registered political party, that membership in it is protected by the Constitution. I would point out that even a cursory examination of human rights reports makes it clear that rank and file members and supporters (really, those suspected of supporting a party) are routinely harassed, arrested and detained for varying periods of time without being charged. Furthermore, a routine outcome of detention is mistreatment/torture."
"My mother informed me that they wanted to arrest me because they suspect I was still actively involved with the EDP."
However, no information is provided as to how the Appellant's mother came to know of the intention of the authorities or their motivation. In our view, the Adjudicator was not obliged to attach weight to such tenuous evidence.
Ethiopian Democratic Party
5.39 Political Parties of the World, updated January 2002 stated that, "The EDP was formed in 1998 following a split in the All Amhara People's Organization [AAPO]. It fielded 15 candidates for the federal House of People's Representatives in May 2000, winning two seats in Addis Ababa. Its policies included land reforms to benefit peasant farmers. EDP party members (including candidates in current local government elections) were among those targeted by the security forces in May 2001 in a campaign against 'political activists' following the violent suppression of student demonstrations in Addis Ababa".
United Ethiopian Democratic Party
5.40 IRIN news observed that the EDP has since joined forces with the Ethiopian Democratic Union Party to form the United Ethiopian Democratic Party (UEDP). Its leader Dr Admasu Gebeyehu said it had some 20,000 members and described it as 'one of the largest' political parties in the country.
5.41 The US State Department Human Rights Report 2003 noted that, "On September 30 , six policemen removed the national flag from the office of the United Ethiopia Democratic Party (UEDP) in Masha Woreda, Sheka Zone, Southern Region, and detained UEDP representative Berhanu Hailu in Masha police prison for 3 weeks. He was released after posting $580 (5,000 birr)".
5.42 The US State Department Human Rights Report 2003 noted that, "Some opposition political parties charged the Government with deliberately obstructing their attempts to hold public meetings. Local government officials granted the UEDP permission to conduct a conference in Mekelle on June 29 ; however, on the day of the conference, UEDP officials were told that the regional government needed the hall for an urgent meeting, and UEDP was denied its meeting venue".
5.43 The US report further noted that, "Two teachers in Masha Woreda were dismissed [from their jobs] for being members of UEDP".
"I do not find that the objective evidence supports the Appellant's claim that grass roots members of the UEDP are now being routinely harassed and targeted by the authorities. The only objective evidence in this respect that I have been referred to is at paragraph 5.20 of the CIPU report that states that there had been credible reports of violence against opposition members. This is a very general risk to all members of opposition parties. I do not find that this establishes that the Appellant with his particular profile, attending monthly meetings of the EDP clandestinely and giving financial support, is a real risk of persecution."
"The Appellant describes a pattern of arbitrary arrest and detention in which the focus of the authorities concern his membership in the EDP; the Appellant's political activities would have been known to security officials. There are numerous cases of security officials repeatedly visiting the home of a "suspect" at which time they harass and threaten (sometimes they also beat and arrest) the person and his/her family. Thousands of supporters of registered opposition political parties had been picked up, detained without charge, and released on warning/ bail. Frequently officials return to harass former detainees and their families, making life extremely difficult for such persons (in addition to detention, salaries and bank accounts are frozen, and individuals may be dismissed from government jobs, etc)."
"During this time, he has been actively involved in the activities of the Support Committee by discharging his responsibilities by way of attending meetings and paying his membership contribution."
"As an active member of the London branch of the UEDP… his activities… will have been monitored by a Political Councillor at the Ethiopian Embassy in London."
"The law requires citizens and residents to obtain an exit visa before departing the country."
The Appellant stated at page 9 his statement of 3 November 2003 that he entered the United Kingdom using a false passport because he could not obtain a legal passport from the Ethiopian authorities. He also said that he did not know the details of that passport because the agent held that passport at all times. In the course of his Screening Interview, however, the Appellant gave a somewhat different account:
"I did not see the name in the passport. The agent told me in case I was stopped to give my name. [Question: Was your picture in the passport?] Yes, because I have already given my picture. The agent told me to give my name and date of birth in case I was stopped. If the passport control ask your name, you can give them your name and date of birth."
Decision: The Appellant's appeal is dismissed.
13 August 2004
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