Dominic Grieve leads cross party call for death row Brit’s return

February 16, 2017

A former Attorney General, Lord Chancellor and Director of Public Prosecutions have written to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urging him to reconsider his approach to a British father on death row in Ethiopia.

Conservative MP Dominic Grieve, Labour Lord (Charlie) Falconer and Lib Dem peer Ken MacDonald have signed a joint letter raising concerns about Andy Tsege, a British father of three from London.

Mr Tsege has been held under sentence of death since he was kidnapped and illegally rendered to Ethiopia by the country’s forces in 2014.

The trio, who are all QCs, criticise the Foreign Office’s approach to Mr Tsege’s case, which has focused on requesting a lawyer for Mr Tsege rather than seeking his return to the UK.

In the letter, the authors said that “The British Government’s emphasis on securing Mr Tsege a lawyer ignores statements by the Ethiopian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister confirming that ‘there is no appeal process’ available to Mr Tsege”.

“If there is no legal remedy available to Mr Tsege, it is hard to see how legal representation will help him in any way”, they add.

Boris Johnson has refused to call for Mr Tsege’s release, claiming that the British government does not interfere in foreign judicial proceedings.

However, the letter points out that “there are several recent examples in which the Government has intervened and sometimes been able to secure the release of British nationals arbitrarily detained abroad”, citing cases in China and Saudi Arabia.

The authors go on to highlight the importance of Mr Tsege’s case to the “rules-based international system”. They argue that “To not interfere on Mr Tsege’s behalf would be to permit an impermissible abuse of the international system and the flagrant circumvention of the UK legal system, which occurred when the Ethiopians failed to request Mr Tsege’s extradition.”

The letter concludes by asking Boris Johnson to “call for Mr Tsege’s immediate release to his family in London”.

Commenting, Harriet McCulloch, deputy director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said:

“This is a wake up call for Boris Johnson to step up and start negotiating Andy Tsege’s return to the UK. Boris Johnson must listen to warnings from a former Attorney General, Lord Chancellor and DPP that Ethiopia has broken British law by snatching Andy abroad and locking him on death row. After three years in terrible conditions on Ethiopia’s death row it is high time Andy is reunited with his family in London.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 7792 351 660. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064.

2. Further detail on Mr Tsege’s case can be found on the Reprieve website, here.

3. The joint letter to the Foreign Secretary is available on request.