Addis Abeba, November 17, 2021- At yesterday’s Geneva briefing, the spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Liz Throssell stated that contrary to arrests and detentions currently occurring in Ethiopia under the powers of the state of emergency, detention must be ended as soon as the individual no longer represents a threat and should be applied in a non-discriminatory way. “Certain rights are non-derogable even in a state of emergency, including freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to life and the right to equality and non-discrimination,” the spokesperson said.
At the press briefing, the UN human rights office spokesperson discussed the arrests that have been going on in Addis Abeba and other cities such as Gondar and Bahir dar, pointing out that the arrests targeted ‘people of Tigrayan origin, often on suspicion of being affiliated to or supporting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).’ The spokesperson explained that the condition of detainees is in violation of international human rights standards, including minimum standards related to the treatment of detainees. “Many of those detained have not been informed of the reasons for their detention, nor have they been brought before a court of law or other tribunal to review the reasons for their detention, and have not been formally charged,” she said.
“Certain rights are non-derogable even in a state of emergency, including freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to life and the right to equality and non-discrimination.”Liz Throssell, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
The spokesperson of the UN human rights body recalled that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Ethiopia is a State party, allows for certain emergency measures in response to significant threats to the life of the nation, strict requirements must be met. However, she cautioned that administrative detention should be used on an exceptional basis and only against individuals representing a direct and imperative threat, to be determined on a case by case basis, subject to procedural guarantees, including most importantly regular independent and impartial review.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called for detainees’ right to protection of human rights including fair trial and procedural guarantees. The UN human rights body also called for all those still in detention to be immediately released. It demanded their speedy trial, “A court or other independent and impartial tribunal should review the reasons for their detention, or they should be formally charged.”
The UN human rights body spokesperson noted that the provisions in the state of emergency proclamation are ‘extremely broad’, further explaining its ‘vague prohibitions’ including “indirect moral” support for what the government has labelled “terrorist groups”. “Under the state of emergency, judicial review of enforcement of its provisions is explicitly suspended,” the spokesperson underlined, expressing serious concerns over potentially indefinite administrative detention for the duration of the emergency measure The UN human rights body warned that implementing such measures is far from stabilizing the situation. “It will further affect the already compromised delivery of humanitarian aid, deepen divisions, endanger civil society and human rights defenders, provoke greater conflict and only add to the considerable human suffering in Ethiopia,” the spokesperson said.
The issues raised by the UN high commissioner for human rights is corroborated by Amnesty International and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) who both revealed in their reports the sub standard handling of detainees who were arrested in the light of the state of emergency that was declared on November 2. AS