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Ethiopian Human Rights Commission released annual report

In a first of its kind Human Rights Situation Report on Ethiopia EHRC submitted to the House of Peoples’ Representatives the Commission call for government to protect, respect and guarantee human rights at all times

Ethiopian Human Rights
Recurring ethnic bases massacre has claimed thousands of innocent lives in Wollega, Ethiopia. The security problem has also displaced thousands of Ethiopians. Image credit : Ethiopian Human Rights Commission

EHRC

In the report submitted to the House of Peoples’ Representatives (Parliament) the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission indicates that the report includes encouraging measures taken and issues requiring urgent solutions identified through the Commission’s monitoring, investigation, awareness raising, studies/assessments and other activities that it carried during the just concluded Ethiopian fiscal year.

Underlining that the current context in the country makes for fast changing and developing factors and circumstances, the Commission notes in its report that several human rights violations have been committed during the reporting period.

The report details a number of grave human rights violations committed both by state and non state actors in the context of conflict that resulted in widespread deaths, psychosocial and physical injury, sexual and gender based violence, displacement and destruction of property, targeting civilians, including women, children, older persons and persons with disability and carried out in extreme brutality and cruelty.  

In the context of the war in Ethiopia, all parties to the conflicted have committed serious international human rights and humanitarian law violations against civilians. In areas where the conflict took place, the right to live, the right to security of person, the right to justice, the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and/or punishment have been violated by government forces, Tigray forces and other armed groups. Although a large number of victims of these violations are civilians, captured members of parties to these conflicts have also been subjected to these violations. In other regions of the country, in some police stations and irregular places of detention, detainees have been subject to unlawful treatment, extended pre-trial detention and beatings. 

In connection with the state of emergency that was in force for a time during the period covered by the report, and in many parts of the country, widespread arbitrary and unlawful detentions, detentions in irregular places of detention, denying of visitation rights and extended pre-trial detentions have taken place. In addition, in some areas, court orders have been ignored and people have continued to be detained despite and in violation of court bail orders and even after prosecution has dropped charges.

While, in many parts of the country, nearly all of the persons detained in connection with the state of emergency have been, in Afar Region, nearly 9000 residents of ethnic Tigray origin were rounded up and removed from Kilbeti Resu Zone in December, 2021 and remain, as of the date of publication of this report, held against their will in two camps in Semera city (Agatina and Semera Camps). Afar security authorities claim the move was part of a drive to “ensure their safety and to facilitate the investigation and identification of persons that took part in criminal activities”. The report also indicates that the limited access to/provision of humanitarian and medical care in the camps has resulted in the loss of lives.

In Afar, Amhara and Tigray regions where the conflict took place, interruption of basic services, the destruction of health and education facilities as well as on private property, the interruption of productive activities in many of these areas and large scale displacement caused by the conflict are all adding to the negative impact on socio-economic rights, including the right to food, health and education. In Oromia and Somali regions, the drought in some parts of the regions have stretched the capacity of government and nongovernment organizations to provide humanitarian assistance.

Over 4 million internally displaced persons still await durable solutions and depend on humanitarian assistance, the availability and other aspects of which are themselves impacted by the overall human rights situation in the country; an impact which is also felt by host communities. In similar vein, the report also stresses that the rights women, children, older persons and persons with disability need the urgent and deliberate attention of government authorities.

With regards to freedom of opinion, thought, expression and the right to seek information the Commission’s monitoring work also found that at various times between the months of July 2021 and May 2022, 54 media personnel, including 15 reported to be in detention in Tigray region, have been arrested and detained for a period ranging from days to months.  

At the July 8, 2022 press conference to officially launch the Human Rights Situation in Ethiopia Report also covers an overall assessment of the 6 National Elections that took place during the concluded fiscal year, findings based on the Commission’s work in handling individual complaints, the situation of persons deprived of their liberty and held in irregular places of detention, police stations and prisons.  

In addition to human rights violations committed by government bodies/authorities, non-state actors are responsible for large scale human rights violations. The Commission’s monitoring and investigation work also shows that in the context of the war in Northern Ethiopia and conflicts in other parts of the country, armed groups, non organized groups and individuals have carried out ethnic or religious motivated killings, physical injury, forced displacement and destruction or looting of property against civilians. 

In his foreword to the report, EHRC Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele notes “It is a reminder that, since political disagreements/instability are at the root of the overall context of war, conflicts and widespread attacks against civilians that Ethiopia finds itself in at this time, political solutions are an inevitable part of sustainable solutions”. 

Adding that the report is based on findings from the Commission’s monitoring and investigation work, advocacy, documentation, assessment, human rights education related activities during the just concluded fiscal year as a result of which it is bound to have temporal, geographic and human rights issues coverage limitations, Daniel Bekele also said “ Though this first annual human rights situation report does not purport to be an exhaustive list of incidents of human rights violations, it provides a comprehensive overview of human rights concerns that require immediate and urgent attention. As such, and with the recommendations it puts forth, the report is a useful tool for federal and regional governments in particular to review and take corrective measures in their respective area of work.” The Chief Commissioner also indicated that the report also aims to contribute to the work of both national and international organizations.
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