Prevent Genocide International 
Article 281 of the Ethiopian Penal Code


Chapter: Book III Offences Against the State or Against National or International Interests - Title II Offences Against the Law of Nations - Chapter I Fundamental Offences

Art. 281. Genocide; Crimes against Humanity

Whosoever, with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, religious or political group, organizes, orders or engages in, be it in time of war or in time of peace:

(a) killings, bodily harm or serious injury to the physical or mental health of members of the group, in any way whatsoever; or
(b) measures to prevent the propagation or continued survival of its members or their progeny; or
(c) the compulsory movement or dispersion of peoples or children, or their placing under living conditions calculated to result in their death or disappearance,

is punishable with rigorous imprisonment from five years to life, or, in cases of exceptional gravity, with death.

Art. 282. War crimes against the civilian population

Whosoever, in time of war, armed conflict of occupation, organizes, orders or engages in , against the civilian population and in violation of the rules of public international law and of international humanitarian conventions:

(a) killings, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, or any other acts involving dire suffering or bodily harm, or injury to mental or physical health; or
(b) wilful reduction to starvation, destitution or general ruination through the depreciation, counterfeiting or systematic debasement of the currency; or
(c) the compulsory movement or dispersion of the population, its systematic deportation, transfer or detention in concentration camps or forced labour camps; or
(d) forcible enlistment in the enemy's armed forces, intelligence services, or administration; or
(e) denationalization or forcible religious conversion; or
(f) compulsion to acts of prostitution, debauchery or rape; or
(g) measures of intimidation or terror, the taking of hostages or the imposition of collective punishments or reprisals; or
(h) the confiscation of estates, the destruction or appropriation of property, the imposition of unlawful or arbitrary taxes or levies, or of taxes or levies disproportionate to the requirements of strict military necessity, is punishable with rigorous imprisonment from five years to life, or, in cases of exceptional gravity, with death.

Art. 283. Crimes against the wounded, sick or shipwrecked persons

Whosoever, in the circumstances defined above, organizes, orders or engages in:

(a) killings, torture or inhuman treatment or other acts entailing dire suffering or physical or mental injury to wounded, sick or shipwrecked persons, or to members of the medical or first-aid services; or
(b) the destruction, rendering unserviceable or appropriation of supplies, installations or stores belonging to the medical or first-aid services, in a manner which is unlawful, arbitrary or disproportionate to the requirements of strict military necessity,

is punishable in accordance with Art. 282

Art. 284. War crimes against prisoners and interned persons

Whosoever, in the circumstances defined above:

(a) organizes, orders or engages in killings, acts of torture or inhuman treatment or acts entailing dire suffering or injury to prisoners of war or interned persons; or
(b) compels such persons to enlist in the enemy's armed forces or intelligence or administrative services,

is punishable in accordance with Art. 282

Art. 285. Pillage, piracy and looting

Whosoever organizes, orders or engages in looting, piracy, pillage, economic spoliation or the unlawful destruction or removal of property on pretext of military necessity, is punishable in accordance with Art. 282

Art. 286. Provocation and preparation

Whosoever, with the object of committing, permitting or supporting any of the acts provided for in the preceding articles:

(a) publicly encourages them, by word or mouth, images or writings; or
(b) conspires towards or plans with another, urges the formation of, or himself forms a band or group, joins such a band or group, adheres to its schemes or obeys its instructions,

is punishable with rigorous imprisonment not exceeding five years.

Book I Offences and the Offender - Title I Criminal Law and its Scope - Chapter II Scope of Application of the Law - Section II Conditions as to Place - Paragraph 2 Subsidiary Application

Art. 19. Conditions for subsidiary application

(1) In the application of this Code it shall be presumed:
(a) that the complaint or denunciation by the victim or his dependants was lodged when it is a condition for prosecution and trial under the law of the place of commission of the offence or under Ethiopian law;
(b) that the offender is within the territory of the Empire and has not been extradited, or that extradition was obtained by reason of the offence committed;
(c) that the offence was not legally pardoned in the country of commission and that the prosecution is not barred either under the law of the country where the offence was committed or under Ethiopian law.
(2) Prosecution shall be instituted by the Attorney General after consultation with the Minister of Justice.
(3) The punishment to be imposed under this Code shall not be more severe than the heaviest penalty prescribed by the law of the country of commission where such country is recognized by Ethiopia.

Art. 20. Effect of foreign sentences

(1) In all cases where Ethiopian courts have a subsidiary jurisdiction only (Art. 15 (1), 17 and 18), the offender cannot be tried and sentenced in Ethiopia if he was regularly discharged or acquitted for the same act in a foreign country.
(2) If the offender was tried and sentenced in a foreign country but did not undergo his punishment, or served only part of it in the said country, the punishment, or the remaining part thereof, may if it is not barred by limitation, be enforced according to the forms prescribed by this Code. The provisions of Art. 12 (3) shall apply mutatis mutandis to this Article.

PENAL CODE OF THE EMPIRE OF ETHIOPIA OF 1957, Proclamation No. 158 of 1957, Negarit Gazeta, Extraordinary Issue No. 1 of 1957, 23 July 1957. Came into force: 5 May 1958 

Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Adopted: 8 Dec 1994

Art. 28. Crimes Against Humanity

1. Criminal liability of persons who commit crimes against humanity, so defined by international agreements ratified by Ethiopia and by other laws of Ethiopia, such as genocide, summary executions, forcible disappearances or torture shall not be barred by statute of limitation. Such offences may not be commuted by amnesty or pardon of the legislature or any other state organ.

2. In the case of persons convicted of any crime stated in sub-article 1 of this Article and sentenced with the death penalty, the Head of State may, without prejudice to the provisions hereinabove, commute the punishment to life imprisonment.


Note on Political Groups: The Penal Code of the Empire of Ethiopia of 1957, incorporates the crime of genocide in Article 281 using language which closely parallels the wording of the U.N. Genocide Convention, "with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group" In addition to the four groups named in the Convention, the Ethiopian Penal Code includes "political group"

Ethiopia took part in the negotiation of the Genocide Convention in 1948, signed the Convention on the day it become open for signature and was the first nation to ratify the Convention on July 1,1949.

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