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Ethiopia: World Bank Translator, Activists Face Trial

Pastor Omot Agwa was charged by Ethiopian authorities under the anti-terrorism law after being detained for nearly six months.

(Nairobi) Human Rights Watch– Ethiopian authorities should immediately drop all charges and release a former World Bank translator and two other local activists charged under Ethiopia’s repressive counterterrorism law after trying to attend a workshop on food security in Nairobi, six international development and human rights groups said today.

Pastor Omot Agwa was charged by Ethiopian authorities under the anti-terrorism law after being detained for nearly six months.  On September 7, 2015, the authorities charged Pastor Omot Agwa, Ashinie Astin, and Jamal Oumar Hojele under the counterterrorism law after detaining them for nearly six months. The charge sheet refers to the food security workshop, which was organized by an indigenous rights group and two international organizations, as a “terrorist group meeting.” The three were arrested on March 15 with four others while en route to the workshop in Nairobi, Kenya. Three were released without charge on April 24, and a fourth on June 26.

Omot, of the evangelical Mekane Yesus church in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, was an interpreter for the World Bank Inspection Panel’s 2014 investigation of a complaint by the Anuak indigenous people alleging widespread forced displacement and other serious human rights violations in relation to a World Bank project in Gambella. He had raised concerns with workshop organizers about increasing threats from Ethiopian security officials in the weeks before his arrest. Read more



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