The author of the communication is T.Z.,1 a national of Ethiopia born on 7 August
1981. He filed an application for asylum in Switzerland, but his request was rejected. He
was permitted to remain in Switzerland until 23 February 2015 and he risks forcible
removal. He claims that his removal to Ethiopia would constitute a violation by Switzerland
of article 3 of the Convention. The complainant is represented by counsel, Stephanie Motz.
On 10 July 2015, the Committee, acting through its Rapporteur on new complaints
and interim measures, requested the State party to refrain from expelling the complainant to
Ethiopia while his complaint was being considered by the Committee. On 14 July, the State
party reported that the complainant’s removal had been suspended in accordance with the
request by the Committee.
The facts as presented by the complainant
The complainant, who belongs to the Gurage ethnic group, comes from Addis
Ababa. He alleges that in 1995 (according to the Ethiopian calendar), he became a member
of the Addis Ababa Youth Association, 2 which was infiltrated by the government party, the
Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. Recognizing his hard work and longstanding repute in the community, the government party promoted the complainant within
the Association, enrolled him in political training courses and eventually recruited him for
the secret service.
As a member of the secret service, the complainant compiled reports about dissident
activities of other members of the Association and forwarded names of suspected
opposition members to the government party. His reports resulted in the arrest of two or
three persons each month. Prior to the election of 2010, the complainant and his peers were
instructed to inform the local police of any suspicious activities. About 107 individuals
were arrested as a result. After hearing rumours of mistreatment in prison, the complainant
visited two released individuals and found that they had been mistreated and severely
injured. The complainant was shocked and felt guilty. At an internal meeting of the secret
service held one or two months later, he became emotional and demanded that those
detained be released, threatening to inform human rights organizations. Subsequently, he
fell seriously ill and stayed at home. At the same time, rumours began to spread in his
district that he was working for the secret service. The complainant resigned from the secret
service in August 2011, against the advice of his superiors.
Ten days after his resignation, four police officers searched the complainant’s home,
confiscated his belongings and arrested him. The complainant stayed overnight at the
Woreda 24 police station and was taken to Maekelawi prison, where he was severely
tortured for three months. The officers accused the complainant of spying for opposition
parties and collaborating with Berhanu Nega, co-founder of Ginbot 7.3 The officers tortured
the complainant in more extreme ways for his failure to give satisfactory answers. When his
joints were dislocated by the officers’ forcing his legs apart, he became unconscious and
was taken to the police hospital. During the few days he spent at the hospital, he had
visitors who tried to make him change his mind about his resignation, but he refused. For
the following 1½ months in detention, he was no longer mistreated and was released after
signing several documents. For 15 days after his release, the complainant hid at the homes
of different friends.
The complainant has requested the Committee not to reveal his identity.
A copy of the complainant’s membership card for the Addis Ababa Youth Association has been
submitted as evidence.
Ginbot 7 is an opposition political organization which has been banned by the Ethiopian Government.
It was founded by Berhanu Nega, the founding chair of the Movement for Democracy and Social
Justice. The aim of Ginbot 7 is “the realization of a national political system in which government
power and political authority is assumed through a peaceful and democratic process based on the free
will and choice of citizens of the country”. On 24 April 2009, the Ethiopian Government claimed to
have foiled an attempted coup d’état led by members of Ginbot 7 aimed at overthrowing the
Government. Ginbot 7 describes the allegations as unfounded. In its 2016/17 annual report, Amnesty
International stated that human rights defenders and members and leaders of the political opposition
(such as Ginbot 7) had been targeted under anti-terrorism legislation. See