Human Rights officers were arrested when attempting to investigate the unlawful demolition of residents in the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital
Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO), a pioneer human rights organization operating for over 31 years, is under increasing pressure.
This time is facing harassment from Oromia regional state – where tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been massacred by what the regional state calls “OLF -Shane”
On January 5, 2023, the rights group deployed three human rights advocates/officers on the outskirts of Addis Ababa after residents whose residential houses were being demolished by the regional state reported the matter. The mission to investigate it.
However, the authorities in the area arrested human rights officers and an EHRCO driver. Their whereabouts were not immediately clear.
EHRCO’s statement, in which it demanded the unconditional release of its employees, said that it found out that they were arrested in what used to be Alem Gena 2nd police station – now Gelan Gudan sub-city under the new Sheger City Administration whose council took an oath this week.
The arrest was unlawful for it happened under circumstances where the rights group workers were deployed to investigate rights abuse.
From the statement, the human rights workers appeared in court the same day. They appeared again in court on January 10. Police requested an extra two weeks for an investigation but the court did not allow it.
The rights workers are expected to be released on bail when they appear in court again on January 11.
The rights group argued that the organization was established in accordance with a statute. Highlighting the challenges in connection with government pressure it experienced in its 31 years of service, it said there has been some improvement following the reform measure under the government.
However, it said, recently the attack and pressure against EHRCO have been increasing. The intimidation of EHRCO Gambella branch workers and the unlawful arrest of the human rights workers indicates that the state of human rights condition is worsening. It also cited the arrest of 22 citizens who came to the Addis Ababa office to report rights abuse as something that indicates how the work of EHRCO is under pressure.
Ethiopia’s Federal government has been priding itself on a range of reform measures about the creation of “strong institutions” including in the law enforcement agencies but his government proved to be weak ( or unwilling ) in terms of enforcing the rule of law.
Non-state actors massacre civilians as they please in the Oromia region. At times government authorities act unlawfully, oftentimes with impunity, in what appears to be a pursuit of radical ethnic nationalistic agenda. The recent imposition of the Oromia region flag and anthem on schools across Addis Ababa which led to the arrest of hundreds of students and teachers is another recent example to showcase the matter.
This week, Oromia regional authorities officially launched the establishment of Sheger city, which surrounds Addis Ababa from all directions, and the plan to build one million houses. At the same time, some residents who have been living on the outskirts of Addis Ababa are helplessly witnessing the demolition of their residential houses.
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