Ethiopia pledges probe into killing of protesters
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