250/02 : Liesbeth Zegveld and Mussie Ephrem / Eritrea Summary of Facts 1. The complaint is filed by Dr Liesbeth Zegveld, an international lawyer at a Netherlands based firm Böhler Franken Koppe De Feijter, and Mr Mussie Ephrem, an Eritean living in Sweden. 2. The complainants allege that eleven (11) former Eritrean government officials, namely, Petros Solomon, Ogbe Abraha, Haile Woldetensae, Mahmud Ahmed Sheriffo, Berhane Ghebre Eghzabiher, Astier Feshation, Saleh Kekya, Hamid Himid, Estifanos Seyoum, Germano Nati and Beraki Ghebre th th Selassie were illegally arrested in Asmara, Eritrea on 18 and 19 September 2001 in violation of Eritrean laws and the African Charter. They were part of a group of fifteen (15) senior officials of the ruling Peoples’ Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) who had been openly critical of the Eritrean Government policies. In May 2001, they wrote an open letter to ruling party members criticising the government for acting in an ‘illegal and unconstitutional’ manner. Their letter also called upon “all PFDJ members and Eritrean people in general to express their opinion through legal and democratic means and to give their support to the goals and principles they consider just”. The government subsequently announced that the eleven individuals mentioned above, on whose behalf the present complaint is being filed, had been detained ‘because of crimes against the nation’s security and sovereignty’. 3. The complaint also alleges that the detainees could be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful expression of their political opinions. Their whereabouts is currently unknown. The Complainants allege that the detainees may be held in some management building between the capital Asmara and the port of Massawa. They have reportedly not been given access to their families or lawyers. The Complainants fear for the safety of the detainees. 4. The Complainants state that they have made a request for habeas corpus to the Minister of Justice of Eritrea. They claim that they could not submit the same to the courts, as the place of detention of the 11 former officials was unknown. They allege that in the habeas corpus the Eritrean authorities were asked, among others, to reveal where the 11 detainees were being held, to either charge and bring them to court or promptly release them, to guarantee that none of them would be ill treated and that they have immediate access to lawyers of their choice, their families and adequate medical care. The Complainants allege that no reaction has been received from the Eritrean authorities. 5. Together with their complaint the Complainants submitted a request for provisional measures to the African Commission in accordance with Article 111 of the Rules of Procedure of the African Commission. Complaint 6. The Complainants allege violations of Articles 2, 6, 7(1) and 9(2) of the African Charter. 7. The Complainants pray that should the detainees be tried, the trial should be held in accordance with international human rights standards and without recourse to the death penalty. They claim that such a trial should not be before the Special Court, which they allege fails to meet international standards of fair trial. Procedure th th 8. The complaint was dated 9 April 2002 and received at the Secretariat on 9 April 2002 by fax, th th and on 9 and 11 April 2002 by email. th 9. On 19 April 2002, the Secretariat wrote to the Complainants acknowledging receipt of the complaint, and informing them that their request for provisional measures was noted and would be acted upon accordingly. rd 10. On 3 May 2002, the African Commission wrote a letter of appeal to His Excellency Issayas Afewerki, President of the State of Eritrea, respectfully urging him to intervene in the matter being

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