The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) warns a surge in violence by armed groups, harsh government security measures and unrest are exacerbating human rights suffering and violations across Ethiopia.
The watchdog says signs point to slipping back on rights protections.
Long-running assaults, conflict and insecurity “aggravate Ethiopia’s plight and human rights abuses,” the commission said.
“Numerous ongoing violations including torture, inhumane treatment, forced disappearances, arbitrary detention and arbitrary curbs on freedoms “pose a threat to respect for human rights across Ethiopia,” it warned.
At a press conference, Commissioner Daniel Bekele (PhD) noted there have been ongoing rights violations in the Amhara and Oromia regions “on a large scale,” including significant kidnapping, cruelty and violence.
Among the many cases cited: Conflicts and attacks in at least 10 zones of Oromia; violence during the announcement of integrating Amhara region special forces; police storming protests against water shortages in Wolkite town; security forces during protests over mosque demolitions in recently established Sheger City.
The Commission warns that rights protections are slipping backwards as abuses mount across the country.
“The number of unofficial detention facilities for suspected criminals, wrongful detentions and restricted access to detainees has surged at an alarming rate, endangering other rights and deteriorating Ethiopia’s human rights situation,” Commissioner Daniel Bekele told reporters.
Daniel also expressed alarm at the high civilian death toll, injuries and suffering in parts of the Oromia region, demanding “immediate, effective and commensurate regional and federal intervention, including thorough and impartial investigations.”
Despite hopes from the Pretoria peace deal and transitional justice plans, Daniel said the commission has seen no significant action to improve rights in Ethiopia. Instead, signs point to backsliding, he warned.
However, Daniel said these should not be a “road to hopelessness and retreat.”
The commission urged all parties to ensure the transitional justice policy framework and system the Ministry of Justice is establishing is “victim-centered, credible, transparent and in line with regional and international human rights norms and principles.”