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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2006 > January
Press Statement
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 6, 2006


Political Dissent and Due Process In Ethiopia

The United States remains gravely concerned by actions of the Government of Ethiopia in the cases of opposition, civil society, and media leaders, including five staff members of the Voice of America, charged with capital offenses. In a judicial hearing on January 5, the Ethiopian courts denied bail to, and refused to hear a statement by, the 131 individuals who had been charged on December 21. Thousands more Ethiopians arrested since early November remain detained without charge.

The United States calls on the Ethiopian Government to ensure a fair, transparent and speedy trial for those charged, and to charge or release promptly those who remain detained without charge. Those detained have the right to and should be granted unimpeded access to legal counsel and to their families.

A vibrant opposition, independent media, and a robust civil society are essential elements of any democracy. The United States looks to the Government of Ethiopia to provide the political space necessary for them to function. Steps that appear to criminalize dissent impede progress on democratization. Similarly, all sides must reject violence and abide by the rule of law.

Ethiopia is a valued partner for the United States. We commend the government and opposition parties in Parliament for their dialogue. We urge Government to continue its work with the opposition to ensure that the opposition can take its seats and manage the city of Addis Ababa, as well as effectively debate and legislate in the Parliament.

2006/22


Released on January 6, 2006

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