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News: OFC central committee member held in police custody for more than a week without court hearing: family member

Shamen Begna, central committee member of the Oromo Federalist Congress (Photo: Social Media)

Addis Abeba – Shamen Begna, a central committee member of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), has been held in police detention for more than a week without being formally brought before a court, according to a family member who spoke with Addis Standard.

According to Shamen’s spouse, Medina Bashir, he was apprehended by law enforcement officials on the evening of 17 April, 2024, at approximately 7:00 p.m. while socializing at a cafe with acquaintances.

Medina informed Addis Standard that the authorities cited the presence of an image of an Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) flag on Shamen’s mobile device as the reason for his arrest. However, she raised doubts regarding whether this singular reason justified her husband’s prolonged detention without a judicial review.

Shamen, who holds a position on the executive committee of the OFC’s East Shewa branch, is a lecturer of law at Arsi University and is currently pursuing his PhD at Addis Abeba University. He has been held in custody at a police station in Adama City since his arrest on 17 April.

OFC spokesman Sultan Kasim verified Shamen’s detainment and indicated that several other party leaders have been in custody across different zones and districts of the Oromia region for a considerable duration, with the whereabouts of some individuals still unaccounted for.

Among the detained party officials are Girma Chala, Sima Chala, Dejene Girma, Kebede Wakjira, Mohammed Doyyo, Melesse Chala, and Filkadu Ayyana.

As per the spokesperson, the party has lodged appeals with both the National Election Board of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission; however, no response has been forthcoming.

Sultan is of the opinion that the detention of these leaders lacks justification and perceives the ongoing process as a deliberate effort to “marginalize the OFC from the political sphere” by curtailing the party’s engagements at the zonal and district levels and shuttering its offices.

Shamen’s apprehension occurs in the backdrop of concerns outlined in the 2023 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Ethiopia by the US State Department. The report underscored the emergence of enforced disappearances as a significant issue and brought attention to the widespread occurrence of arbitrary arrest and detention without proper legal procedures.

It noted that a large number of individuals from ethnic groups such as the Oromo and Amhara were allegedly taken into custody and held in makeshift facilities under adverse conditions.

Additionally, the report accused security forces of systematically employing torture techniques during interrogations to extract confessions. These methods included beatings, the imposition of stress positions, and other forms of harsh treatment, both within official detention centers and unofficial locations. AS

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