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Annex 6 - Laws, Policies, and Policing: Information Gathering Checklist

1. Terms, definitions, laws -- national statutes, laws, policies, etc:

a. Types of offences
The criminal code defines the elements that need to exist in order to charge somebody with
rape. These elements are;1
Compelling a women to submit to sexual intercourse outside of wedlock,
By use of violence or grave intimidation or,
After rendering her unconscious or incapable of resistance.
In the circumstances where these elements are present, the charge of rape can be instituted
and one can be punishable from five to fifteen years.
a) Marital rape: from the definition given on the elements of rape, it can be deduced
that marital rape is not recognized as a crime under the Ethiopian Criminal Code.
b) Statutory rape: Although statutory rape has not been defined, it is recognized in the
Ethiopian criminal code as a crime. In accordance with this therefore, any sexual act
with a minor, whether with or without the consent of the minor is criminalized. 2
Where the act is performed with a minor who is between the age of 13-18, the
punishment shall be rigorous imprisonment from five to twenty years,
Where it is performed with a minor under the age of thirteen, then the punishment
will be rigorous imprisonment of twenty to twenty five years.
c. Attempted rape: Attempting to commit a crime is punishable under the Ethiopian
Criminal law, in light of the fact that rape is a crime under the same law, attempted
rape is also punishable. The law punishes anyone who intentionally begins to commit
a crime and does not pursue or is unable to pursue his criminal activity to its end, or
anyone who pursues his criminal activity to its end without achieving the result
necessary for the completion for the crime. The punishment for attempt will be the
same number of years that are attached to the crime intended.
Other forms of gender-based violence
a. Domestic Violence: any person who engages in Violence against a marriage
partner or a person cohabiting in an irregular union is punishable with;
Where it results in grave injury, with rigorous imprisonment not exceeding
fifteen years, or with simple imprisonment for not less than one year.
Where it results in common willful injury, upon complaint with simple
imprisonment not exceeding one year, or with fine. This crime is
punishable upon accusation where the criminal has used poison, lethal
weapon or any other instrument capable of inflicting injury, or has inflicted the
injury in breach of duty, or the victim is sick, weak or incapable of defending
b. Sexual assault: this is defined as compelling a person of the opposite sex, to
perform or to submit to an act corresponding to the sexual act, or any other indecent
act, by the use of violence or grave intimidation, or after having in any other way
rendered his victim incapable of offering resistance. This act is punishable with

1 Article 620(1), Criminal Code [Ethiopia], Proclamation No. 414/2004, 9 May 2005,
available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/49216b572.html
2 According to the Ethiopian law a minor is anyone who is under the age of 18.

simple imprisonment for not less than one year, or rigorous imprisonment
not exceeding ten years.
Where the act involves minors between the age of thirteen and eighteen years of
age, the punishment shall be simple imprisonment not less than three
months or with rigorous imprisonment not exceeding five years.
c. Abduction/ early marriage:
Early marriage is also criminalized under the
Ethiopian law. In accordance with whoever with intent to marry a woman abducts her
by violence, or commits such an act after having obtained her consent by
intimidation, threat, trickery or deceit, is punishable with rigorous imprisonment
from three years to ten years.
d. Harmful Traditional Practices: Any person who endangers the life of women,
pregnant women or girls through harmful traditional practices shall be subject to fine
or imprisonment or simple imprisonment not exceeding six month. In the case where
the harmful traditional practice is circumcision, the punishment shall be
imprisonment for not less than three months, or fine not less than five hundred Birr.
Where someone is found engaged in infibulating the genitalia of a woman, the
punishment shall be rigorous imprisonment from three years to five years.
Statute of limitations
Rape: the statute of limitation for instituting charges on the basis of this crime is 25
years, where the crime results in severe bodily or mental harm. Whereas, where the
rape is statutory rape committed on minors under the age of 13, then this statute of
limitation will extend to 25 years.
Sexual assault: the statute of limitation for instituting a case on the basis of this
case is 10 years.
Domestic Violence: the statute of limitation in this case is 20 years.
Abduction/early marriage: the statute of limitation for charging this crime is 15
Harmful Traditional Practices: the statute of limitation for this charge is 10 years.
Mandatory reporting requirements
According to the Ethiopian law, every person has the right to report any offence, whether or
not he has witnessed the commission of the same, with a view to criminal proceedings
beings instituted. However, this right turns obligatory in certain circumstance. The law
criminalizes the failure to report a crime, where one knows of the commission, or the identity
of the perpetrator of a crime which is punishable with death or rigorous imprisonment for life
or where one is by law or rules of his profession, obliged to notify the competent authorities
in the interest of public security or public order, of certain crimes or certain grave facts and
fails to do so. The law punishes individuals who fall within this category with fine not
exceeding one thousand Birr, or simple imprisonment not exceeding six months.
With regards to GBV cases, the law makes it mandatory to report all cases, where the person
who witnessed the commission of the crime or knows the identity of the perpetrator of a
crime, has an obligation to notify the competent authorities by virtue of the law or the rules
of his profession. However, it is only with regards to rape that results in a grave mental or
bodily injury, that reporting cases of SGBV is mandatory, and where failure to do so results in
Laws and Policies concerning GBV cases

The Constitution which is the supreme law of the land and international instruments ratified
by the country, are among the major laws guaranteeing protection to women. However, its
not only these laws that guarantee the rights of women against SGBV, the criminal code of
the country and the family law also provide for protection for women. Although there are not
many policies specific to the issue of SGBV, all major national policies have aspects which
address equality of men and women. Among these policies, it is advisable to take note of the
National Action Plan for Gender Equality (2006-2010).
Who has the responsibility to report?
Health workers must report to police/security forces?
a) What kinds of cases
b) Who must report (doctors, nurses, all?)
c) Any exceptions possible?
d) What happens if they do not make the report?
Others required to report?
As has been stated above reporting is a requirement for everyone who has witnessed the
commission of the crime or who knows the person who has committed a crime. However,
failure to do so is made punishable only under certain conditions, among which is
professional duty. Although the law does not provide for a list of professionals who are
required by law to report crimes, it is generally assumed that this requirement extends to
professionals like police, prosecutors, judges and lawyers- in general those who have a direct
responsibility to ensure respect for the law.
It should also be noted that the law gives certain professionals a margin of discretion with
regards to the reporting requirement. This is extended in order to guarantee the sanctity of
client- professional privacy. In fact, the law prescribes punishment for breaches of secrecy
for those who have such professional duties. These are those working as; Ministers of
religion of whatever belief, advocates, legal advisers, attorneys, arbitrators, experts, jurors,
translators and interpreters, notaries, directors, managers, inspectors or employees of
private companies or undertakings pledged to secrecy under the provisions of the Civil and
Commercial Codes, and doctors, dentists, pharmacists, midwives, nurses and auxiliary
medical personnel.3 However, their responsibility extends so far as their knowledge of the
crime came in connection to undertaking their professional duties and in relation to the
obligation that arises with the same.
c. Legal protections for other forms of gender-based violence
Abandonment of newborns/ infanticide
The Criminal Code criminalizes infanticide and clearly states that a mother, who
intentionally kills her infants while she is in labour, will be subject to simple
imprisonment. Where the crime is attempted, the punishment shall be mitigated.
However, where a mother who kills her child, after birth either intentionally or by
negligence will be charged with homicide.
With regards to the crime of abandonment, the law provides that any parent, or other
person exercising the authority of a guardian or tutor, who for gain or in depreciation
of his duty grossly neglects a child or abandons the child or who leaves the child for a
long time with a person or an organization or an institution while he knows or could
have known of the physical/ psychological danger posed to the child, will be

3 The requirement further extends to apprentices, interns and practitioners who

learned of such fact in undertaking their responsibility.

subjected to simple imprisonment or fine. In grave circumstances, such person shall

lose his family rights.
Age of marital consent and conditions of consent
The age of marital consent, according to the revised family law of Ethiopia is 18, which is the
same age specified as the age for the attainment of majority. However, the law does set
forth exceptions to this by providing a dispensation of not more than two years, where the
spouses, their parents or guardians apply to this effect. It is worthy to underline the fact that
the full and free consent of both parties is a mandatory requirement in all cases.
Divorce, child custody, and child support
Under the Ethiopian law, spouses are given equal right in marriage and during the
dissolution of the same. In accordance with this, the family code extends rights to both
spouses that come into effect during the dissolution of marriage. The spouses can opt for
divorce, either by making a mutual agreement to this effect or by one of the parties making
a petition to this effect. Further, since the law presumes that all property created in marriage
as common property, spouses have equal rights in the liquidation of property. The only
circumstance under which, one person may take more property, is where the party shows
that the property is his/her soul property.
Where it comes to child custody, the Court decides on the custodial rights of parents when
deciding on the dissolution of the marriage. The factors to be considered in making this
decision are; the income, age, health and living conditions of spouses and the age and
interest of the child.
Child support: The law in this regard only states that there exists an obligation to give
maintenance and further that this obligation exists between ascendants and descendants
and vise versa.
Property ownership rights of women
The Constitution guarantees the right of women to acquire, administer, control, use and
transfer property. In particular, the constitution makes reference to this right visa Vis
ownership of land. However, it should be noted that in Ethiopia, ownership of land is
reserved to the Nations, Nationalities and People of Ethiopia.
In the context of marriage, the right to administer common property is something that can
be agreed on in the contract of marriage itself. However, when it comes to the
administration of personal property acquired outside of marriage, each spouse has the right
to administer such property alone.
Inheritance rights of women/widows/daughters
The Constitution, further establishes that women have equal rights with men to inherent
Abortion is not punishable where; the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, the
continuance of the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother or the child or the health of
the mother, the birth of the child is a risk to the life or health of the mother, the child has an
incurable and serious deformity, or where the pregnant women, owing to a physical or
mental deficiency she suffers from or her minority, is physically as well as mentally unfit
bring up the child.
Evidence needed? Documentation required?
The law does not specify the evidence needed to prove the legality of the abortion to be
performed or already performed.

Protection for doctors performing legal abortions

There are no specific protections extended to doctors performing legal abortions. However,
the law does guarantee that those engaged in legal abortions will not be subject to
punishment so long the circumstances fall under those provided for by the law.
Cost of abortion who pays?
e. Age of majority
According to the Ethiopian Family law, a minor is a person of either sex who has not
attained the age of eighteen years.
2. Police procedures and practices
a. What types of cases have you seen here? (Offer some examples)
What happened to those cases?
Check perceptions that may affect practices; e.g.
a) women drop the charges when the perpetrator is husband no need for rigorous
b) claims of rape are to cover a womans promiscuity and shame
b. Capacity of police station/post
Physical layout, available private interview space, location/size of jail, etc.
Special arrangements for juvenile offenders, women
Gender and age segregated facilities
Number of officers and commanders
Number of female officers
How are patrols scheduled, routes chosen?
Staff rotation schedule for this location (if remote)
Vehicles available, fuel, state of repair, etc.
Forms, paper, pens, desks, files
c. Acceptable reporting sources (refugees? NGOs?)
Liaison with UN agencies, community security teams, others?
d. Police knowledge applicable laws
Copies of current statutes in police stations/posts?
Police officers able to read and apply the laws?
Orientation and training about this location for new officers
Training in laws, procedures ongoing training?
e. Location of interviews with GBV complainants
Private space?
Who is present?
Gender and Child-sensitive?
f. Documentation
Written complaint what is needed? Medical documentation? a) Standard form? c) Forensic
Complaint has to be made in order for any investigation to begin. Once complaint has been
made, either orally or in a written form, the police will record the complaint given in writing.

In cases of rape, medical evidence will be required. As to the other SGBVs, the law does not
specify the specific medical evidence required to prove the same.
b) Examination findings
d) Signature authorization (Dr only?)
g. Investigation and arrest
Procedures what are they, are they written?
The procedure for arrest and investigation has been provided for in the Criminal
Procedure Code of Ethiopia.4 In accordance with this, during investigation, the police
first elicits from the person making the accusation/ complaint all relevant facts,
dates, names, description of the offender, the names and addresses of principal
witnesses and all other evidence.
As to the manner of investigation, the criminal procedure code provides that during
interrogation, the suspect shall not be forced to answer any questions.
Arrest: In principle arrest has to be made with warrant given by the Court. This
warrant will only be issued where the attendance of the person before the Court is
absolutely necessary and cannot otherwise be obtained. However, arrest without this
warrant is possible, where it the crime is a flagrant offence punishable with simple for
not less than three months.
Whether the arrest is made with or without warrant, the suspect has the right to be
presented before the Court within 48 hours of the arrest. Further to this, he has the
right to be informed of his right to remain silent.
Detention of suspects physical conditions (food, treatment, water/san,
etc.) and rules (time and conditions for detention)
Although the law does not provide for the physical conditions under which the
arrested has to be placed. It does provide the right of the accused to be brought to
the court within 48 hours of the arrest being made. Further to this, the law provides
that the Court may grant a remand period of maximum 14 days, where the police
apply for such on the basis of requiring more time for investigation.
Access to legal representation?
Both the Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Code of Ethiopia provide the
accused with the right to have a legal representation. The Constitution to this effect
states that persons accused have the right to be represented by legal counsel of
their choice, and if they do not have sufficient means to pay for it and miscarriage of
justice would result, to be provided with legal representatives at the States expense.
This right is further extended to persons arrested or on remand, under the Criminal
Procedure Code.
Writing charges whose role is this?
It is the Public Prosecutor who is mandated with the power to frame charges he
thinks fit, having regard to the police investigation. Such charge is to be framed
within fifteen days of the receipt of the police report or the record of a preliminary

Protection of survivor and witnesses:

3. Legal proceedings (criminal)
Victim or State responsible for pressing charges in criminal proceedings?

4 Criminal Procedure Code of Ethiopia [Ethiopia], Proclamation No. 185 of 1961, 2

November 1961, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/492163ac2.html

This has been addressed under the who has the responsibility to report section
Evidentiary requirements for different types of GBV crimes
Here as well, the law does not say anything specific about the evidentiary related
requirement. This is better analyzed from information gathered through interviews. It
is however worthy to note that upon conducting an interview with a public prosecutor
here in Addis, I have learned that generally police only require a statement, and in
rape cases in particular ask for medical examination results. He had also informed
me for cases involving domestic violence and assault; they only require medical
examination when the impact is visible on the physical appearance of the person. In
other cases, they just require a statement.
Witness corroboration required?
Witness corroboration is not a requirement set for prosecution under the Ethiopian
Requisite standard(s) of proof?
There are no requisite standards for proof adopted by the Ethiopian law; however,
academically it is argued that the Courts have adopted the Beyond Reasonable Doubt
standard. Nevertheless, I have learned from my interview with the Public Prosecutor
that in SGBV cases, the standards are loose, in legal terms one can label this as the
Preponderance of Evidence standard.
Bail and detention during trial
Bail is a legal right extended as a matter of principle. However, there is one
exception. This is where the crime is punishable with rigorous imprisonment of 15
years or life or where the there is a possibility of the person in respect of whom the
crime was committed dying. Further, the law addresses detention during itrial in
cases of an irresponsible5 person.
Conviction rates and statistics on GBV cases

c. Time frame for prosecution from date of charges filed to date of acquittal or
Time frame required by statute?
Reasons for delays
There is a statute of limitation set in the law for prosecuting cases. This has been discussed
in the statute of limitation section of this document. With regards to the time frame for
specific cases, there are none place on the time it should take from the filling of the charge
to conviction/ acquittal. However, the public prosector I had interviewed has told me that he
knew of rape cases, instituted in 2003e.c and on which decisions were passed in 2007e.c.
Among the factors he listed as reasons for the delay were the case load, the time taken to
collect evidence and sometimes the shaky stand taken by survivors towards moving forward
with the prosecution.
d. Can court proceedings occur In camera for these cases? Who decides? Is this
standard practice?
The law provides for a requirement of an in camera procedure only in the circumstances
where the case involves children. As to other survivors, there is an option for the public
prosecutor to appeal for a closed session 6 instead of a public hearing (a right of the
accused). The final decision on this appeal, will be made by the Court.
e. Transport, care, protection of witnesses Capacity (vehicles, fuel, staff, etc.)

5 Irresponsibility is defined in terms of mental conditions

The law does not address this matter.

Standard procedures
Role of UNHCR if witnesses are refugees; coordination with UNHCR
Other organizations involved in witness assistance? (NGOs, others)
victim/witness/accused person
There are special provisions that apply to those minors who are accused for committing a
crime. The law provides that where a minor is found committing a crime, he/she shall be
taken to a Wereda Court immediately. Further to this, a charge shall only be filled where the
crime he/she is accused of is punishable with more than 10 years. During the trial, the minor
will be assisted by a counsel, if he has no parent or guardian representing the accused and
where the offense he/she is accused of is punishable with more than 10 years or death. The
trial will be held in chambers and where comments are made that the child should not hear.
The child will be removed from the chambers. The proceeding involving minors will also be
carried out in an informal manner.
With regards to the circumstances where the survivor or witness is a minor, although it is not
provided in the law, in practice, it is only after social workers have helped the minor calm
down and have collected the information that police will be allowed to take the word of the
minor. It should be noted that this is also a procedure that applies for an accused person
who is a minor.

g. Sentencing
Standard sentencing for certain types of crimes?
The sentences prescribed for GBV crimes under the law have also been discussed in the
relevant section on types of SGBV crimes.
a) If multiple crimes, are sentences concurrent or consecutive?
In the case of concurrent crimes, the law differentiates between notional and material
concurrence. In the case of notional concurrence, 7 if the second crime is intended or
foreseen, then the criminal shall be punished for the first and second crime, and aggravation
shall also apply. But, if the second crime is a result of negligence, then it will just result in
the increase of penalty. If both the initial crime and the result are due of a negligent
behavior, then the punishment will be aggravated accordingly.
In the case of Material concurrence 8, where one of the penalties is life imprisonment or
death, then this punishment shall apply. However, where each crime has a loss of liberty
attached to it, then the punishment shall be added, however this shall not surpass the

6 In this session, it is only the accused, his advocate, the public prosecutor and the
survivor who are allowed to attend the trial.
7 This is a circumstance where one criminal act contravenes different provisions of
the law.
8 Where a criminal successively commits different crimes.

maximum period provided in the general part. Where the punishments are simple
imprisonment, for instance of two years, then a maximum of one year rigorous
imprisonment shall be given to the accused. Where the charges are loss of liberty and fine,
both shall be given.
In the case of multiple crimes which are related, then the result shall be the aggravation of
b) Any special considerations for repeat offenders? Juveniles? Women?
The law does give special considerations for juveniles (those between the ages of 9-15) by
providing the measures applicable on them. In accordance with this, they will only be subject
to; admission to curative institutions, supervised education, reprimand, censure,
home/school arrest or admission to a corrective institution.
As regards to women, the law provides that sentences passed on expectant mothers shall be
postponed till after they give birth.
Repeated offenders will be charged under Recidivism and that will be a ground for
aggravation of the punishment.
c) Discretion of judge?
In the Ethiopian legal system, it is the role of the Public Prosecutor to define the charges
under which the accused will be made liable. However, both the accused and the Public
Prosecutor will be given a chance to have their say on the aggravation or lessening of the
same. At the end, it is the judge who will give a binding but appealable decision on these
Sentence likely to be carried out?
Alternatives, e.g. parole
Parole is granted to all criminals after they serve 2/3 rd of their sentences. However, this right
will not be extended to those charged with crimes that warrant life imprisonment or death.
Pardon and amnesty however can be given, with exception to those charged with the crime
of rape.
h. Capacity of court
Staff number and qualifications of judge/magistrate, clerks, others
Statutes, laws available and up to date?
Training and continuing education
Offices, chambers
How often does it sit?
Equipment (typewriters, computers)
Paper, pens, files
Vehicles, fuel, drivers, state of repair
4. What are the options for civil proceedings?
a. Procedures
b. Use and selection of attorney, costs, payment
c. Is this option used much?
Instituting a civil case is always an option reserved for the survivor. The survivor has to first
file his pleading in the registrar, which has to approve the file and its sufficiency. After it is
approved, the case will come before the judge who shall order summons for the defendant.
After adjudicating the case, the judge will make its decision. Judgments made by the criminal

court will not have a bearing on decisions made by the civil court. This is because the
standard of prove used by these Courts are different.
As regards to the costs and payments, the offender will have to pay these charges, if a
decision has been passed to this effect by the Civil Court.