Source: EHRCO Press Statement https://t.me/ehrco/2029
Disclaimer: This is a translation of a press statement issued by the EHRCO in February 6, 2024 in Amharic. The translation is intended solely for information purposes.
Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO)
Urgent Press Release
Urgent attention needed for human rights matters
February 6, 2024 (Tir 28, 2016 EC)
Human rights violations in Amhara Region
The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) has closely followed human rights violations which have transpired in the conflict in the Amhara National Regional State and has repeatedly issued statements and has called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. However conflict in the region has worsened over time and without adequate attention to resolve it, extensive human rights violations have continued to unfold.
Among the areas where conflict has repeatedly transpired is the West Gojjam Zone of Amhara Region including Merawi town where on January 29, 2024 (Tir 20, 2016 EC) armed conflict between government security forces and armed groups led to serious human rights violations according to information received by EHRCO. As a result of this conflict, transportation services in Merawi town were completely suspended, and civilians with no involvement in the fighting suffered killings, injuries, physical beatings, threats and other human rights violations.
As a result of conflict in the area more than 80 civilians who had no involvement in the fighting, including two women were killed. The killings were triggered by intense gunfire exchange [between ENDF and Fano] which took place before. In addition, EHRCO verified that house-to-house killings were carried out based on information gathered from the area. During the conflict, physical beatings were carried out on disabled persons and among the killed victims was a 17-year-old child according to eyewitnesses.
According to information EHRCO received from eyewitnesses, a house-to-house operation was carried out in which males were dragged outside of their homes and killed, and starting from January 30, 2024 (Tir 21, 2016 EC) bodies of the deceased were buried en masse in the Maryam Church of Merawi town. Even in this process, local residents were forced to leave the area as a result of extensive human rights violations based on information received from the area, however EHRCO has been unable to verify the information above through on-site investigations.
EHRCO will conduct additional investigations in the area as soon as the security situation allows.
Concerns related to the extension of the state of emergency declaration
As it is known following the outbreak of conflict in the Amhara Region the government passed a state of emergency declaration effective August 14, 2023 (Nehase 8, 2015 EC) for Amhara Region and other parts of the country as needed.
The EHRCO has closely followed the implementation of the declaration and has come to understand that law enforcement forces have used their expanded authority to carry out widespread human rights violations and particularly arrests in various parts of the country, particularly in Amhara Region and Addis Ababa city.
Although a command post was established for the implementation of the state of emergency, the command post has not provided sufficient information. For example, in accordance with the declaration, it is necessary to provide names and locations of detained individuals. Similarly, the failure to state locations where the declaration is in effect invites undue rights violations.
EHRCO has concerns that following the extension of the state of emergency for four months effective February 2, 2024 (Tir 24, 2015 EC), improper implementation could lead to undue use of government authority leading to human rights violations. EHRCO continues to call on the government to refrain from using the declaration as a cover to carry out human rights violations and for the established command to fulfill its responsibilities. In addition, EHRCO calls for an end to illegal mass arrests and other human rights violations in connection with the state of emergency.
Related legal provisions
The FDRE constitution article 14 states, “every person has the inviolable and inalienable right to life, the security of person and liberty” Similarly, FDRE article 15 states, “every person has the right to life. No person may be deprived of his life except as a punishment for a serious criminal offense determined by law”. Ethiopia as a signatory country to these international and continental human rights treaties is obliged to adhere to and fulfill these obligations.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) article 3 ensures, “everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person.” Ethiopia is signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which ensures these rights articles 6(1) and 9(1) and ensures governments respect, enforce and fulfill the rights guaranteed by the covenant as ensured in article 2(1) and 2(2).
The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights article 4 ensures “human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.”
The UDHR article 3 and ICCPR articles 6(1) and 9(1) ensure that all persons have the right to life, physical security and protection. ICCPR in articles 2(1) and 2(2) ensure signatory countries have an obligation to preserve the outlined rights within their borders.
EHRCO calls for:
all belligerents to the conflict in the Amhara National Regional State to strive for a peaceful resolution;
peaceful resolution to efforts initiated to resolve the conflict in the region by peaceful means;
all belligerents to the conflict to refrain from targeting persons or property with no involvement in the fighting;
all belligerents to the conflict to refrain from mass killings of persons with no involvement in the fighting and for any persons in violation of this rule to be held accountable by law;
the state of emergency implementation command to only serve its stated purpose and follow proper means, and to stop human rights violations perpetrated in accordance with the declaration.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia