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Many people are also arrested and detained for shorter periods of several weeks or months. In early 1979 a number of doctors were detained apparently for criticizing the government's failure to provide proper medical assistance to halt the cholera epidemic in eastern Zaire. In February 1979 students went on strike and demanded improvements in their standard of living and changes in the university administration. The government responded by ordering the arrest of suspected student leaders in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. A number of students are reported to have been seriously injured when the army opened fire on a student demonstration in Kinshasa.
In July 1978 President Mobutu granted an amnesty for prisoners who had committed offenses against state security. The Zairean press subsequently claimed that there were no longer any political prisoners in Zaire. However, in fact almost 50 sentenced political prisoners are believed to be still in prison for their alleged roles in conspiracies against the government in 1975 and 1978.
In June 1975 President Mobutu announced that a plot had been discovered to overthrow him as Head of State. Between June and August 1975 more than 40 soldiers and civilians were arrested in connection with this conspiracy and 41 people went on trial before a military court. Thirty-two of the defendants were convicted of offenses including treason, conspiracy, regionalism, fraud and insubordination. Seven prisoners were condemned to death, but the sentences have not been ried out; the other prisoners were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from six months to 20 years. Both soldiers and civilians alike were tried by a six-man military tribunal. The proceedings of the court were held in camera (huis clos) allegedly for security reasons, and the defendants were allocated defense lawyers by the authorities and were not able to choose their own lawyers. The convicted prisoners have not been able to appeal against their sentences. (Note: On October 15, 1979, President Mobutu granted an amnesty to the prisoners convicted in the 1975 trial and they were then released.)
In February 1978, the discovery of another plot was reported and almost 250 people, mostly members of the armed forces, were detained. In March 1978, 79 of those arrested-62 soldiers and 17 civilians-went on trial before a military court in Kinshasa. At the same time five other persons were tried in absentia. The trial was held in open court and the defendants appear to have been defended by lawyers of their own choice. The evidence for the existence of a conspiracy against President Mobutu and a plan to disrupt Zaire's economy was insubstantial. It was in addition based almost entirely on the alleged confession of one of the prisoners, Major Kalume Hamba. Several prisoners were eventually convicted of conspiracy because they were present at meetings in a particular bar or at a church service held to commemorate the death of one of Major Kalume's colleagues. This evidence was accepted by the military judges when they convicted 70 of the defendants on March 16, 1978. The court delivered 19 death sentences, including five in absentia, and 21 people received sentences of between five and 20 years. Thirty others were given shorter sentences.
On the day after the sentences were passed 13 of those sentenced to death were executed by firing squad. They had no opportunity to appeal against their sentences. Out of the remaining prisoners, 26 are believed to be still in prison.
In the cases of both these alleged conspiracies, the prosecution's evidence has depended almost entirely on “confessions” made by one of the prisoners. In both cases civilians who were alleged to have been plotting with members of the armed forces were tried by a military court under military law. The military judges took little or no notice of the defense cases presented at these two trials and Amnesty International believes that they were “show trials.” In both cases the soldiers who were convicted originated from the south and east of the country and their removal from the armed forces has bolstered the power of officers from President Mobutu's own region, Equateur province. In addition, some of the prisoners appear to have been convicted for political reasons which had nothing to do with the alleged conspiracies; their marriages to wives of non-Zairean nationality, their membership of particular religious sects or their rivalry with high government officials.
Torture and cruel treatment are reported to be used both during interrogations and in order to punish prisoners. Torture usually takes the form of severe beatings but is also reported to include amputation and physical disfigurement. Torture has been reported to take place at the headquarters of the Centre National de Documentation (CND) in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi and also at several military camps in Kinshasa ; it is also reported from other parts of the country. At Eka fera prison camp, near Befale in Equateur province, detainees are reported to be subjected to regular beatings and prisoners who try to escape and are recaptured are known to have been punished by having their fingers and toes smashed with a hammer and have then been left to die from starvation.
Conditions of imprisonment for political prisoners are extremely harsh. The regulations which officially govern the treatment of prisoners in Zaïre do not appear to be respected and conditions in most cases fall far short of those outlined in the United Nations "Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners." Conditions are reported to be particularly harsh at Angenga military prison, near Lisala in Equateur province, and at Ekafera prison camp. In both cases prisoners are cut off from the outside world and are not allowed to receive letters or visitors. They have to grow their own food and subsist on an extremely poor diet. Medical facilities are almost non-existent. Harsh conditions of imprisonment are known to result in a high mortality rate among prisoners. For example, during 1978 many of the 1300 detainees who were sent to Lokandu military camp, near Kindu in Kivu province, following the second FLNC rebellion in Shaba province, died from either malnutrition or disease.
The death penalty is imposed for both political and criminal offenses. It is imposed by normal courts and also by summary military courts. For example, in January 1978, 14 people were publicly hanged after summary trials at Idiofa in Bandundu province for allegedly participating in a rebellion against the government. Several hundred others were also reported to have been summarily executed in the same area during January and February 1978. In March 1978, 13 people were executed by firing squad immediately after their trial on charges of conspiracy. Executions occurred after both the wars in Shaba province, in 1977 and 1978, and when political exiles returned to Zaïre from Angola following President Mobutu's announcement of an amnesty in June 1978, a number are reported to have been summarily executed. Ethiopia
The consistent pattern of gross violation of fundamental rights in Ethiopia has been a subject of an AI submission to the UN Commission on Human Rights. The situation has altered somewhat since 1978 but is still very serious.
An unknown but reportedly very large number of political prisoners have been held in untried detention, many since 1974. In political terms, these prisoners cover a wide spectrum. They include members of the former Imperial family, members of the former government and administration, their wives and children, and the widows of some men executed without trial in 1974; people who were politically involved in the first stages of the Revolution but criticized the subsequent rule by the Derg; Eritreans and members of other "nationalities" who opposed the Derg's political and military actions; civilians and members of the armed forces opposing measures undertaken by the Derg; members of the illegal Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP); members of the AllEthiopia Socialist Movement (MEISON) and political cadres associated with it (including officials of the All Ethiopian Trade Union, Provisional Office for Mass Organisation Affairs, kebelle and peasant associations ;) and other political groupings associated with the Derg, but involved in conflicts over the formation of a civilian political party to replace military rule.
One new target of political persecution in 1978/79 was the mainly Oromobased Mekane Yesus Church, which is a member of the Lutheran World Federation and the largest protestant church in Ethiopia outside the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. There had been isolated reports of arrests of members of this church early in 1978, when 16 girls of a Mekane Yesus Church choir were arrested for refusing to sing revolutionary songs. On 11 October the head of the Church, Reverend Gudina Tumsa, was arrested in Addis Ababa, together with several other prominent Oromos. Reverend Tumsa was released unharmed after three weeks, but the fate of the others is unknown.
However a new “development and cultural revolution campaign” appears to have been the occasion of more systematic persecution of members of this church, and other, smaller protestant churches in the regions of Bale, Sidamo and Gemu Goffa from December 1978, and especially at the time of the celebration of the Ethiopian Christmas (7 January). Believers were arrested and forced to undergo political instruction, which involved denial of their religious beliefs and rituals-for example being compelled to sing revolutionary songs in church, being prevented from attending services or worshipping in groups at home. Torture was also reported, and threats of death if the political “rehabilitation" was not satisfactorily completed within a given period of time. Some
church offices were taken over and converted for peasant and kebelle association use. These incidents are reliably reported to have taken place in several localities (especially in a church centre near Arba Minch, capital of Gemu Goffa), although the church has never been involved in political opposition to the Derg and has cooperated with kebelle and peasant associations in support of the Revolution. In February 1979, about 20 members of Mekane Yesus church were arrested in Bolissoa (about 20 kms from Addis Ababa) and reportedly forced under torture to sign promises not to participate in church services. On 1 May 1979 six young church members were arrested in Addis Ababa and in Backo near Addis Ababa for refusing to shout revolutionary slogans in order to obtain a certain administrative permit. One incident of the burning of bibles was also reported.
Torture was systematically used in the government's “Red terror" campaign against the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Party (EPRP) in late 1977 and early 1978 in Addis Ababa. Some torture, which includes "falanga", is still reported. In 1979 many cases of this type were reported against members of independent protestant churches, who were subject to short term arrest and torture.
Large-scale political killings have occurred on a number of occasions, in 1977-78 in Addis Ababa, in 1979 in Dire Dawa, and at other times in areas of armed conflict. Information on the killing of political prisoners is difficult to obtain or confirm, and it is still not known whether the 26 former imperial officials who disappeared in August were killed on government orders or transferred secretly to a rural detention camp. Reverend Gudina Tumsa of the Mekane Yesus Church, mentioned above, has also “disappea red” since his abduction by armed men in July 1979.
There has been little improvement in the prison conditions since AI last testified before the International Organization's Subcommittee in 1977. Former imperial officials are still held in the Menelik Palace cellars, and about a dozen have died since 1977 partly as a result of the damp, unsanitary underground conditions, and their consequent respiratory, gastric, opthalmic and hypertension disorders. For the vast number of other prisoners the problems remain overcrowding, lack of hygienic and medical facilities, and harsh treatment in prison.
Amnesty International's reports have been met with government statements accusing the organization of hostile, distorted and counter-revolutionary propaganda. No Ethiopian embassy has been willing to meet Amnesty International and there is no prospect of a mission to the country taking place which would enable direct discussion with the government. Zimbabwe/Rhodesia
The human rights situation has deteriorated significantly since the April elections, and the formation of the Muzorewa government in June. Major human rights problems of past years remain, and have been intensified since the introduction of martial law in September 1978, which resulted in still greater use of detention, more rigorous conditions of imprisonment, widespread torture, a further drastic erosion of judicial safeguards during trials, and the increased use of the death penalty.
Detention without a trial has been extensively used since UDI under Emergency Powers Regulations which provide for short-term detention (30 or 60 days) for interrogation, and long term indefinite detention for preventive purposes. The number of long-term detainees, now about 100, is much diminished since the internal settlement in March 1978 when it stood at 950. However this is due less to any overall improvement but to the government's preference for martial law provisions which permit indefinite detention, virtually incommunicado. Latest estimates suggest that there are between 8,000 to 15,000 martial law detainees, who include many women and children.
The use of torture has been a long-standing problem in Rhodesia but now, with the deteriorating security situation and with powers of detention having been extended under martial law to all members of the security forces and those assisting them, it has reached epidemic proportions. Many reports have been received in recent months which suggest that in areas such as Belingwe. Gwanda and Bikita, large numbers of civilians, including many children and young people, have been rounded up, taken to police or military camps and systematically tortured by the security forces in an attempt to obtain information about the movements and activities of nationalist guerrillas. However, the purpose appears to be not merely the obtaining of information about guerrilla activities but general intimidation of the rural population.
Political trials take place not only in the high courts, but also before special courts established under martial law, which are presided over by military not
judicial officers, and which have sentencing powers equal to those of superior courts. In no case known to Amnesty International has a defendent before a martial law court been permitted legal representation, even though the death penalty is imposed by these courts for a wide range of offenses. These death sentences are not subject to judicial review, but are considered by a special review authority, whose members are not publicly named, which meets in camera. Martial law executions continue, but it is impossible to estimate their number because of the secrecy which surrounds them. There was, however, a report of 27 hangings in June. Very few political prisoners have been released since the Muzorewa government took office, despite the suggestion made in his election manifesto that wholesale release would take place. The total number of sentenced political prisoners is probably now 1,500. Cameroon
While the number of prisoners is considerably smaller than in for example, Ethiopia or Zimbabwe, there are nonetheless significant problems. Some 200 to 300 untried detainees are held in “administrative detention centers", which are run not by a prison service but by special security agencies under direct presidential control.
Since independence in 1960, many constitutional rights have been satisfied by continuing states of emergency, which give the executive branch virtually unlimited powers of arrest and detention with little reference to the legal system. In addition, legislation gives military tribunals jurisdiction for most "political" offenses, in many instances without adequate rights of defense or appeal.
Allegations of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners have been made on a number of occasions to Amnesty International. It appears that security agencies such as the Direction de la Documentation (DIRDOC) and the Brigade Mobile use torture and beating with the intention both of obtaining information and also intimidating popular opposition. Within detention camps, por diet, bad hygiene, overcrowding and denial of visits or letters are reported. Particularly cited is Tchollire re-education camp.
Article 320 of the Penal Code provides for the death sentence for certain criminal offenses, and it was reported in late 1978 that 48 prisoners were then awaiting execution at Yaondunde prison, although executions have not in fact been reported either since then, or in previous years. South Africa
The complexity and range of legislative weapons used by the South African government to detain opponents of apartheid will be well known to members. During 1979, in contrast with apparent reforms in the area of trade union rights and in the law affecting mixed marriages, there has been a further deterioration in the human rights situation.
One of the principle issues has been the detention of state witnesses in political trials. In 1978, the Criminal Procedures Matters Amendment Act increased security police powers to detain potential state witnesses in trials under the Terrorist Act. Even before this police could hold witnesses incommunicado for up to 180 days. However, even this limit is now removed and a witness may be held until the trial in which he is to appear is ended. At the trial of 18 alleged Pan Africanist Congress members in Bethel, more than 160 people were due to be called as state witnesses; many were detained, some having been arrested in late 1976: the trial continued into 1979. Such detention must inevitably be seen as coercion. The Inquests Act has also been amended to prevent the type of press reporting of violent death which took place at the time of Steve Biko's death. This will effectively prevent comment when a detainee dies in police custody.
The past year has seen the banning of released detainees on a much more concerted scale than before. More than 20 political detainees released in the last quarter of 1978 and in the first month of 1979 were immediately restricted under 5 year banning orders. They included detainees who had been held without charge for periods of more than one year, first under the Terrorism Act and subsequently under the Internal Security Act. One such was Peter Jones, the Black Consciousness activist detained with Biko in August 1977.
The number of political prisoners on Robben Island and at other maximum security prisons has continued to rise accompanied by increased tension between prisoners and guards. Many serving long sentences on Robben Island are young people, and until 1977 it was possible for these prisoners to study. However, the prison authority have now decided that political prisoners may not study beyond
matriculation level, although sentenced criminal prisoners may take advanced courses. Equally, normal remission of sentence is denied to political prisoners.
There has also been an increase in the number of death sentences imposed and carried out in South Africa. During 1978, 132 hangings took place at Pretoria prison and the total for this year may well be higher. Most were convicted of criminal offenses; however, the execution of Solomon Mahlangu in April was the first execution for what was clearly a politically motivated offense to take place since the 1960's. Monitoring human rights violations
Before turning to the important question of regional and international remedies, we have been asked to describe how AI gathers information. We would also like to indicate some of the factors which may influence human rights reporting.
The first requirement of any human rights assessment is precise, factual information on specific violations. Al's Research Department, which is based in London, consists of 60 professional and secretarial staff ; the researchers are appointed for their knowledge of a particular country or region, linguistic skills, and the ability to arrive at objective judgements on the basis of material gathered from a wide variety of public and private sources, few of whom will be entirely disinterested. Al's research is set within the narrow focus of the organization's mandate. It identifies individual prisoners of conscience, obtains and assesses reports of torture on an individual as well as a systemic basis, it examines political and legal systems as they affect political imprisonment, prepares country reports both for publication and for submission to the United Nations human rights machinery ; the researchers organize missions to particular countries and design public and diplomatic initiatives for the release of prisoners, the abolition of the death penalty and the reform of legal procedures and prison conditions.
Sources of information will vary from country to country; they will normally include such public material as press reports, texts of laws and decrees, UN and other international organization reports, and unpublished testimony from relatives of victims, former prisoners, lawyers, opposition groups, church people, journalists, and academics.
Compared with other research areas, the collection of information on human rights violations encounters particular difficulties. Research will inevitably focus on the point of conflict between a government and its critics, both of whom have an interest in presenting their own point of view. The bias of a political movement is usually obvious, but that of a government is equally dangerous. To a far greater degree than in other areas, governments are not objective sources for information on domestic human rights questions. Indeed, in most instances where political prisoners are detained, the provision of data about their identity and treatment will seem to run directly counter to the national interest. The natural tendency of any government is to discourage information which would harm its reputation. Indeed, since the passage of legislation linking the receipt of U.S. aid to human rights observance, a bad reputation in this area can cause the loss of economic or military assistance.
Information on human rights violations must therefore be sought in other ways. It is our experience that a number of factors will influence the process of information collection for a particular country. Where all are absent, as in Ethiopia or Guinea, it will be extremely difficult to establish the existence and extent of violations with any precision.
1. Whether there erists a popular awareness of the eristence of human rights, and an expectation that basic rights should not be violated.--This is as much a cultural as a legal factor. Both awareness and expectation will, however, be most commonly found in societies with developed legal structures, and be most absent in those where legal institutions are rudimentary or used capriciously by the head of State. Those societies in which official use of torture has the longest history tend to be those where the individual citizens does not know, or believe that he has a right not to be so treated.
2. Whether an individual citizen can be confident that to report a viotanion will not itself lead to further reprisals.- Where an individual believes that the legal system will not protect him, and informal remedies such as press reporting or aid from non-governmental institutions are non-existent, he will have no incentive to report the fact that a relative has been arrested or that he himself has peen tortured. Indeed the converse may apply. He may avoid reporting in the neliet that this would simply bring a repetition of the violation. It follows that torture will be most reliably reported if : (a) the right not to be tortured is generally