News: Arrests in connection with SoE appear to be “identity-based” rights commission says

Since the declaration of the state of emergency people were arrested from their workplace, residential homes and on the street and were being held at various police stations in Addis Abeba. 

By Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegay12

Addis Abeba, November 7/ 2021- The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) expressed concerns over the situation of people being arrested in connection with the state of emergency. In a statement released yesterday, the commission said that it is worried about the handling of the people detained in different cities. 

According to the statement, the commission confirmed that EHRC stated that since the declaration of the state of emergency on November 2, 2021 people were arrested from their workplace, residential homes and on the street and were being held at various police stations in Addis Abeba.

Acknowledging the fact that the  state of emergency vested law enforcement agencies the power to detain ‘people who are reasonably suspected of collaborating with terrorist groups’, the commission stated  that its investigation confirmed that the arrests appeared likely to be based on identity/ethnicity. The EHRC further explained that the detainees’ family members were prohibited from visiting, and giving food and clothes. “It is deeply concerning that the incarceration includes mothers with children and the elderly,” the commission said.

EHRC underlined that while implementing and enforcing the directives under the state of emergency proclamation, the law enforcement must exercise their power in a way that commensurate with respect for human rights, such as legitimacy, the need for protection and impartiality 

“The law enforcement is highly responsible to dispose of their duties to respect and protect human rights that are inalienable and irrevocable under any circumstances,” the commission urged, further reminding that, the law enforcement personnel are expected to practice their duties at a higher ethical discipline. 

The commission underscored that a ‘special investigation’ system needs to be put in place to address issues concerning vulnerable groups including the elderly, children, mothers as well as detainees who need medical attention. 

The statement concluded by recalling the EHRC establishment proclamation that gave power to the commission to protect human rights including under a state of emergency. It reminded all concerned bodies that they have the responsibility to support the commission’s investigations activities. AS

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