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  • NEWS IN BRIEF 31 Dec 2016



    Corporation to build, manage sugar factories in joint venture deal

    The Ethiopian Sugar Corporation (ESC) mulls over building and managing sugar factories in joint venture with local and foreign investors.

    “Currently, we are negotiating with many investors to partner in the construction and management of the existing as well as the new sugar factories,” Gashaw Aychiluhim, corporate communications officer at ESC, told FBC.

    “Memorandums of understating have also been signed with some investors,” he said.

    Gashaw, the joint venture deal will in particular boost the implementation and financial capacities of the corporation in the execution of the new sugar factories, Gashaw said.

    The joint venture might have various forms, but it included among others, developing sugarcane plantation and supplying it to sugar factories as well as producing ethanol fuel, he said.

    The agreement concluded with Amibara Agricultural Development PLC, which allows the company to supply sugarcane by developing on 6,000 hectares of land, is yielding result, he said.

    After the government’s move to execute sugar projects in joint venture deal, foreign investors have been showing interest. (FBC)

    WB funds USD 100 mln for refugee project in Ethiopia

    A new World Bank (WB) funded project promises improved living conditions for refugees camped across five regional states in Ethiopia.

    The Bank offered 100 million USD to implement "Development Response to Displacement Impact Project (DRDIP) In the Horn of Africa."

    Refugees sheltered in Afar, Tigray, Gambella, Benishangul-Gumuz and Somali states, the five regional states hosting the refugees, and the host community will benefit from a range of development activities implemented by the funding.

    The projects are believed to increase the benefit of the community from socio-economic as well as infrastructural facilities, according to Dr. Misrak Mekonnen, State Minister of Livestock and Fisheries.

    Speaking during project launching event in the town of Semera in Afar, the state minister mentioned setbacks that emerge from lack of infrastructure in many of the host states and the impact of increasing refugee population on the local community.

    The effective implementation of the projects will raise the benefit enjoyed by locals, for which she advised stakeholders to work in close cooperation. (Web Relief)

    Maritime academy expands to advance training

    With the successful completion of its expansion project, the Babogaya Maritime and Logistics Academy is planning to increase its enrollment capacity and advance its training standards, according to the Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise.

    The academy expansion project which consumed 44 million birr in three years time was inaugurated on Friday.

    The academy, with a capacity to enroll 160 trainees at a time, will start enrolling trainees in fields of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

    Speaking at the inaugural event, Ahmed Shide, Minister of Transport and Board Chairperson of Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise, appreciated the enterprise for the work it rendered in upgrading the academy to promote better services in the sector.

    The academy was jointly established by the Ministry of Transport and Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise.

    The implementation of Babogaya Maritime and Logistics Academy project is expected to play a key role in narrowing the human resource gap currently observed in the sector, the Minister noted. (ENA)

    Car accident leaves 18 dead in east Hararge

    Eighteen people were killed and 31 others injured in a car accident in Meta woreda, east Hararge zone, Oromia Regional State, on Thursday.

    Deputy Commander Seyoum Degefu, head of east Hararge zone police department communication affairs division, said that the accident occurred as an Isuzu truck skidded off the road at a place called Doke.

    The truck was heading to Chelenko town from Wiberi, a rural village, after carrying 49 people, he said.

    The accident claimed the lives of 18 people, including seven women. Some 31 people also sustained minor and serious injuries, he said.

    The driver of the car escaped unhurt and fled the scene, the deputy commander said. Police is searching the driver to investigate the exact cause of the accident, according to the deputy commander.

    Those injured in the accident were taken to Dil Chora and Hiwot Hospitals in Dire Dawa and Harar towns, respectively.

    Ethiopia is one of the 25 countries with the highest car-crash fatality rates. (FBC)

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    Dr. Fikru Maru, the high-profile cardiologist who was convicted on corruption charges, was indicted along with 37 other suspects for starting the deadly fire that broke out in the Qilinto federal penitentiary on September 3 that led to the death of 23 inmates and razed property worth 15 million Birr.

    In a charge filed with the 19th Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court the federal Attorney General accused the suspects of violating Articles 32 and 38 of the Revised Criminal Code as well as Article 3 of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009. The indictment states that the defendants were under custody on charges of carrying out the mission given to them by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Ginbot 7 and Al-Shabaab, groups designated as terrorists by Parliament, with the aim of pressuring the government.

    The charge further reads that the defendants, intent on instigating a riot inside Qilinto so as to break out and join the terror groups, had engaged beginning January 2016 in recruiting and organizing inmates for said purpose.  It accuses the suspects of raising money from abroad and prisoners jailed in local prisons to finance what they called the “terror and gang group”, a group comprised of inmates charged with serious offences, to perpetrate the riot.

    Dr. Fikru, 66, is accused of financing the “terror and gang group” to the tune of 70,000 Birr and giving instructions to the group to carry out the insurrection. The group is said to have organized the defendants under cells and exchanged information through encrypted codes. Though it had planned to set off the riot in March 2016, it put off its plans because members of the OLF and Ginbot 7 who were anticipated to join Qilinto as inmates did not, according to the charge.

    The defendants allegedly conspired to murder inmates they suspected of ratting on them to prison authorities and beat them to death with steel bars. They then abducted and disarmed prison officers who were conducting a routine a head count, freed prisoners and set prison cells on fire.

    Dr. Fikru, the part-owner of Addis Cardiac Medical Center was sentenced to 4 years and eight months for corruption following a trial in which he was co-defendant with Melaku Fenta, the former Director General of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority,


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  • Ethiopian women face new threat of human trafficking as economic gains slow to trickle down

    Ethiopian women face new threat of human trafficking as economic gains slow to trickle down

    Women in Ethiopia live under constant fear of violence, illness, hunger and poverty but they are now also facing a new threat - human trafficking, according to veteran women's rights campaigner Bogaletch Gebre.

    Although a state-led industrial drive has transformed Ethiopia into one of Africa's fastest-growing economies, a third of its 99 million citizens still survive on less than $1.90 a day - the World Bank's measure of extreme poverty.

    Girls are often regarded as a financial burden on their families in the Horn of Africa country long blighted by cycles of disease, drought, hunger and conflict, and expected to drop out of school to get married or find employment.

    "When a child is born a girl in Ethiopia ... she is born into servitude. She is literally there to serve the family," Gebre said, as she recalled growing up in the 1960s in Kembatta, southern Ethiopia. "It's a tragedy."

    In the past decade, human traffickers have increasingly lured girls away from their schools and homes in poor, rural areas with the promise of jobs and other opportunities in cities like the capital Addis Ababa, Gebre said.

    But many ended up being exploited as maids and sex workers.

    Because prostitution is taboo in Ethiopia, especially in the rural areas where most of the trafficked girls come from, many find themselves ostracized if they return.

    More here 


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  • Reports of torture in Kaliti and Konso prisons

    Reports of torture in Kaliti and Konso prisons

    ESAT News (February 03, 2016)

    The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa reports torture of inmates in the notorious Kality Prison, on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa. The prisoners, who hail from the Oromia region of Ethiopia and detained after taking part in the recent protest in the region were reportedly made to strip and brutally beaten by the prison guards.

    The League in a report said the torture was committed under the command of the head of the prison by the name Gebregziabher and had lasted for 3 hours. The inmates were seen bleeding while being taken to their dark cells with no natural or electric light. Kedir Zinabu, Abdisa Iffa, Abdi Biru, Banti Degefa, Dejazmach Beyana, and Husien Abdurahman were some of the prisoners mentioned in the League’s report. The whereabouts of Husien Abdurahman is not known after being separated from the rest of the pack following the torture.

    Meanwhile residents of Konso, in southern Ethiopia said federal forces are detaining people en masse following the recent protest by the people of Konso demanding self-administration. The residents told ESAT that the detainees were beaten severely by the federal police that was sent to the area by the regime in Addis to quell the protest in the south. At the check point of the town, security forces were checking the names of people against a list of 250 people being sought to be arrested by the federal police. Those who took part in the protest and demanded self-administration were labeled by the ruling TPLF as members of opposition political groups, namely Patriotic Ginbot 7 and Oromo Liberation Front.

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  • Court throws out Zone 9 terror charges

    Court throws out Zone 9 terror charges

    By Tamiru Tsige and Mikias Sebsibe

    After nearly a year-and-half of protracted criminal proceeding, the Federal High Court has acquitted five bloggers from terrorism charges without them having to defend the accusations.

    In a verdict delivered on Friday, the three panel judges held that the evidences presented by the federal prosecutors were not adequate enough to establish a prima-facie case that warrants a defense.

    The court heard the testimony of 18 witnesses brought in by the prosecution and examined documentary, audio and video evidences before reaching at its verdict. 

    All of the prosecution’s witnesses were secondary witnesses who merely testified as to the manner investigators gathered evidence, an issue which was not contested by the defense team. The court found that all of the evidences did not substantiate the prosecution’s terror charges which accused the defendants of having clandestine links with Ginbot 7, a group designated as terrorist by parliament.  

    The verdict meant that all of the bloggers could walk free with the exception of Befeqadu Hailu, a blogger of the Zone 9 collective. Instead of the terror charges, the court ordered Befeqadu to defend charges of inciting violence under the criminal code.

    Ameha Mekonnen, lawyer of Befeqadu, appealed for his client to be released on bail following the changes in accusation. Under the country’s criminal law, the right to bail is not granted to terrorism suspects whereas those charged under incitement can appeal for bail right. The court will reconvene on Wednesday to rule on the issue of bail.

    Aggrieved by the court’s verdict, federal prosecutor Berhanu Wondimagegnehu told The Reporter that they will appeal the decision. 

    In April 2014, authorities arrested three journalists and six bloggers in a span of 24 hours initially accusing them of working with “so-called international human rights organizations”. The accusation later changed to terrorism. 

    Last July, the Ministry of Justice unexpectedly withdrew the terror charges against five of the defendants including journalists Tesfalem Waldyes, Asmamaw Hailegiorgis, Edom Kassaye and bloggers Zelalem Kibret and Mahlet Fantahun who were also present during Friday’s hearing.

    The acquittal of the bloggers on Friday was greeted with tears of joy and relief among families and friends that packed the courtroom at Lideta which was also attended by diplomats.

    Soon after their arrest, the Zone 9 case gained a sustained online campaign and caught the attention of international human rights organizations calling for the release of the defendants. It also prompted a response from the US government as well as Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn who was pressed with the issue in several of his exclusive interviews with foreign media.

    Among the bloggers acquitted on Friday is Soliyana Shimeles who was charged in absentia.

    “Done with the Hashtag #FreeZone9Bloggers,” tweeted Soliyana from her exile in the US after following the verdict on social media.

    “The full celebration will happen when we see them out and talk to them in person,” she said in another tweet. 

    Although the court has issued an order for the Federal Prison Administration to release the defendants, they remain in custody until our press time on Friday 7:00 PM.

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