Addis Abeba – Ethiopian Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) latest report on rights abuses againist civilians, especially in the Amhara region, in the context of the ongoing militarized conflict between federal forces and the non-state militia, Fano, revealed that the armed conflict has spread to different districts of the region causing immeasurable damages to civilians, which “continues to worsen.”
The report details abuses including “extrajudicial killings by government security forces”, which it said were “extremely concerning.”
During the last weeks of August and the first week of September, “several civilians were killed and injured” and properties were damaged in areas including in East Gojam Zone, Debre Markos City; North Gojam Zone, Adet and Marawi; South Gonder Zone, Debretabor; Central Gonder Zone Delgi; North Showa Zone, Majete, Showa Robit and Antsiochia cities; as well as some rural villages in the surroundings. “Among those who were killed in gunfights or heavy weapons include those who were found “in the streets and in the farmlands, as well as people who were in their homes,” according to families and eyewitnesses.
In the context of the armed conflict, the report also confirmed widespread “extrajudicial killings by government security forces” in various parts of the region are “extremely concerning.”
From mid-July to the first week of August widespread extrajudicial killings were conducted in Adet, Debremarkos, Debre Tabor, Jigga, Lemi, Majete, Merawi, Merto Lemaryam and Shoa Robit cities. Among the victims included “people who were arrested during a house-to-house search, unarmed people who were found on the streets during the conflict”, and people were arrested allegedly accused of hiding weapons. It also included “civilians caught violating curfews” and detained members of the Fano armed group.
The Commission said a “thorough investigation by the Commission and the Emergency Board of Inquiry committee is required.”
Furthermore, the Commission revealed that apart from the detentions and the places of detentions officially announced by the State of Emergency Command Post, there are “widespread and arbitrary arrests by government security forces” especially in the Amhara region, Oromia region and Addis Abeba city. Gonder, Lalibela, Mekaneselam, Kobo and Shewa Robit cities in Amhara region are named where arbitrary arrests were made. Similar detentions are also made in Oromia region, especially in the newly formed Sheger city as well as the capital Addis Abeba city.
Although some of these detainees were released after various periods of time, including those who were held at the South Regional Police Training College compound in Abosto. “Unknown number of people” remain in detentions. majority of them are civilians whoa re detained by government security forces “usually accused of supporting the armed group” and/or hiding weapons.”
There are also many homeless civilians, including children and women who came from different regions and were detained in Sida Awash Woreda, Gelan Kifle Ketema in Sheger City, both before and after the declaration of the state of emergency. Of those taken to this center, 29 people were released after they were identified with their ID cards. Some of them returned to the areas they came from through rehabilitation programs, the Commission said. With regard to “infectious disease” outbreak in the center, the Commission said “it was brought under control,” but didn’t name the name of the disease.
The Commission said it “continue to monitor the implementation of” its recommendations made in the past on finding a “permanent solution” to the problem of homelessness, especially of children.
EHRC cautions that actions taken by any side in the context of the ongoing conflict should “completely avoid targeting civilians or infrastructure, including prevention or disruption of social and economic activities, and ensure appropriate protection for civilians. It also calls on the protection of “the right to life and the right to be protected from inhuman treatment.”
The necessary investigations should also be carried out on those involved in the killing of civilians and arbitrary arrests, in order to ensure accountability, the Commission further said.
In the cases involving people detained against the outside of the reaches of the state of emergency command post, the Commission said their cases should be seen by regular administration of criminal justice. Similarly, those arrested under the state of emergency proclamation should also get justice speedy by completing the investigation timely.
The Commission once again urged that all measures taken in the context of implementing the state of emergency especially detentions and curfew implementations, “should be guided by the basic principles of necessity, proportionality, non-discrimination and legality.” AS