News: Rights Commission urges immediate halt to ever-increasing enforced disappearance of people in Ethiopia

Handcuffed person (Image: EHRC)

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has urged the need to immediately halt the ever-increasing enforced disappearance of people in Ethiopia and advised the government to immediately accept and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, to enhance the effective prevention of the crime. 

The EHRC stated in a press release on Monday that the rights commission has been monitoring several cases of enforced disappearances and incommunicado detention in various areas of the country.

The commission noted an alarming scale of the crime in Addis Ababa City Administration, Oromia, and the Amhara regions, where it has been talking to the relevant government officials, visiting different places of detention and speaking to suspects and collecting information from families and other sources.

“EHRC has confirmed many acts of forced disappearance where the victims were arrested from their homes, workplaces, or from the streets by civil and uniformed government security personnel without a court order and then taken to an unknown location,” the press release stated.

According to EHRC, while some have been reported to have recovered after days, weeks, or months of missing, others remain in forced hiding as of the time of the press release.

EHRC said it is monitoring at least seven people from different parts of the Oromia region who have been reported to be victims of forced disappearance, adding that the commission is conducting an investigation into alleged mistreatment or torture during the forced disappearance, and the exact situation will be revealed once the investigation is completed. 

Among other victims the commission listed the missing since October last year of an unnamed individual who is a member of the Central Committee of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) from Nekemte city local security office in East Wollega zone. Prior to his disappearance the person was tortured and chained, the press release stated.

It added that the act of forced disappearance results in severe violation of human rights of the missing person and his family, including the right to liberty, the right to life, the right to be protected from secret detention and torture, the right to justice, and the right to health, work, education, and family.

Daniel Bekele (PhD), Chief Commissioner of EHRC  said, “the government should take all the necessary temporary and permanent measures to stop this terrible act of forced disappearance, all the disappeared people should be released immediately, a full investigation should be carried out on the actions that took place while they were hidden, and accountability should be confirmed.

“We should set up a national independent investigation team to find the victims of the act and ensure justice,” he emphasized, adding “we call on Ethiopia to accept and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance”.

In what seems to constitute an act of forced disappearance, the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) said in April, seven of its leaders who were in police custody in Burayu for nearly three years were missing, and urged the government to immediately release them. AS

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