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The Ethiopian Red Terror Trials: Transitional Justice Challenged (African Issues)by Kjetil Tronvoll
Synopses & Reviews
How was an autocratic emperor replaced by a totalitarian dictator? An unexpected popular upsurge in February 1974 made the ancien regime of Emperor Haile Selassie buckle. The Derg, a group of army officers led by an obscure and ruthless major Mengistu Hailemariam, seized power by military coup in September 1974 and removed the Emperor. What was the 'red terror'? The callous executions of members of the old regime initiated a cult of violence. The Derg were united by the shedding of blood. Search and destroy campaigns against militants led on to the full-blown 'red terror' in which thousands of the regime's opponents were brutally murdered in the streets. In what way was 'transitional justice' administered? The main officials were found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity by the Ethiopian Federal High Court and sentenced to life imprisonment. Some of the minor officials had already been sentenced to death, whilst President Mugabe has given Mengistu Hailemariam sanctuary in Zimbabwe. KJETIL TRONVOLL is Professor in Human Rights, Peace and Conflict Studies at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo; CHARLES SCHAEFER is Associate Professor of African History, Valparaiso University; GIRMACHEW ALEMU ANEME is a Research Fellow at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo.
Book News Annotation:
After having overthrown Haile Selassie, the Derg military junta that ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991 instituted a "Red Terror" in which tens of thousands of intellectuals, opposition party members, and others were imprisoned, tortured, and killed. Following their ouster by the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front, a Special Prosecutor's Office was established for investigating these crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice. In this work, Tronvoll (Norwegian Center for Human Rights, U. of Oslo, Norway), Schaefer (African history, Valparaiso U., Chile), and Aneme (Norwegian Center for Human Rights, U. of Oslo) present the results of a research project dedicated to assessing the conduct of the subsequent trials in relation to international standards of human rights and analyze the impact and understanding of the trials in broader Ethiopian context. It discusses the relevant history, the rights of those accused by the Special Prosecutor's Office, the role of the Special Prosecutor's Office, a comparison of the trials versus traditions of restorative justice in Ethiopia, the trials as a project for constructing political legitimacy, and related topics. Distributed in the US by Ohio U. Press. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This collection analyses the approach taken by the current government of Ethiopia to deal with the massive human rights violations that took place from 1974 to 1991 under the Derg.
'Transitional justice' - how to deal with human rights violations of former regions - has developed into a broad field of study, involving scholars from different academic disciplines, advocates, human rights practitioners and government policy advisors. This collection analyses the approach taken by the current government of Ethiopia to deal with the massive human rights violations that took place from 1974 to 1991 under the Derg.
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