Sep 20, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Rights Commission rings alarm at large number arbitrary detention of prisoners across Oromia; reveals cases of police extortion


– The Ethiopian Commission on Human Rights (EHRC / Commission) expressed serious concern about the treatment of detainees in detention centers across the Oromia region.

In the period of November 20 from From 2020 to 12 January 2021, the Commission deployed surveillance teams in 21 selected police stations where large numbers of detainees were arrested in relation to what the local authorities call “the current situation” (“haala yeroo”) were. are arrested, especially those arrested after the artist Hachalu Hundesa was murdered. During the surveillance of the police stations, which led to repeated complaints, discussions were held with detainees and the responsible officers of the police stations. In addition, the Commission asked the relevant law enforcement and administrative authorities in the region for feedback on the results of the surveillance.

EHRC is alarmed about the conditions of detention at the police stations and believes that serious human rights violations have been committed. The Commission has learned that the detention centers hold a large number of people who have been arrested without a court order in connection with the “current situation”. Credible evidence was received that many of the detainees had been detained without a formal investigation process against them and that they had not been brought to justice within the time required by law. In addition, many police stations have held suspects whose charges have been dropped by prosecutors or who should be released based on a court order. These detainees were still arbitrarily arrested for allegedly “core suspects” and new charges were brought against them.

Officials from various police stations allege that the detainees’ cases are related to the “current situation” from to regulate the security councils (“Mana maree nageenyaa”) at the zonal and woreda level. The practice has placed the fate of a large number of detainees in the hands of political (administrative) organs by denying them access to legally established courts.

Some of the detainees at the police stations said they were during the Police have been beaten, arrests and detainees, as well as surveillance teams, observed detainees with open wounds on various parts of their bodies and with temporary or permanent physical disabilities. In addition, EHRC has received various testimonials of the practice of arresting family members of suspects in some areas, including arresting a father or mother to require them to present their children who are suspected to being members or supporters of OLF Shane or arrest a woman in order to present her. Her husband is suspected of being connected to OLF Shane. Several detainees also reported extortion practices by police officers, demanding payment and threatening detention and charges for association with OLF Shane unless otherwise specified.

All of the police stations visited had female detainees, some of them with Children between 5 months and 10 years. On the other hand, children between the ages of 9 and 18 who are detained on suspicion of involvement in criminal activities are detained with adults at various police stations, in violation of Article 172 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which requires their release on unconditional bail.

In most of the police stations monitored, detainees are held in unsanitary and overcrowded rooms, which pose a serious health risk. Most detainees face dire conditions due to a lack of food in detention centers and lack of access to water, sanitation and medical services
In response to the results of the EHRC, the Attorney General of Oromia stated that he did so
investigated the matter and denied human rights violations of those detained in
the region.

Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele noted that the treatment of inmates in the
Region needs to be addressed urgently and stresses the cases of these
investigated and brought to justice in the event of prolonged arbitrary detention
in an accelerated manner will be police officers responsible for human rights abuses
When held accountable, suspects of children and women are given the highest priority
including by ensuring that all children are arrested on suspicion of involvement
criminal activity is released on unconditional bail in accordance with the law.

The Commissioner added: “Particular attention needs to be paid to ensuring that the trial against those suspected of the crime is dealt with only by the ordinary courts and court orders are duly followed by the regional authorities. “ Shipping