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News: Ethiopia Rights Commission condemns arrest of underage students by police following recent violence in Addis Abeba schools

Picture posted by city police showing school property destruction due to clashes last week. Photo: Addis Abeba Police

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has condemned the arrest of underage students in connection to the violence that rocked primary and secondary schools in Addis Abeba City administration over the past weeks.

Since early December, several schools in various districts in Addis Abeba have seen unrest, some outright violence, in connection with opposition against Oromia regional state anthem and regional flag being displayed in school compounds.

On 12 December, Lydia Girma, Head of the Addis Abeba City Peace and Security Bureau, announced that security forces in the city detained 72 individuals on allegations that they “were working to instigate violence in and around schools” in the city.

In a statement it issued yesterday, EHRC said human rights violations were committed during the arrest of students by the police to control the violence.

“Some students suffered physical and psychological injuries of varying degrees, properties of students and schools were destroyed, and child students were subjected to physical abuse and illegal detention,” it stated, adding that it has confirmed there was no casualty as opposed to some media reports claiming the death of a student in one of the schools affected by the unrest.

According to the statement, the student children, who are mostly under 18 years of age, were arrested even from the beginning and kept in prison for different periods of time, which is inappropriate and disproportionate to the situation.

The detention of many students in police stations where there are no adequate services and where adult suspects are detained does not follow the principles of necessity, legality and proportionality, which violates the rights of children, the commission underscored.

EHRC said the cause of the violence that led to the arrest of students was a dispute between members of the school community, including students with different ideas and interests regarding the purpose of hoisting the flag of Oromia region and singing the regional anthem in the schools.

The commission stated that forcibly hoisting the flag of another regional state in Addis Abeba has no legal basis and is an act that creates unnecessary controversy and violence that threatens the violation of human rights.

It also urged the government to identify, consider and prevent or reduce the negative effects of decisions, regulations, programs, policies or procedures that may affect human rights before their implementation. AS

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