Monday, January 25, 2021

Gambella Region Human Rights Situation Needs Urgent Attention: EHRC

EHRC says ninety ethnic Tigreans held in Gambella region since November over alleged support to TPLF did not appear in court, and police had not yet started an investigation  


January 25, 2021 

In a press release published on Monday, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said protection of human rights in the Gambella region requires urgent attention.

The commission said that it deployed a monitoring team to the region in late December 2020, and the press release is based on findings of the team. 

It called for the deplorable prison condition in the region to be improved with a sense of urgency. It also called for respect for members of the opposition parties to operate freely in connection with their political mobilization work. 

In terms of prison conditions, EHRC said that it has observed minor citizens in detention.  

According to the report, EHRC monitoring team found two young boys aged 12 and 14 in prison, and they were arrested on alleged charges of being in the OLF-Shane group, and were in prison since mid-December 2020. “At the time of the visit, EHRC urged the authorities for their immediate release and for an investigation and measures to be taken regarding the severe beatings of the two boys,” said EHRC. 

About 90 Tigreans detained in the region suspected of supporting TPLF have not appeared in court nor has an investigation started (federal or regional) although they were in detention since November 5, 2020.  The commission said that it spoke to relevant authorities in the region to see if they could be granted bail rights and if police could launch a prompt investigation into the alleged crime. However, that did not happen, and it is confirmed they remain in detention at the time the press release was made public. 

Political rights are curtailed too, according to EHRC. It cited opposition parties as saying that  ‘Memorandum of Understanding on Electoral Ethics’ are violated. They have difficulties in finding places for office rental, and to move freely across the Gambella region for political mobilization work. EHRC said “…they face difficulties and harassment to get services such as renting offices, moving around freely in various parts of the region and organizing political party events. They have also said some of their members have faced threats and one of them has told EHRC that 35 of its members have been jailed at various times in various towns of the region.”  

Also, the monitoring team reported that there are cases whereby members of opposition parties who happen to be employees of the regional government lost their jobs due to their political activity. 

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