News: Gov’t obstruction hampers human rights investigations, says Rights Council

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) revealed this week that its efforts to investigate alleged human rights violations in Ethiopia have been severely impeded by obstruction from governmental authorities.

In a statement released yesterday, the Council outlined the systematic and growing barriers it has faced in trying to investigate reported rights violations through on-site monitoring and interviews.

The Council stated that over the past two years, it has attempted to follow proper procedures and submit formal information requests and pleas for access to federal and regional governmental bodies where alleged abuses have occurred. However, the Council has faced silence, rejections, or outright refusal to accept letters of request from police, security, and detention authorities.

Specifically, the Council filed petitions in March and April 2021 to the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Peace seeking authorization to visit locations and meet witnesses to examine reports of violations related to the war in the Tigray region. With no cooperation from the ministries, EHRCO said it was unable to carry out research into the alleged abuses.

The Council also disclosed that letters this year petitioning the Addis Abeba Police Commission, the Oromia Regional State Government, and other authorities for monitoring permissions have been ignored. This has obstructed its duties to access sites like police stations and detention centers where violations have been reported, according to the Council.

EHRCO indicated that it has also faced categorical prohibition when requesting access to informal detention facilities like Awash Arba, where alarming accounts of severe rights abuses have emerged. While some engagement has occurred, such as the Oromia Attorney General Office recently granting prison access, EHRCO says overall restrictions on information sharing and permission for its work remain the norm.

The statement concludes by urging the federal and regional governments to refrain from impeding EHRCO’s operations and to contribute to ensuring respect for human rights by enabling the independent monitoring and fact-finding role of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council. AS

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