Ethiopia’s prominent human rights organization, the Human Rights Council (HRCO) has urged the government to turn the rhetoric into tangible action in its commitment to upholding human rights, supporting democratic values. While welcoming the ruling coalition’s announcement to release political prisoners and close the infamous Maekelawi detention center in the capital, HRCO said there are many other similar “torture facilities” in the country and the government should shut down them all.
The 4-page report released Saturday by HRCO stated that since anti-government protests erupted three years ago in the Amhara and Oromia regions , government security forces, particularly the federal police and defences forces have been using excessive and unnecessary lethal forces on peaceful and unarmed civilians. HRCO said the federal government authorities have not made any meaningful investigations into alleged security force violations. As matter of fact, the reports reads, certain police and security officials hampered the discussion and adoption of the legislation on the use of force and accountability in the parliament, which was prepared some years ago by the Ethiopian Federal Attorney General, making it impossible to safeguard the lives of citizens and protect their rights, according to HRCO. Meanwhile, HRCO applauded certain regional government’s security forces’ effort in exercising restraint during protests, and making a move to investigate the response of security forces who made alleged human rights violations and held certain federal and defences force members responsible.
HRCO said it has been expressing serious concern about the restriction of the political space for the opposition, the increasing human right violations, and the danger this could pose for the very existence of country over the past twenty-five-year. “We call on the government to make concrete commitments to bring about deep reforms of laws, policies and actions towards ending longstanding political repression and human rights abuse in the country. And civil society institutions and the media should be allowed to function freely to play an instrumental role in the democratization process,” it concluded.
The Ethiopian government did not respond to requests for comment regarding the report.