Ethiopia detains people ‘based on ethnicity’ and denies access to lawyers: Human Rights Commission

Ethiopia appears to be detaining people “based on ethnicity” and holding them incommunicado, a human rights commission has warned. A recent eight-day visit to Ethiopia by the Commission for Human Rights (CHR) reveals that…

Ethiopia detains people ‘based on ethnicity’ and denies access to lawyers: Human Rights Commission

Ethiopia appears to be detaining people “based on ethnicity” and holding them incommunicado, a human rights commission has warned.

A recent eight-day visit to Ethiopia by the Commission for Human Rights (CHR) reveals that nearly 100 individuals, including residents of Addis Ababa and travelers, have been arrested in recent weeks and are being held incommunicado. They were all arrested for “petty misdemeanors,” according to a statement released by the commission.

The detainees reportedly received “forced confessions” during interrogation, and when the initial nine consented to speaking to the CHR staff they were put into a separate, unheated place and handcuffed.

The detained include those from both the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups.

The commission said that some of the detainees have complained of ill-treatment.

“Many of those we spoke to did not know where they were being held until we visited the police station to try to ascertain the truth,” CHRO commissioner Horace Elahwach said.

“Consequently, they were afraid to speak with us freely or to have others know where they were detained,” he added.

The suspects have been accused of “propaganda against the government,” which includes “posting on social media, cartoons, songs and other information posted on the Internet that has insulted the government, prime minister, president, Amhara people and so on.”

Some of the detainees had even been put in jail for simply visiting websites such as Facebook and Twitter, according to a report by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto.

The CHR said it has taken note of the alleged ill-treatment of the detainees.

“While the community development works in Addis Ababa for which these detainees are accused of spreading false information have not yet begun, the personnel who are allegedly responsible for the accusations against them are in custody,” Elahwach said.

“Hopefully, if they are arrested for disseminating false information they will face trial, as they are supposed to,” he added.

Click for more from the Financial Times.

Leave a Comment