Special Rapporteur On Prisons…

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Author : The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)

Year : 2004

At the 33rd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
(ACHPR) held in Niamey, Niger, the Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of
Detention in Africa, (SRP) Commissioner Dr. Vera Chirwa held discussions with the
government delegates from the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) to
explore the possibility of a visit to the country. At the 34th Ordinary Session of the
African Commission held in Banjul, The Gambia, the FDRE made an open invitation to
the Special Rapporteur to visit Ethiopia at any time. In consultation with the government
of Ethiopia, a mission was scheduled for 15 – 29 March 2004.
The mission falls within the mandate of the Special Rapporteur to monitor prisons and
other places of detention in Member States of the African Union and make appropriate
recommendations on how to enhance the rights of persons deprived of their liberty.

5. Harari Region
The Harari Region is the smallest of the 11 regions in Ethiopia with a population of only
175.900 inhabitants and a land area of 374 Km². The capital of the region, Harar is one of
the most popular historical towns in the Eastern part of Ethiopia. The State has no
administrative zones or Woredas. It has about 19 Kebeles. The Region has located in the
Eastern part of Ethiopia, surrounded by the Oromia Region.
The ethnic composition includes Oromo 52.3%, Amhara 32.6%, Harari 7.1%, and
Guragies 3.2%. Harari language is the official language of the State. The religious
composition of the population indicates that 60.3% are Muslims, 38.2% Orthodox
Christian, 0.9% Protestants, 0.55 Catholics, and 0.1% followers of other religious groups.
The region has only one prison with an inmate capacity of 1000 but holds about 1370
prisoners – 1296 male and 74 female. It must be noted here that more than half of the
inmates in this prison are from the Oromia Region detained in the Harar prison because
the Oromia regional government does not have enough prisons to keep them in. While in
the Harar prison, the Oromia regional government provides money for their daily upkeep
and transportation to court for those whose cases have not been disposed.
The prison has a small clinic with no resident doctor but has three nurses – 2 assistant
nurses and a sanitation officer. The male section is separated from the female section. A
juvenile cell of 4m x 7m with 12 inmates is not completely separated from the adult
section as there is free movement of adults in and out of the juvenile block.
The prison had 31 cells of different sizes – some 4m x 5m with 10 inmates, some 6m x
7m for 29 inmates, some 5m x 7m for 14 inmates and others 6m x 15m for 55 inmates.
The 84 female prisoners are living in only 4 cells some of them with very rough and dirty
walls. The walls, as well as the floors are not cemented. The area is very small and has no
space for recreational and other activities.
The prison has a volleyball court and offers vocational training – woodwork, metal work,
and brick laying only to male inmates. The authorities plan to introduce sewing for
female inmates. There is a school that offers classes up to grade 6. The school is
accredited by the regional ministry of national education. There is an acute shortage of
water in the prison. This is as a result of water shortage in the region as a whole.