Ethiopia Press Notes, November 16, 2021 – Ethiopia

Spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz throssell
Site: Geneva
Dated: November 16, 2021

We are concerned that arrests have continued over the past two weeks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, as well as in Gondar, Bahir Dar and other locations, as police cite overly broad provisions of the state of emergency declared on November 2 to arrest, search and detain people.

These developments are all the more worrying as most of those detained are believed to be people of Tigrayan origin, often arrested on suspicion of affiliation or support to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF).

At least 1,000 people have been reportedly detained over the past week or so – with some reports putting that number much higher.

Conditions of detention are generally reported to be poor, with many detainees being held in overcrowded police stations, in violation of international human rights standards, including minimum standards for the treatment of detainees.

There are worrying reports that many of those detained have not been informed of the reasons for their detention, have not been brought before a court or other tribunal to examine the reasons for their detention and have not been formally charged. We are also concerned about certain reports of ill-treatment in detention.

We demand that the safety of detainees be guaranteed and that they enjoy the full protection of their human rights, including a fair trial and procedural guarantees.

With particular regard to the situation of local UN staff, 10 are still detained along with some 34 drivers contracted by the UN. We demand that all those still detained be immediately released. Either an independent and impartial tribunal or other tribunal should examine the reasons for their detention, or they should be formally charged.

Ethiopia’s state of emergency threatens to worsen an already dire humanitarian and human rights situation in the country. Its provisions are extremely broad, with vague prohibitions going so far as to encompass “indirect moral” support for what the government has termed “terrorist groups.”

In the context of the state of emergency, the judicial control of the application of its provisions is explicitly suspended, and there are extensive powers of arrest and potentially unlimited administrative detention for the duration of the emergency measure, which raises serious concerns about the risks of arbitrary detention.

As the High Commissioner has warned, there are serious risks that such measures, far from stabilizing the situation, will further affect the already compromised delivery of humanitarian aid, aggravate divisions, endanger society. civilians and human rights defenders, provoke greater conflict and only exacerbate the considerable human suffering in Ethiopia.

While the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Ethiopia is a state party, allows certain emergency measures in response to significant threats to the life of the nation, strict requirements must be met.

Administrative detention should be used on an exceptional basis and only against individuals posing a direct and imperative threat, to be determined on a case-by-case basis, subject to procedural safeguards, including, above all, regular independent and impartial review.

Detention should end as soon as the individual no longer poses a threat and should be applied in a non-discriminatory manner.

The arrests and detentions currently taking place in Ethiopia under the state of emergency do not respect these conditions.

In addition, certain rights cannot be derogated from even in a state of emergency, including the right not to be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to life and the right to freedom. equality and non-discrimination.


For more information and media requests, please contact:
Liz Throssell – + 41 22 917 9296 / [email protected] or
Rupert Colville – + 41 22 917 9767 / [email protected] or
Ravina Shamdasani – + 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] or
Marta Hurtado – + 41 22 917 9466 / [email protected]

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