Ethiopia, Sudan extradition agreement condemned

Ethiopia and Sudan on Wednesday signed an extradition agreement in Addis Ababa but there are fears that this may be a ploy to persecute Ethiopian opposition exiles in the neighbouring country.

The agreement is a follow up to another one between the two countries in December 2011 in which it was agreed not to host opposition figures from their respective countries.

Thousands of Ethiopian opposition members sought refuge in Sudan following the 2005 election, which was characterised by violence, which claimed almost 200 lives.

At the beginning of 2012, the international community criticised Sudan after it deported hundreds of Ethiopian opposition figures.

The Berlin-based Solidarity Committee for Ethiopian Political Prisoners (SOCEPP) alleged in March 2012 that Sudanese police had raided houses and rounded up Ethiopians in Omdurman and many parts of the capital, Khartoum, for forcible deportation.

Following the crackdown, a truck carrying Ethiopian refugees, who were held for deportation, was involved in an accident that left 1,242 Ethiopians and two Sudanese police men dead, SOCEPP said.

The NGO also condemned the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) for failing to defend the rights of many Ethiopian refugees, who they say are still languishing in several detention facilities across Sudan as they await deportation.

The fresh agreement is meant to hand over what they call “criminals”.

But the special arrangement between Addis Ababa and Khartoum is believed to be in violation of the Geneva Convention on Refugees and the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Last year, SCOEPP similarly accused Sudanese authorities of deporting former Ethiopian opposition politician, Andualem Alemayo, in the central Kober prison in Khartoum after he entered the country from neighbouring Eritrea where he had been criticising the Ethiopian government on radio and television programmes in Asmara.

In recent years, the Sudanese government has handed over to Ethiopia a number of political refugees, mainly those who are suspected of being members of Eritrea-backed Ethiopian resistance groups.