Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) Press Statement - September 23, 2023
Source: EHRCO Press Statemen https://t.me/ehrco/1864
Disclaimer: This is a translation of a press statement issued by the EHRCO in September 23 2023 in Amharic. The translation is intended solely for information purposes.
Human Rights Violations Against Civilians in the Addis Ababa City Administration and Amhara Region Must Stop!
September 23, 2023 (Meskerem 12, 2016 EC)
The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRC) was originally established in 1984 EC (1991-1992 GC) as an indigenous human rights advocacy organization, and since October 21, 2018 (Tikimit 11, 2011 EC) in accordance with the Charity and Organizational Declaration (No. 1113/2011 registration number 1146 was legally registered as a non-government civil society human rights advocacy organization. EHRCO is a non-profit independent human rights defense organization and its objectives are to strengthen a system of democracy within Ethiopia, enforce rule of law and respect for human rights. The organization is an independent non-profit human rights defense institution unaffiliated to any political party, religious institution, ethnic group, and social class. Over the past 30 years, EHRCO has stood for these principles carrying out its universal, national and public obligations to ensure respect for human rights and rule of law, and to promote a democratic system in Ethiopia.
The purpose of this emergency press release is to highlight various human rights abuses in various parts of the country so that the government can enact due improvements
Addis Ababa City Administration
Following unrest in the Amhara Region, state of emergency No. 6/2015 which is used in response to needs in various regions of the country was imposed, and this was followed by a campaign of mass arrests within the Addis Ababa City Administration. These arrests have targeted journalists and parliamentarians in violation of their rights, and have not followed due process and it is also known there are arrest victims whose whereabouts are unknown. The names of detainees and their whereabouts have not been disclosed, and they have not been brought before court. In the case of member of parliament Ato Christian Tadele and Addis Ababa Council member Dr. Kassa Teshager, since the time of their detainment, they were kept at the Federal Police Criminal Investigations Bureau and when they were scheduled to appear at the Lideta Higher Courthouse on August 21, 2023 (Nehase 15, 2015 EC) police prevented them from appearing in court. In addition, Amhara Region Council member Ato Yohannes Buayalew was arrested despite his immunity from prosecution. The whereabouts of journalist Bekalu Alamrew and Ato Daniel Belay are unknown. Regarding these issues, the EHRCO previously issued press statements on August 14 and September 3, 2023 (Nehase 8 and 28, 2015 EC) calling for these problems to be resolved.
The relevant parties failed to take adequate actions to stop these acts and widespread arrests continue in Addis Ababa city, and these arrests have not followed due process and in various cases have involved enforced disappearance, and EHRCO has verified from family members of detainees that a large number of people are being detained in Addis Ababa city. We have been able to confirm that in the ongoing mass arrests which have not followed due process, in many cases the detainees have not been brought before court, and that the whereabouts of many detainees are unknown to family members. We have also been able to verify that public schools have been used as temporary detainment sites and we have sent letters with number ER3-M41/146/23 to the Addis Ababa Education Bureau, letter with number ER3-M41/147/23 to the Federal Police Commission and letter with number ER3-M41/149/23 to the Addis Ababa Police Commission requesting clarification however at the time of this emergency press release they have not been able to provide any response. Various detainment facilities were not designed for that purpose and therefore detained civilians have been subject to serious health problems.
On August 5 and 14, 2023 (Hamle 29 and Nehase 8, 2015 EC), EHRCO issued emergency press releases regarding the conflict which has transpired in Amhara Region calling on the government to take all necessary steps to resolve the conflict through peaceful means in order to stop attacks against civilians and collapse of security in the region which has caused the region to sustained human, social and economic losses. However, at the time of this latest statement from EHRCO, we have come to understand that human rights violations in the area have actually worsened. EHRCO has confirmed from various sources that the worsening of conflict in the area has resulted in large numbers of civilian casualties, property destruction, and reports of government security forces carrying out extrajudicial killings. EHRCO will conduct additional investigations regarding the matters described above and provide additional detailed reporting.
Related Legal Obligations
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) section 3, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) sections 6(1) and 9(1) ensure that all persons have a right to live and the right to safety. In ensuring these rights in accordance with the ICCPR, governments are obligated to ensure these rights are respected and fulfilled as stated in sections 2(1) and 2(2). The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) article 4 states “every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person, and no one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.” The F.D.R.E. Constitution article 14 (Rights to life, the Security of .Person and Liberty) states “every person has the inviolable and inalienable right to life, the security of person and liberty.” Similarly, the F.D.R.E. Constitution article 15 (Right to Life) states “every person has the right to life. No person may be deprived of his life except as a punishment for a serious criminal offence determined by law.” Similarly, F.D.R.E. Constitution article 16 (The Right of the Security of Person) states “every one has the right to protection against bodily harm.” These international, continental and national laws state the government’s primary obligation is respect for, protection of and fulfillment of citizens’ rights. The UDHR and the ICCPR section 9 state persons shall not be detained or arrested outside the law, shall not be deprived of their liberty, during time of their detainment the reasons are communicated to them, and that they should be brought before a judge in a timely manner. The ACHPR article 6 outlines similar provisions. The F.D.R.E. Constitution article 17 (Right to Liberty) states “1. No one shall be deprived of his or her liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law. 2. No person may be subjected to arbitrary arrest, and no person may be detained without a charge or conviction against him.”
Call from EHRCO
Federal Police and Addis Ababa Police personnel must stop mass arrests carried out in the city which have not followed legal procedures, must stop abuse of power, and for violators of these acts to be held accountable;
For Ato Christian Tadele and Dr. Kassa Teshager who were arrested despite their immunity from prosecution (ያለመከሰስ መብታቸው) to be immediately brought before a court and for their right to freedom from prosecution (የአካል ነጻነት መብታቸው) to be respected;
For the government to gauge proportionality of its peace-keeping measures and to distinguish civilians with no involvement to the conflict in Amhara Region;
For mass arrests conducted in Amhara Region to follow laws and for the rights of suspects to be respected;
In order for the conflict in Amhara Region to end in peaceful means, relevant stakeholders should carry out their responsibility and refrain from taking actions to intensify the conflict;
The Federal and Amhara Region Governments to provide due attention to human rights violations against civilians in Amhara Region, to respect persons’ rights to live and ensure protection of their lives;
Before the killing of civilians in Amhara Region, property destruction and overall the lack of peace worsens further, the government and militants should carry out dialogue to bring lasting peace;
The government should conduct investigations regarding extrajudicial killings and take appropriate measures;
In conclusion, regarding the government’s state of emergency No. 6/2015 the EHRCO calls for great care so the door is not opened for misuse of power and misuse of the order to carry out human rights violations
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia