April 26, 2018
(OiPlatform): Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right, has visited Ethiopia and has said he sees ‘hope’ in Ethiopia, but also ‘anxiety’.
The High Commissioner has said he conveyed to the Ethiopian prime minister to lift State of emergency, close more detention centers, and facilitate ‘inclusive political dialogue’. The commissioner also said he had a ‘rich discussion’ with the prime minister.
In his released statement, the Commissioner said: “I was also impressed with the articulate expression of human rights demands by students at Addis Abeba University and others. Civil society representatives, bloggers, religious leaders, political opponents raised numerous important human rights issues with me. They called for further releases of people detained merely for exercising their rights to freedom of assembly, expression, and opinion. While the closure of the Maekelawi detention center is welcome, there is an expectation that this should foreshadow the closure of other such detention facilities across the country. They also called for the State of Emergency to be lifted, reform of law enforcement authorities, the prison system, and judicial reform, pushing for the strengthening of the independence of institutions. They called for an inclusive political dialogue and for all Ethiopians to be able to speak, tweet, blog, and protest without the fear of arrest.”
He also added: “While Government representatives accompanied me and my team during all the meetings, I was struck by the frank and robust expression of grievances by the Aba Gadas. The Aba Gadas too spoke of their hopes of working with the new Government to resolve longstanding human rights issues in the region. They spoke about how they will continue to push for the truth to be told about what has happened over the past few years, including during protests where people were killed. They demanded investigations and accountability for excessive use of force by the authorities. They expressed their desire for justice and human rights for all Ethiopians and for their voices to be heard without fear of reprisal.”
It is not clear if the new prime minister is fully committed to allowing the UN Investigators to enter the country.
Many activists are saying that while the rhetoric of reform by the new prime minister is encouraging, the acts on the ground remain the same. The command post is detaining people without any due process. There are thousands of people still in detention.