Practice Relating to Rule 158. Prosecution of War Crimes
Ethiopia’s Penal Code (1957), under the heading “Offences against the law of nations”, provides for a list of punishable acts committed by “whosoever” such as: “war crimes against the civilian population” (Article 282); “war crimes against wounded, sick or shipwrecked persons” (Article 283); “war crimes against prisoners and interned persons” (Article 284); “pillage, piracy and looting” (Article 285); “provocation and preparation [of the above-mentioned acts]” (Article 286); “dereliction of duty towards the enemy” (Article 287); “use of illegal means of combat” (Article 288); “maltreatment of, or dereliction of duty towards, wounded, sick or prisoners” (Article 291); “denial of justice” (Article 292); “hostile acts against international humanitarian organizations” (Article 293); “abuse of international emblems and insignia” (Article 294); and “hostile acts against the bearer of a flag of truce” (Article 295). Some of these provisions specify that the acts concerned be committed “in time of war, armed conflict (or occupation)” and/or “in violation of the rules of public international law”.
In 1992, the transitional government of Ethiopia adopted the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office Establishment Proclamation which provides:
It is essential that higher officials of the WPE [Workers’ Party of Ethiopia] and members of the security and armed forces who have been detained at the time the EPRDF [Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front] assumed control of the Country and thereafter and who are suspected of having committed offences … must be brought to trial.
Furthermore, the proclamation provides: “It is necessary to provide for the establishment of a Special Public Prosecutor’s Office that shall conduct prompt investigation and bring to trial detainees as well as those persons who are responsible for having committed offences.”
Ethiopia’s Criminal Code (2004) states:
Article 15.- Crimes Committed in a Foreign Country by a Member of the Defence Forces.
(2) In cases of crimes against international law and specifically military crimes as defined in Articles 269–322, the member of the Defence Forces shall remain subject to national law and be tried under the provisions of this Code by Ethiopian military courts.