London family spend Christmas without death-row dad

December 25, 2016

The family of a British man on death row in Ethiopia are spending their third Christmas without him.

British national Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege was kidnapped at an airport in 2014 and rendered illegally to Ethiopia.

He was held incommunicado for a year before being transferred to a prison that has been referred to as ‘Ethiopia’s gulag’.

Mr Tsege is being held under an unlawful death sentence, which was imposed in absentiain 2009 when he was living in London with his partner and three young children.

The death sentence relates to his political opposition to the Ethiopian government. US diplomats described the trial as “lacking basic elements of due process.”

British diplomats have “not been shown any evidence [in Mr Tsege’s case] that would stand up in a UK court”, according to emails obtained by international human rights group Reprieve.

However, the UK government has refused to call for his release, despite MPs from all parties raising the case.

Andy’s daughter Menabe, aged 9, said:

“We’re so sad that our dad isn’t with us for Christmas. It’s been two years now since we last heard his voice, and we are so worried about him. I was 7 when my dad disappeared, and now I’m nearly 10 – I feel like I’m really growing up without him. I can’t believe the government isn’t doing more to help us.”

Yemi Hailemariam, Andy’s partner, said:

“It’s heartbreaking to have to prepare my kids for a third Christmas without their dad, and to explain to them why the government isn’t doing more to bring him home. I can’t bear the thought that next year we might be in the same position. The only comfort is that MPs from all parties are now asking why Boris Johnson won’t press for Andy’s return home. I truly hope that in 2017 the Foreign Office changes its stance, and takes steps to bring Andy home to us.”

Harriet McCulloch, deputy director of the death penalty team at Reprieve:

“It’s nothing short of a disgrace that Andy is spending another Christmas in illegal detention, at the hands of a government that’s subjected him to a series of grave abuses – from a political in absentia death sentence, to kidnap, rendition and torture. MPs from all parties are rightly asking why the Foreign Secretary won’t change his approach and start challenging the Ethiopians over their outrageous treatment of this British citizen. Enough is enough – Boris Johnson must urgently seek Andy’s return to his partner and kids in the UK.”

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. 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.