The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) urged the government of Oromia regional state to bring security forces and regional administration officials involved in the ‘extra-judicial killings’ of fourteen Karrayyu Aba Gadas killed last month, to justice. In its latest report, the commission also pressed the regional government to investigate the killing of eleven Special Forces in the same area.
The report found-out that regional security forces have linked the Aba Gadas with the OLF/Shene, a group designated as terrorists by the House of Peoples’ Representatives.
On December 2, 2022, security forces comprised of regional police, Special Forces, and militia took 39 Aba Gadas to a forest off the Adama-Metehara road, in eastern Shewa zone of Oromia, the report said. Of these, fourteen were killed on the spot by the security forces, according to the report. One of the Aba Gadas died after being beaten in prison and the fourteen were killed a day after eleven security forces were killed by unidentified forces in Fentale woreda of eastern Shewa zone. All of the Aba Gadas abducted by the security forces were men, according to the EHRC.
In days following the incident, the Oromia regional state linked the killings of the Aba Gadas with the OLF/Shene group. However, after the EHRC’s report surfaced, the regional government denied its previous statement.
“We are investigating who is responsible for the killings. We have found various leads and already placed two individuals linked to the cases under custody,” Girma Gelan, deputy commissioner of the Oromia Police Commission, told state television.
“There were many security officials from the regional and zonal government, gathered in the area and communicating via phones, before the Aba Gadas were killed,” stated one of the eyewitnesses the EHRC talked to.
According to legal experts, while it shed light on the depth of insecurity and a weakening justice system in the region, the report has cemented EHRC’s integrity once again.
“The mandate of investigating the killings and serving justice is completely given to the regional government. The federal government cannot involve in the case. We believe the regional Attorney General can pursue the case,” said a legal expert at the Federal Ministry of Justice.