News: Ethiopian Human Rights Council raises concern over alarming surge in abductions, attacks in Oromia region

Established in 1991, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council is the oldest independent human rights organization in Ethiopia (EHRCO/Facebook)

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) has expressed serious concern over the escalating number of abductions and attacks carried out by armed groups, predominantly in the Oromia region. Despite repeated appeals to federal and regional authorities to intervene and halt these activities, attacks on Ethiopian citizens and foreigners persist unabated, demonstrating a failure to adequately protect human rights and ensure security, the non-governmental rights group said.

The Council’s statement, released yesterday, highlights that armed groups have been engaging in disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests, and other forms of abuse, particularly in the Oromia region.

The Council has strongly declared that when citizens are abducted, their fundamental human rights, such as the right to life, liberty, physical integrity, and due process, are gravely violated. The statement emphasizes that “abductees often endure torture, cruel treatment, and detainment under inhumane conditions, constituting severe crimes against human dignity.”

Although enforced disappearance is considered a serious offense under the Ethiopian constitution, the Council has noted that Ethiopia has yet to ratify the international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance. This convention clearly defines enforced disappearance as a violation of human rights and mandates that states hold the perpetrators legally accountable.

In light of these violations, the Council has called upon federal and regional authorities to promptly condemn the abuses, bring the responsible individuals to justice, and implement measures to safeguard communities from further threats. Furthermore, the Council has pledged to release a more comprehensive report following further investigations into the crisis. The human rights group also expressed its willingness to assist authorities in crafting stronger laws and policies to address disappearances, uphold human rights protections, and restore security.

A week ago, Addis Standard reported a significant increase in abductions of citizens, government employees, and foreign nationals in the Oromia region by armed groups demanding ransoms. While the government attributes these actions to the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), the armed group denies any involvement.

Experts warn that if left unaddressed, this crisis could significantly hinder mobility and socio-economic activities. They advocate for a thorough understanding of the root causes behind these abductions and improved security coordination to effectively combat the distressing rise in such incidents. AS

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