Ethiopia: Reckoning Under the Law

In May, 1991, the government of former President Mengistu Haile Mariam was overthrown by the military forces of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), ending seventeen years of the repressive rule of the Dergue regime. The Mengistu government was responsible for human rights violations on an enormous scale. Tens of thousands of Ethiopians were tortured, murdered or "disappeared" after arrest during the period from 1974 to 1991. Human Rights Watch/Africa (HRW/Africa) documented these violations in its book-length report Evil Days: 30 Years of War and Famine in Ethiopia (Evil Days) in 19911. In March and April, 1994, HRW/Africa sent a mission to Ethiopia to investigate the process established by the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) to bring former officials of the Mengistu regime to justice for these human rights violations.

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