EthioPoint: Ethiopians Analysis | Research Articles

Release, not Clemency!

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by Dr Tsegaye Ararssa
Releasing prisoners through pardon and amnesty (on a case-by-case basis) is a normal, if infrequent, juridical process implemented through the exercise of the Executive’s clemency power. It is done as an act of mercy exerted to ‘humanize’ legal justice or ‘to give legal justice a human face’. It is a thin supplement to the judicial work of convicting and correcting the guilty and acquitting and releasing the innocent.

Tsegaye Ararsa

This Executive act of clemency is not to be confused with the political act of releasing political prisoners unconditionally. The former is technical but the latter, as the name indicates, is political. Opting for a technical response to a supremely political question, trying to apply technical-legal solutions for preeminently political problems–as the TPLF regime is trying to do in Ethiopia today–is to invite more trouble, thereby deepening the crises further.
Political prisoners are released precisely because they are innocent as such. Political prisoners are POLITICAL PRISONERS only because they are innocent victims of political violence.
In a country where one’s Oromo identity is securitized and all forms of dissent are criminalized, it stands to reason to demand an unconditional release of all Oromo (and other) political prisoners.
For otherwise, the protesters will destroy the prisons and all of the regime’s torture chambers in order to free themselves. We have seen this happen in various towns in Oromia before, albeit at a small scale, and there’s no reason why it can’t happen again only at a larger scale.
The mandate to exercise clemency power has expired, if it ever was there. Releasing political prisoners is not about granting pardon and amnesty! It is not about clemency! Releasing political prisoners demands a political decision not an exercise of the (non-existing) executive power of clemency!
#ReleaseAllPolPrisoners #FreeEthiopia