EHRC reports human rights violations in Amhara; calls for immediate ceasefire and improved detention conditions

Photo: Addis Standard

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued a statement on 14 August, 2023, revealing that it has received multiple complaints related to human rights violations in connection with the ongoing conflict between the federal government and a non-state armed group known as Fano.

The EHRC reported numerous arrests of individuals of Amhara ethnicity as well as the detention of irregular migrants from Eritrea, some of whom may be seeking asylum in Ethiopia. However, the EHRC stated that it has been denied access to monitor the conditions of detainees since the State of Emergency was declared.

On 04 August, 2023, the Council of Ministers unanimously decided to declare a state of emergency in the restive Amhara regional state. The region has witnessed a months-long intensified engagement between government forces and the non-state Fano militia, which has prompted the Council of Ministers to view the situation as a threat to national security and public safety.

According to the EHRC’s statement, there have been credible reports of strikes and shelling in various areas, including Debre Birhan, Finote Selam, and Burie, resulting in civilian casualties and damage to residential areas and public spaces. In Bahir Dar, civilians have been killed on the streets or outside their homes, and some individuals have been specifically targeted for searches, beatings, and killings. Gondar has also witnessed civilian casualties and property damage, with reports of extrajudicial killings by security forces in Shewa Robit. However, the Commission said further investigation and verification of these reports are necessary.

The conflict and road blockades have also impeded the delivery of humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Amhara region, according to the EHRC. As a result, refugees and asylum-seekers in the northern Gondar zone, particularly in Dabat Woreda, are now in an extremely vulnerable situation with heightened protection concerns.

Considering these urgent concerns, the EHRC has called upon all parties involved in the conflict to immediately cease all violations and abuses of international human rights law. It further urged the conflicting parties to agree, without any preconditions, to an immediate cessation of hostilities. The federal government is also called upon to put an end to widespread detentions, grant regular and unconditional access to the EHRC and other oversight bodies to all detention facilities for effective monitoring, release all arbitrarily arrested or detained individuals, and review the legality of their detention through a competent judicial authority. AS

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