China could execute Ethiopian woman accused of trafficking cocaine


Kwao Saa

An Ethiopian woman accused of trafficking cocaine to China could be executed.

Nazrawit Abera, a local entrepreneur, is currently in Chinese custody and is expected to be charged soon. China is one of the few countries in the world that hands death sentences for drug-related crimes. The Asian country executes people found guilty of drug-related crimes as a way to deter others from engaging in the illicit trade.

Nazrawit Abera is a 27-year-old entrepreneur and a graduate of Addis Ababa University. She studied engineering and has been involved in several construction projects in Ethiopia. Nazrawit was arrested on her way to China where she was reportedly going to purchase construction materials which she planned to import to Ethiopia.

Nazrawit is said to have helped a childhood friend transport some boxes of shampoos containing cocaine which she did not know about, according to the Reporter Ethiopia.

Police arrested this friend, whose identity has not been revealed, in Addis Ababa and later released her. Her whereabouts are currently unknown. Nazrawit’s friend reportedly attempted to travel to Thailand last week but was prevented from leaving Ethiopia by authorities.

Nazrawit’s plight has left many worried for her. While relatives and acquaintances believe she is innocent, they fear the ruling of Chinese courts could be unfavorable.

Her brother said the Ethiopian Embassy in China’s capital Beijing is providing her with the legal representation. However, she has been barred from contacting her family while she awaits sentencing.

“We are fearful, angry and do not know where to go and cry,” a friend whose name has been withheld told the press. “We have not heard from her, and we have little information of her status and her parents cry and spend sleepless nights hoping their daughter will come back.”

China has a high conviction rate for crimes relating to drug trafficking.

Nazrawit is not the only Ethiopian facing sentencing in China. There are reportedly 22 cases involving Ethiopian citizens in Chinese courts.

Many Ethiopians and Africans are heading to China in search of employment and for educational opportunities. Officials have warned that there are many scams run by drug traffickers looking to trick unsuspecting victims into helping them transport drugs to China.

In recent years, many Africans including Nigerians. Kenyans and Ugandans have been executed in China for drug-related offenses.

Recently, Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry warned Ethiopian students of scholarship scams from China. The statement noted that ‘Khat’ is compared to cocaine by Chinese authorities.