19 August 2016 – Voicing concern over serious human rights violations in the Oromia and Amhara regions of Ethiopia earlier this month, the United Nations human rights chief today urged the Government to ensure access for independent observers to affected areas and to work towards opening up political and democratic reforms.
Against the backdrop of extremely alarming reports on human rights abuses during public protests over the weekend of 6-8 August, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, appealed to the Ethiopian authorities for allowing human rights experts to access to the conflict zones and evaluate the situation.
“We welcome the decision to launch an independent investigation, and 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,” Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva.
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 UN rights office is ready to assist in ensuring that the investigation is abide by international human rights standards. However, she said, it is critical to have access to areas where have been reported of ongoing arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment of people in the regions.
“We call on the Government to ensure that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression are protected and that those detained for exercising these rights are promptly released,” said Ms. Shamdasani.
She further urged the Government to work towards opening up the political and democratic space, including comprehensive security sector, legislative, and institutional reforms.