September 10, 2020
Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE) has issued this press statement on the basis of the major human rights situations in August 2020. AHRE is deeply concerned about the human rights situations in Ethiopia.
Government officials and several Human Rights defenders have confirmed that many civilians have been killed and injured in Wolita zone of the southern Nations, Nationalities and people’s region (SNNRP) in protests erupted following the request to establish separate statehood. As some reported, the use of excessive force by security forces has resulted in many deaths and injuries.
On the other hand, in the Oromia region, people lost their lives as a result of clashes between protestors and security forces. On a press statement released August 20, 2020 the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) called out for security forces to comply with their obligations and avoid using excessive force against protestors.
Despite EHRC’s encouraging attempt to investigate the breach of peace and human rights violations that resulted from the murder of singer Hachallu Hundessa, a full report on the matter has yet to be given. A statement released on August 15, 2020 by the Commission noted that in some parts of Oromia, victims were still at risk of violence based on information received from the residents.
The statement further added that a large number of people have been apprehended and detained in prisons found in different parts of the Oromia region. The Commission also expressed deep concerns over human rights violation and treatment in some of these prisons.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country the Ethiopian government has declared a state of emergency which is expected to limit basic human rights specially the right to public gatherings. However, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia observed complaints from various parties about the inconsistency in the implementation of rules. Several political parties called out the actions of the government to be unfair and partial concerning measures taken in off-putting press releases and meetings called by other bodies, especially political parties while meetings organized by the government faced no restrictions.
Therefore, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia urges the authorities to:
- Make sure that security forces comply with the standards of the rule of law and their responsibilities to serve and protect people and exercise the utmost restraint to avoid using excessive force on protestors who are acting within their rights.
- We also urge authorities to carry out impartial investigations and prosecute those responsible for abuses and allow victims and their families to receive due justice.
- We urge Ethiopian Human Rights’ Commission, Federal and Regional governments must conduct impartial and prompt investigation on allegations of abuses and notable excessive use of force and provide public reports on the results of their investigations and undertaken measures on those responsible.
- Provide adequate protection to prevent further assaults on victims living in some parts of Oromia where the prior attacks took place following the assassination of Artist Hachallu Hundessa and take appropriate legal actions against groups that are carrying out threats and intimidations.
- Given the gravity of the unrest, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia understand the limitations on the capacity of the government on the context of the Oromia Crisis. However, the treatments and basic rights of detainees should not be neglected. Therefore, we ask the authorities to resolve these issues with urgency.
- The implementation of the state of emergency following the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country should be carried out without any discrimination. We ask authorities to resolve impartial treatments against other bodies, specially opposition parties and civic societies and urge that fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens to be fully implemented.