Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia September 2020 Press release

 Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia is releasing this press statement on September, 2020 to express concerns over major events concerning human rights treatments in Ethiopia. 

Attacks at Metekel Zone 

On October, 2020 at Metekel zone, Guba and Bulen woredas and on September, 2020 at Bengez Kebele, Dangur Woreda of the Benishangul-Gumuz region several civilians are killed, injured and their properties in repeated ethnic-based attacks by organized armed groups. Some are also forced to flee from their homes. According to eye witnesses and regional officials, the security forces in the area failed to protect residents from the attacks. The fact that the September attacks happened right after the federal government higher officials went to the area and announced deployment of security force shows the seriousness of the problem.

Conflicts in Konso Zone

Similarly, amongst the major human rights violations to happen in October are clashes in the boarder Kebeles of Konso zone  and Ale Woreda  of  the Southern region resulted in loss of life and properties as more than 5,000 residents fled from their home in fear of attacks. 

Citizens at risk due to Flooding 

On the other hand, more than 496,989 citizens have been affected by flooding in Afar, Amhara, Gambella, Oromia, Southern and Afar regions. Several non-governmental organizations traveled to the location and witnessed that 134,889 were displaced, several houses are destroyed and number of lives are put in danger and citizens in risk of contracting covid-19 virus due to being housed in makeshift camps and expressed their concerns to the government. 

Violations of freedom of religion

It is known that freedom of religion is recognized as a constitutional right. However, in different parts of the country, particularly in some Zones and Woredas of Oromia region and in Hosaena town of southern region, many have expressed that they have been hindered from celebrating the Meskel holiday according to their religious standards.  In particular, we learnt that the case of Covid- 19 has been used as a reason for the restrictions. 

Failure to comply with court decisions and violating citizens’ rights 

Other human right violations to happen on September were cases of failing to complying with court decisions. The right to for bail is a significant right to avoid unnecessary arrests. In particular, in Oromia region Eastern Showa zone higher court has ordered for the release of Ato Lidetu Ayalew on bail, but refusal to release the suspect was observed. Failure to comply with the decision of the court is not only a threat to human rights but also a threat to the ongoing justice system in the country. 

Endangering the freedom of movement 

It is well known that the right to move from to place as well as the right to live where you want and own property is a constitutional right recognized by the FDRE. However, it has been observed that in various times including the month of September roads have been blocked and traveling citizens have been at risk.

In particular, those traveling from Bahir Dar to Addis Ababa have endured delays in Oromia Region Northern Showa Zone and some have reported to several Medias that they were forced to return to the town of Dejen after looking at their ID. This limits citizens’ freedom of movement.

Recommendations

Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia calls out to the government to take the following counteractive measures:

  • For the federal government and the Benishangul Gumuz regional state to ensure the safety of citizens against similar ethnic based attacks, resettle displaced residents, make sure victims get the proper compensation, take the necessary legal action against the armed groups responsible for the repeated attacks and make sure the area is free from them(Armed groups) as well as take necessary legal actions against any parties involved directly or indirectly in the attacks.
  • For the government to identifying the root causes of the conflicts in various parts of the country and put in place a system of counteractive actions to be taken before conflicts occur and avoid further strains on the lives of civilians. 
  • For the government to work with various partners to reduce the risk of floods in different parts of the country. In particular to take the necessary precautions to protect citizens from being exposed to covid-19 and other infectious diseases. 
  • The government must prevent interference against minority religious groups, followers and religious practiced in various areas of the country. The government should establish a system to hold accountable those who are responsible for restricting and interfering with citizens’ religious freedoms. In particular, legal action must be taken against those who limit citizens from practicing their freedom of religion, citing various unconvincing reasons. 
  • Obeying court decision is basic part of human rights. Therefore, suspects who remain in custody despite the court’s decision to grant bail must be released without further conditions. Therefore, the government should launch a system to stop the actions of government officials (bodies) who obstruct the executions of court decisions and held them accountable. 
  • We urge the government to hold accountable those who restrict individuals’ right to move from place to place, to make sure the right to movement is respected and further mistreatment of citizens is avoided. 

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