Ethiopia pledges probe into killing of pro­test­ers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Feature/worldwide -

ETHIOPIAN gov­ern­ment has said it will launch an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion about the killing of pro­test­ers by se­cu­rity forces dur­ing anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions but de­nied that the po­lice vi­o­lence in the coun­try is “sys­tem­atic.”

“I have to re­it­er­ate once again this is not sys­temic,” gov­ern­ment spokesper­son Ge­tachew Reda said.

“There are cases of off-grid po­lice of­fi­cers who some­times take the law into their own hands,” he said. “The gov­ern­ment takes such al­le­ga­tions very se­ri­ously.” The Hu­man Rights Watch said Ethiopian se­cu­rity forces have killed at least 500 peo­ple since anti-gov­ern­ment protests be­gan in Novem­ber and that thou­sands of peo­ple have been ar­rested and de­tained.

Anti-gov­ern­ment protests that started among the Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest eth­nic group, have spread in re­cent weeks to the se­cond largest eth­nic group in the coun­try, the Amhara.

Both groups are de­mand­ing more po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic rights. “The rul­ing party won a hun­dred per­cent of fed­eral and re­gional par­lia­men­tary seats in last years elec­tion,” said Al Jazeera’s Charles Strat­ford, re­port­ing from Adis Ababa.

“The op­po­si­tion pro­test­ers say the party is dom­i­nated by a mi­nor­ity eth­nic group that has been in power for more than 25 years and is ig­nor­ing their con­sti­tu­tional rights.”

Ear­lier this month, se­cu­rity forces killed nearly 100 peo­ple across Ethiopia in three days of vi­o­lent protests, ac­cord­ing to Amnesty In­ter­na­tional. Se­cu­rity forces opened fire on pro­test­ers, ac­cord­ing to ac­tivists.

The Ethiopian gov­ern­ment blamed the op­po­si­tion in and out­side the coun­try for or­gan­is­ing what it calls “unau­tho­rised protests by anti-peace forces.”

“We wel­come the de­ci­sion to launch an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Rav­ina Sham­dasani, a spokesper­son for the Of­fice of the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights (OHCHR), told re­porters in Geneva on Fri­day.

Ethiopia has pre­vi­ously dis­missed a plea from the UN to al­low in­ter­na­tional ob­servers to in­ves­ti­gate the killing of pro­test­ers by se­cu­rity forces.

“We urge the Gov­ern­ment to en­sure that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has a man­date to cover al­le­ga­tions of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions since the un­rest in Oro­mia be­gan in Novem­ber 2015,” Sham­dasani said.

She went on to stress that the probe should be “in­deed in­de­pen­dent, trans­par­ent, thor­ough and ef­fec­tive, with a view to es­tab­lish­ing whether the use of ex­ces­sive force oc­curred and with a view to bring­ing to jus­tice the per­pe­tra­tors of any hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions.”

“The gov­ern­ment has re­peat­edly said that se­cu­rity forces who have com­mit­ted abuses or bear any re­spon­si­bil­ity for the killing of in­no­cent pro­test­ers will be pun­ished,” said Strat­ford.

“But so far, pub­licly at least, no one has been called to ac­count.” — Al Jazeera

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.