By Staff Reporter
ADDIS ABABA – (BORKENA) – Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has called for speedy measures to stop harms, extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests being perpetrated by government security forces in Amhara Region. The Commission said in a statement it released here yesterday that injuries to civilians, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary detention carried out by government security forces in various parts of the region are very serious and among the most pressing issues.
The Commission observed based on information gathered from residents, victims and their families including eyewitnesses that the armed conflict has spread to different Weredas of Amhara Region. The damage being inflicted to the residents has continued to worsen, EHRC stated in its official statement.
Particularly from 25 August to 05 September 2023 many civilians were killed, sustained physical injuries and properties were damaged in Debre-Markos, Adet, Marawi, Debre-Tabor, Delgi, Majete, Showa-Robit and Antsokia Towns including some rural Kebeles. Families and eyewitnesses say that among those who were killed during exchange of fire are people working on roads and farms, including those who were at homes.
The Commission said that victims of extra-judicial killings carried out from 31 July to 10 August 2023 include people who were arrested during a house-to-house search, unarmed citizens who were rounded up from streets during the conflict, others who were asked to bring their “hidden weapons”, civilians who were caught breaking curfews, and members of the armed militant (commonly known as Fano) who have been arrested Especially in Adet, Debre-Markos, Debre-Tabor, Jigga, Lemi, Majete, Merawi, Mertu-Lemariyam and Shewa-Robit Towns. This needs to be fully investigated by the Commission and the State of Emergency Inquiry Board, according to EHRC.
Apart from the arrests and “detention” camps officially confirmed by the Command Post Department of the State of Emergency, there have been widespread and arbitrary arrests by government security forces in Amhara and Oromia Regions including Addis Ababa, Gondar, Lalibela, Mekane-Selam, Kobo and Shewa-Robit Towns, according to the Commission. The arbitrary arrests of “Amharas” have also been made in the Oromia Region, especially in Sheger Town and Addis Ababa.
Although some of these detainees were released, an unidentified number of people were still in detention camps at the time of the release of this statement including those held at the South Region Police Training College compound (commonly known as Abosto). People who are arrested by government security forces are usually accused of “supporting the armed group” and/or “hiding weapons”.
A number of homeless residents, including children and women who were rounded up from streets were detained in the makeshift detention centres located in Sida-Awash Woreda in Gelan sub-city, Sheger Town of Oromia Region. Out of these detainees, 29 people were discerned by their IDs and released. The Commission has also indicated that the outbreak of the communicable disease within the detention centre has been put under control.
EHRC has already visited on 1st September 2023 the people who were detained in the West Command military Training Camp of the Ministry of National Defence Force in Awash-Arba. The Commission pledged to do the same to other detention camps.
Therefore, to resolve the conflict in a sustainable manner including prioritising all the peaceful options available:
- Actions taken by any party should completely avoid targeting civilians or infrastructure, including prevention of disruption of social and economic activities, to ensure appropriate protection for civilians; to respect inalienable rights, especially the right to life and the right to be protected from inhuman treatment
- The necessary investigations should be carried out on the parties involved in the killing of civilians and arbitrary arrests, and accountability should be confirmed.
- Ensure that the case is handled by the regular administration of criminal justice in relation to people who have been arrested without the order of the State of Emergency. This is done to confirm the right of those arrested to get justice.
- Measures taken to implement the State of Emergency, especially the enforcement of arrests and curfews, should be guided by the basic principles of necessity, proportionality, non-discrimination and legality.
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