The Right to Bail under Ethiopian Federal Anti-corruption Laws: Implications on the Right of the Accused (Case-oriented Study)

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


One of the fundamental rules that guide decisions during criminal justice administration is the presumption that a suspect is innocent until his guilt has been established by a court of competent jurisdiction. This presumption is enshrined in the FDRE constitution as fundamental human rights. Consequently, the rights of suspects remain largely protected during the process of criminal justice administration, from arrest to conviction. Full and non-discriminatory realization of rights of human beings during criminal proceedings requires administration of criminal justice in full compliance with human rights standards. This research examines the Constitutional, Procedural and Judicial significance of bail in criminal justice administration in the Federal Courts of Ethiopia. Thus, the practice in the federal courts of ensuring protection of rights to be presumed innocent and to be released on bail as an element of fair trial guarantees are examined. The research therefore has analyzed the factors that influence bail decisions and just administration of bail in Federal Courts, with emphasis on laws and practices on criminal proceedings of corruption offences. With a view to inform the study with evidences from the practice the study besides to the legal framework has examined cases and proceedings of corruption offences and investigated the enforcement of essential bail rights in the course of the proceedings. Based on these investigations the study has found that the practice in the federal courts seen diminishing the protection that should be given to fundamental guarantees of person accused/suspected of corruption offense. Firstly, article 4 (1) of the revised anti-corruption proclamation which provides that an arrested person suspected of a corruption offense punishable for more than ten years shall not be released on bail has denied the court its important role in regards to protection of the rights to release on bail and to be presumed innocent of an accused person. This opens a space for arbitrary application of the commission’s power and prevents the court from playing its role by examining seriousness of the offense, the nature of evidence and behavior of the suspect. This observation is further confirmed by analysis of cases examined by this study which shown that suspects were detained for longer period and finally found innocent. In another note the study also found that article 5 (2) of the same proclamation undermines the right of suspect because it automatically authorizes suspension of a lower court decision to release the suspect on bail based only on filing of appeal by the prosecutor or investigator. This coupled with the fact that the appeal process usually takes longer time it results in punishing suspects before conviction. Moreover, the fact that article 7 IV (4) of the proclamation mandatorily provides that matters related to bail shall be tried only by the court that has jurisdiction to hear corruption offence cases makes realization of the right to bail difficult. This is so due to the fact that federal courts are not permanently present in all parts of the country and hears cases on a circuit court arrangement which in between the suspect faces lengthy detention before trial. Owing to this the study found that the current legislative framework and practice has weakness in dealing with right to bail of suspects of corruption offense. Thus the legislative framework and the practice of federal courts in connection to bail rights of person suspected of corruption offence needs to be revised so that it becomes compatible to the constitutional guarantees and international human rights standards.



Right to Bail under Ethiopian Federal Anti-corruption