Ethiopia: Rights watchdog calls for release of detainees in Addis Ababa

ESAT News (September 25, 2018)

A rights watchdog has called for the release of detainees that were arrested en mass last week in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

Amnesty International was responding to Addis Ababa’s police commissioner Major General Degefe Bede was said yesterday that thousands were detained in a campaign of arrests by his policemen while 1,200 were sent to a military camp for “rehabilitation education.”

“While the Ethiopian authorities have in recent months made a commendable attempt to empty the country’s prisons of arbitrary detainees, they must not fill them up again by arbitrarily arresting and detaining more people without charge,” said Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Joan Nyanyuki.

“The majority of people were arrested for perceived offences which are not recognised criminal offences under international law, such as smoking shisha or consuming khat. They must be either charged with a recognizable criminal offence or released. Those arrested for taking part in protests on the recent ethnic clashes must all be released immediately and unconditionally,” the statement by the watchdog says.

The mass arrests were conducted after ethnic motivated attacks targeted minorities living in the outskirts of Addis Ababa. But the presence of supporters and members of opposition parties among the detainees and the alleged criminals have led some to believe a return to old tactics by the government.

Twenty eight people have been killed last week in deadly violence in several districts in Addis Ababa, according to the capital’s police commissioner. The figures are in addition to the 23 people police said were killed last week in Burayu, in the outskirts of the capital.

[read here for more: ]