UK’s Foreign Office loses contact with Andargachew Tsige, Reprieve says

ESAT News (November 11, 2016)


Andargachew Tsige and family

Reprieve, an international human rights organization, said on Friday that Britain’s Foreign Office has failed for a fortnight to confirm if a British father held on death row in Ethiopia is still alive, after a warning that his life may be in danger.

Reprieve, which follows the case of Andargachew Tsige, said in a release on Friday that UK diplomats in Ethiopia learned on Friday 27 October that British father-of-three, Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, was ‘in fear for his life’ following disturbances at the prison.

Mr Tsege has been imprisoned unlawfully in Ethiopia since 2014, when he was kidnapped at an international airport and rendered to the country. His death sentence was illegally imposed in absentia in 2009 for his criticism of Ethiopia’s ruling party while he was in London with his family.

“Concerns for Mr Tsege’s well being have escalated over the last fortnight, in which the Foreign Office has failed to secure consular access to the prison or speak to Andy directly, leaving his London family fearing for the worst,” said Reprieve.

For the first year of this captivity, Mr Tsege was held incommunicado. British diplomats were later allowed to visit him and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson claimed that “regular consular access” was “now in place.” However, Andy has not been allowed a consular visit in over three months, the human rights organization said.

Reprieve said the UK government has refused to call for his release, and cited consular access as a sign that his situation had improved.

The two-week news blackout from the jail has seriously undermined the Foreign Office’s claim that it has his case under control.

The FCO has focused on requesting legal access for Mr. Tsege – a request which the Ethiopian Prime Minister promised to honour in June this year, but has since reneged upon.

International human rights organisation Reprieve – which is assisting Mr Tsege – has argued that requesting legal access is ineffectual, because the Ethiopian Government has already stated that there is no legal route by which Mr. Tsege will be allowed to challenge his death sentence.