Practice Relating to Rule 159. Amnesty
Ethiopia’s Constitution (1994) provides:
The legislature or any other organ of state shall have no power to pardon or give amnesty with regard to [acts qualified as “crimes against humanity” such as] inhuman punishment, forcible disappearances, summary executions, acts of genocide. Crimes against humanity shall not be subject to amnesty or pardon by any act of government.
In the Mengistu and Others case
in 1995 concerning the prosecution and trial of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam and former members of the Derg for allegedly committing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes during the former regime between 1974 and 1991, the Special Prosecutor of Ethiopia, in a reply submitted in response to the objection filed by counsel for defendants, stated: “It is … a well established custom and belief that war crimes and crimes against humanity are not subject to amnesty.”
Referring to a statement made in 1991 by a high-ranking US peace negotiator at the London Conference as well as to a decision of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia, the Special Prosecutor further stated: “The Transitional Government should consider an appropriate amnesty or indemnity for past acts not constituting violations of the laws of war or international human rights.”