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State of Emergency restrictions partially lifted

State of Emergency in Ethiopia likely to be extended

State of Emergency - Siraj Fergessa - Command Post - Ethiopia
State of Emergency | Secretariat – Siraj Fergessa
Photo – Fana

borkena,Ethiopia News
March 16,2017

Nearly on its six months now, government in Ethiopia announced that it is partially lifting rights restriction imposed on Ethiopians through State of emergency legislation. Siraj Fergessa,minister of defense, is secretariat of the body – “Command Post” – instituted to implement the state of emergency legislation. He appeared on state television yesterday to announce new decision about the SoE legislation. The “Command Post” issued two regulations before in connection to it.

What is changed?

Curfew was imposed at the height of tense political situation that led of the state of emergency legislation in selected areas. Factories, infrastructures and business entities in urban centers and countryside alike were among the lists of places subjected to curfew legislation of SoE. No movement of citizens was allowed after a curfew time in those areas. Security forces were authorized to take “necessary measures” , it is implied that it may include shooting, in the event of breach of the legislation. Under the new regulation, the legislation is take “necessary measure” along with curfew is lifted.
In addition, arresting individuals without arrest warrant,searching residences at any time without court order, restricting views and freedoms of expression and press products are also lifted under the new regulation. And this is where analysts see no significance as it is not uncommon for the government in Ethiopia to arrest individuals or search houses without court order even when there is no SoE legislation.

State of emergency legislation went to the extent of regulating social media usage in Ethiopia. In fact at one point during the anti-government protest social media was entirely blocked in Ethiopia.

Legally registered opposition parties in the country told VOA Amharic that the state of emergency was not necessary in the first place.

Human Rights Groups like Amnesty international and Human Rights Watch have been accusing the government that it exploited the state of emergency legislation to crackdown on dissenting views.

More than fifty thousand Ethiopians were detained in makeshift concentration camps where they were compulsorily “trained on constitution.” However, Ethiopians released from these camps after months of detention reported wide spread physical and psychological torture.

In fact, in parts of Ethiopia like in the case of Gonder region have become intensely militarized zones after the SoE and residents have reported ruthless crackdown and government killings.

Haile Mariam Desalegne - State of Emergency
Hailemariam Desalegne
Source : VOA Amharic

It could be extended

The state of emergency was initially intended for six months. However, government hinted intention to extend it beyond. Apart from “Command Post” Secretariat, Siraj, who hinted in his media appearance, Prime minister Hailemariam Desalenge was explicit in his report to the parliament that there is a need for the extension of some elements of state of emergency legislation. Reason? Government claims that 82 % of Ethiopians are in favour of extended state of emergency rule. Yet, there is no word as to where and when the poll was conducted.

The question is, if the SoE legislation restored peace and stability, as claimed by the government, how can the desire to extend the state of emergency be explained?

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