March 10, 2014

Ogaden: New Accountability Requirements for Human Rights Violations In Ethiopia

In its 2013 report, the U.S Department of State has put the spotlight on the issue of human rights violations in Ethiopia, notably those effecting women, children and minorities. The report details stringent new accountability requirements directed at the Government of Ethiopia in a new 2014 bill.

Below is an article published by the Ogaden News Agency:

The U.S. Department of State’s 2013 report has revealed the human rights violations in Ethiopia. The reports states that one of the major violations in Ethiopia has been on “Freedom of Speech and Assembly.”The report said the human rights violations included arbitrary killings; allegations of torture, beating, abuse, and mistreatment of detainees by security forces; reports of harsh and, at times, life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; detention without charge and lengthy pre trial detention; a weak, overburdened judiciary subject to political influence; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights, including illegal searches and many others. 

It also found although the civil courts operated with a large degree of independence, the criminal courts remained weak, overburdened, and subject to political influence. Similarly, beatings, stress positions, the hanging of detainees by their wrists from the ceiling, prolonged handcuffing, and the pouring of water over detainees, verbal threats, and solitary confinement have been described. In Somali Region of Ethiopia, there continued to be reports of abuses, including killings, by the Somali Region Special Police.

The Report noted that as of September 2012 there were 70,000-80,000 persons in prison, of whom approximately 2,500 were women and nearly 600 were children incarcerated with their mothers and there also were many unofficial detention centers throughout the country, including in Dedessa, BirSheleko, Tolay, Hormat, Blate, Tatek, Jijiga, Holeta, and Senkele. Most were located at military camps.

For example, on August 8, security forces in Addis Ababa detained more than one thousand Muslims participating in Eid al-Fitr celebrations some of whom have died in prison, it added. 

Recalling that on January 17, authorities arrested Solomon Kebede, columnist and managing editor of Muslim Affairs. They charged him along with 27 other Muslims in April under the antiterrorism proclamation, the Report also detailed the human rights violations against incarcerated journalists and politicians such EskinderNega, ReeyotAlemu, AndualemArage, OlbanaLelisa, BekeleGerba and many others. The human rights abuses on women and children, minorities were also included in the Report. 

Last month The United States House Appropriations Committee included stringent new requirements of accountability from the Government of Ethiopia, in a section of the new 2014 bill. This was in relation to the release of U.S. funds designated for Ethiopian military and police forces to Ethiopia’s implementation of corrective policies that would address the declining state of human and democratic rights in the country, including in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, where access to the area must be given to human rights and humanitarian organizations. The law also prohibits funds appropriated to Ethiopia under the headings, “Development Assistance” and “Economic Support Fund” that are available for the lower Omo Valley and the Gambella region to be used directly or indirectly in the forced evictions of the people. 

The Ethiopian government has not yet responded regarding the new law as of yet.