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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press statement on the situation of unrest in Ethiopia

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) is deeply concerned by the current situation of human rights violations and abuses in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, that ensued after the killing of a leading Oromo singer in Addis Ababa. The Commission in particular expresses its alarm at the death of 239 people, including, according to police reports, 215 civilians, as well as the destruction of property in Ethiopia, resulting from reported inter-ethnic violence in parts of Oromia, violent protests in Addis Ababa and the Oromia Region and responses from security forces.

The Commission deplores the killings and all acts of violence and expresses its condolences to all those who have been injured in the clashes and to the families of all who have been killed.

The Commission also expresses its deep concern about the shutting down of the internet by the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (the Government) since 29 June 2020, along with the shutting down of certain media houses. 

The Commission reaffirms the right of all persons to respect for their life, integrity of their person (Article 4) and the prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 5) under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter). The Commission further affirms the non-derogability of these rights and thus that no one may be arbitrarily deprived of these rights, including in situations of insecurity. The above may also constitute a violation of Articles 6, 7 and 9 of the African Charter viz the right to liberty and security of person, the right to be heard and the right to information and expression respectively. Furthermore Principle 38(1) of the Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa provides that “States shall not engage in or condone any disruption of access to the internet and other digital technologies for segments of the public or an entire population”.

In this regard, the Commission:

  1. Urges cessation of all acts of violence, including acts of violence perpetrated against individuals on account of their perceived or real ethnic affiliations;
  2. Urges the Government to comply with due process of the law in effecting arrests of suspects as well as respecting the rights of arrested and detained persons;
  3. Calls for the establishment of an independent investigation into these events, which have resulted in the loss of many lives and the destruction of property;
  4. Calls on the Government to take all measures to guarantee respect and to protect the right to freedom of expression and access to information through ensuring access to internet;
  5. Calls on opposition groups to express their views in compliance with human rights law and without resorting to hate speech or incitement to violence; and
  6. Reiterates the call of the Commission in its Resolution 429 on the Human Rights Situation in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia - ACHPR/Res.429(LXV)2019, issued during its 65th Ordinary Session held from 21 October to 10 November 2019, regarding the need to engage in dialogue in order to resolve the root causes of the instability and bridge the political divisions through peaceful and inclusive means.

Banjul, 09 July 2020

Honourable Commissioner Mudford Zachariah Mwandenga

Country Rapporteur for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia