By Haile Tessema, Nov. 2018
With regards to former govt. officials suspected of involvement in corruption and human rights violations, Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed told parliament that there's not enough prison to put all wanted, hence only the major suspects would be hunted and persecuted (notwithstanding his preference to use "criminals" before they are found guilty in a court of law).
However, to overlook a crime for logistical reasons would be:
a) A travesty of justice and violation of the law that compels govt. to bring suspected criminals to justice;
b) Setting a bad precedent for predetermining crimes as major and minor before a thorough investigation is conducted, and thereby allowing the latter to go unpunished;
c) Crowning the political entity of the executive branch of govt. to interpret the law, and decide what's prosecutable and what's dismissible;
d) Opening the door for the politicization of the justice system, thereby creating a loophole for partisan or selective justice to officially and sweepingly take the course. i.e. To go after political foes, while ignoring alleged atrocities of friends, allies and that of partners in crime;
e) Giving a legitimate reason to believe or a pretext for some of the accused to use that they are being selectively targeted for purely political reasons and/or due to their ethnic background;
f) In relation to item 'e' above, family members, friends, political supporters and those who share ethnic identity with the accused could feel that selective justice is in full swing, thus lose faith in the political process and legal proceedings of the land.
Subsequently, in order to prevent selective justice and so as to give political and legal legitimacy to the arrests and charges currently taking place, the Abiy government has the legal duty and moral obligation to bring all govt. officials and bureaucrats -- regardless of their political affiliations or ethnic identity -- suspected of crimes to face justice.
If such a process is deemed too heavy for an overloaded judiciary system, a non-partisan *special investigation and prosecution unit could be formed by parliament to conduct investigations, thereby crack down on suspects to face justice.
* "Special prosecutors are appointed where there is a significant potential for a perceived or real improper influence in prosecutorial decision-making in a given case. The paramount consideration is the need to maintain public confidence in the administration of criminal justice."
Failing that -- while partisan supporters cheer actions taken by the govt. regardless of their legality or fairness -- there won't be a shortage of people who jeer the process and outcome as nothing more than a selective justice aimed to conduct political witch-hunt and ethnic targeting. Which in turn widens the political gap, and exacerbates the ethnic tension that is worsening by the day.