Recently various journalists, members and leaders of political parties have been subject to repetitive arrest and kidnappings. In a press release issued on May 07, 2022, and May 23, 2022, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) urged the government to take corrective Measures. However, those unlawful measures from the government still continued. According to the information gathered, EHRCO learned that Temesgen Desalegn, Managing director of Feteh Magazine was arrested in early hours of May 26, 2022, and also the arrest of journalist Yayesew Shimeles on the same day by security forces and arrested in a 3rd police station. These are few indicators for continued arbitrary arrests of journalists by government security forces. Furthermore, seven Nisir and Ashara YouTube journalists were arrested by government security forces from their workplace last week and even though their whereabouts had been unknown for some period of time, while preparing this press statement, EHRCO learned that they are imprisoned at South Gonder Gaint and that they have not brought before the court of law.
Amhara National Regional State
It is to be recalled that the Amhara National Regional State stated that the government has arrested more than 4,500 people since May 2022 in the name of law enforcement campaign. Following this, According to the information gathered, EHRCO learned that the arrests in some parts of the region are committed without due process and also subject to kidnappings. EHRCO also learned that due to the misunderstandings and actions taken in this process, killings (including a 13 years old child), injuries, damage of property, arrests and kidnappings committed on large number of peoples in some areas of the region such as North wollo zone, woldiya city, Eastern Gojjam zone Mota city and western Gojjam zone North mecha wored; & Merawi ketema. Moreover, from the political parties’ complaint EHRCO learned that several rival political party members and leaders have been arrested, and detained without due process of law. Leaders and members of Amhara National Movement Party, Enat party and other political parties’ members and leaders present in the various parts of the region are among them. According to the information gathered by EHRCO, the arrest of members and leaders of the above-mentioned parties were carried out by the government forces and the whereabouts of most of the detainees are unknown and also they have not been provided before the court of law.
Related Legal Obligations
● Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 6 (1) and 9 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) guarantee that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. In securing this right, Article 2 (1) and 2 (2) state that governments have a duty to respect, enforce, and fulfill the rights guaranteed by the ICCPR. Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) stipulates that every person shall be entitled for the respect of his life and the integrity of his person and shall not be arbitrarily deprived of these rights. Article 14 of the FDRE Constitution states that, “every human being has the inalienable right to life, liberty and security of person”. Similarly, Article 15 of the FDRE Constitution clearly states that everyone has the right to life and shall not be deprived of his life except as provided by law.
● Both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) clearly stipulate under Article 9 that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his liberty; no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, or detention. Similarly, Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples rights stipulates that everyone has the right to liberty and security of person and that no one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds provided by law, and no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest.
● As per the Article 17 of the FDRE Constitution definition of the right to liberty, no one shall be detained without due process of law or arrested without charge or conviction. When Article 28 of the FDRE constitution defines crime against humanity, it recognizes forced disappearances as crime against humanity.
● Although Ethiopia does not ratify the Convention on International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, Article 5 of the Convention states that widespread or systematic disappearances are crimes against humanity as defined in international law. Moreover, Article 1 (1) stipulates that no one shall be subjected to forced disappearance and requires the government to hold the perpetrators criminally accountable.
● Article 48 of the Media Proclamation No. 1238/2021 stipulates that Medias and journalists have the right to gather, receive and disseminate news/information; express opinions and engage in critical reporting on issues, and to bring charges or complaints to the Federal High Court when there is an action that interferes with, contravenes, or influences its constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press, or threatens its security.
Since all these the arbitrary arrests and kidnappings committed on various members of the public restricts freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of press and the political environment in general, EHRCO by condemning those actions:
● We demand the federal and concerned regional governments to immediately stop the arrests and detentions of journalists, community activists, influential individuals, members of political parties and leaders, and to hold those involved government bodies accountable.
● We request the government to respect the imprisoned journalists, community activists, influential individuals, members of political parties and leaders rights to access to justice.
● We request the government to disclose the whereabouts of members and leaders of the Amhara National Movement, the Enat party and other parties whose whereabouts is unknown after they have been captured by the government security forces, and to respect their right to access to justice
● We demand the government to respect the rights of peoples detained in Amhara regional state since May 2022 under law enforcement campaign and bring them before the court of law as per the time provided by law and respect their right to access to justice.
● We demand the government to immediately stop the killings, injuries, destruction of property and other human rights violations committed by the government security forces and individuals in various areas of the Amhara National Regional State, and to properly discharge its law enforcement duty, and hold the perpetrators accountable
● We demand the federal and regional governments; elders, religious leaders; community activists, CSOs and all other concerned stakeholders to contribute their share to prevent similar incidents occurrence in the future, and toward resolving the ongoing civil disorder and disturbances. EHRCO will provide further information on the above issues by conducting further investigations.