The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has issued a statement expressing grave concerns about the increasing incidents of incommunicado incarceration and forced disappearances in the country. The commission emphasized the urgent need for a comprehensive legal and human rights framework to address these violations and ensure justice for all victims.
To combat the crime of forced disappearance effectively, the EHRC urged Ethiopia to promptly accept and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Although the EHRC's statement did not provide specific figures, alarming circumstances have been reported in Addis Ababa City and the Oromia and Amhara Regions. Accordingly, the commission has contacted relevant government officials, visited various detention facilities, and gathered information from relatives and other sources to investigate these cases thoroughly.
Daniel Bekele (PhD), Chief Commissioner of EHRC, underscored the importance of immediate action, stating,
The government must take both short-term and long-term measures to end these horrifying forced disappearances. All missing individuals must be released promptly, and a comprehensive investigation should be conducted into the circumstances leading to their disappearance. In addition, a national independent investigation team should also be established to ensure accountability. Our priority is to locate the victims and ensure justice is served."
The EHRC has documented cases where the government, directly or indirectly, has been involved by granting permission, support, consent, or withholding information regarding the whereabouts and circumstances of the forcibly disappeared individuals. The victims include former and current federal and regional army members, social media activists, members of opposition political parties, and unidentified individuals who were abducted from their homes or workplaces.
The recent disappearance of Ermias Mekuria, a public health specialist and Social media influencer, on May 12, 2023, brought attention to the growing trend of kidnappings in Ethiopia. Fortunately, his whereabouts were confirmed after 15 days.
Numerous individuals who forcibly disappeared in Addis Ababa in late April have resurfaced at the Federal Police Station. According to the EHRC, they were believed to be held in a former Special Forces camp in the Gelan neighborhood of Sheger City in the Oromia region. The commission's investigation into allegations of abuse or torture during these disappearances is ongoing, and further details will be made available in due course.
Forced disappearances have severe human rights implications for the victims and their families. Accordingly, the EHRC is deeply concerned that this act infringes upon various fundamental rights, including the right to life, the right to be free from torture and secret incarceration, the right to justice, and the right to family, work, health, and education.
The Chief Commissioner called upon the Ethiopian government to accept and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance as a crucial step toward effectively preventing this crime and upholding human rights. Our independent and professional media outlet supports the EHRC's call for an independent investigation into these alarming incidents and for justice to be served for all victims.