Concern about Ethiopian detention under state of emergency


Ethiopia’s state-appointed rights commission said some human rights were not being upheld during the current national state of emergency and expressed concern about conditions in detention centres it is unable to access.

Ethiopia declared a state of emergency on November 2, a year after conflict erupted between the federal government and forces aligned with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the political party controlling the northern region Tigray.

“Overall in its investigation, the commission found the state of emergency was not executed in a manner that upholds the principles of human rights such as ‘utmost necessity, proportionality and impartiality’,” Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said in a statement.

The six-month state of emergency allows suspects to be detained without trial for as long as the proclamation lasts and allows house-to-house searches without a warrant.

Thousands of people are estimated arrested across Addis Ababa since the state of emergency was declared, EHRC said.

EHRC said it was denied access to many detention centres.

Most detainees are held in police stations and when they get too full, in youth centres and schools, EHRC said, adding some are taken to Aba Samuel high security prison.

EHRC obtained complete data from Kirkos, an Addis Ababa district, where 714 people were detained as of November 11.

It called for the immediate release of vulnerable detainees including the elderly and breast-feeding mothers.

Detainees, many of whom are Tigrayan, believe they were arrested for their ethnicity, the EHRC said. Police previously said the arrests were not ethnically motivated but are aimed at detaining TPLF supporters.

Some detention centres are overcrowded and do not provide adequate access to health care, EHRC said.