Britain spends millions on Ethiopian ‘special police’ linked to abuses

Britain is spending millions of pounds from its foreign aid budget on training Ethiopian paramilitaries that have been accused of human rights abuses including summary killings, rape and torture.

By Sam Marsden
The Telegraph
January 11,2013

A government security force known as the “special police” operating in the eastern Ogaden region will be supported as part of a UK-funded “peace and development programme” lasting five years and costing up to £15 million.

A leaked Department for International Development document warns of the “reputational risks” of working with organisations that are “frequently cited in human rights violation allegations”, The Guardian reported.

The special police, who are up to 14,000-strong, have led the Ethiopian government’s counter-insurgency campaign in Ogaden, a troubled region largely populated by ethnic Somalis.
However, the campaign group Human Rights Watch has recorded repeated serious allegations of human rights abuses against them.

Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher, said it was highly concerning that Britain was planning to work with the paramilitary force.

“There is no doubt that the special police have become a significant source of fear in the region,” she told The Guardian.

A Department for International Development spokesman said: “The peace and development programme will be delivered in partnership with non-governmental organisations and United Nations organisations, and no funding will go through the government of Ethiopia.”

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