Friday, June 14, 2024
NewsRights Commission calls for investigation into violations committed under state of emergency

Rights Commission calls for investigation into violations committed under state of emergency

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has requested the government to lift restrictions following the expiration of a state of emergency this week, 10 months after it was first introduced.

The state of emergency was declared in August last year following the eruption of conflict in the Amhara region, although the state of emergency has been implemented in other parts of the country as well. It was initially slated to last six months, but the Council of Ministers chose to extend it by an additional four months in February.

A statement issued by the Commission on June 5, 2024, says that although the state of emergency has expired, measures and restrictions introduced during its 10-month tenure have yet to be lifted.

EHRC recently published an intensive report following an investigation into the state of emergency. The investigation discovered wide gaps particularly regarding human rights violations committed by the government.

The Commission’s statement calls for the release of a significant number of people who were arrested during the state of emergency. It also calls for the government to move to reverse the embargos, curfews and other restrictions introduced over the last 10 months.

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The Commission says it has found evidence of several human rights violations committed in the Amhara and Oromia regions during the state of emergency. Extrajudicial killings, arbitrarily imprisonments, kidnapping, forced disappearance, as well as various kinds of bodily harms are widely registered. Heavy artillery shelling and air raids on civilian areas also took place, according to EHRC.

The human and economic damage is significant, states the report. Armed groups in Oromia and Amhara, as well as government forces are implicated.

Apart from the protracted conflicts in Amhara and Oromia, new conflicts are also registered in Afar, Somali, Sidama, southern Ethiopia and central Ethiopia.

Cases of extrajudicial killings include an instance when government security forces opened fire on students in Mecha Woreda, Amhara region, and killed 11 students.

“There were no armed groups in the area at the time,” states the EHRC report released last week.

Similarly, violations in Oromia include the “killing of civilians, bodily harm, damaging of properties, burning of houses, and looting of livestock and vehicles.”

“In Addis Ababa alone, EHRC received reports of 42 individuals taken by government security forces during the state of emergency and their whereabouts are unknown,” reads the report. “The missing people are not found in detention centers.”

Most of the forced disappearance and imprisonments are conducted by government security forces without court notice, according to the report. It relates that some of the people who were forcibly taken are eventually released, sometimes after months in detention, but they do not know where they were being held as their faces and eyes were covered.

A member of Parliament named Habtamu Belayneh Mekonen is among those who have been detained forcibly.

EHRC has requested an investigation into the violations committed and called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict between the government and various armed forces.

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