UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokeswoman, Liz Throssell, condemned on Tuesday the continued extra-judicial detentions of people of Tigrayan origin in Ethiopia and called on the country's authorities to respect human rights. "We are concerned that arrests have been continuing over the last couple of weeks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, as well as in Gondar, Bahir Dar and other locations, as police invoke the excessively wide provisions of the state of emergency declared on 2 November to arrest, search and detain people," Throssell said at a press briefing.
Currently, over 1,000 people, mostly of Tigrayan origin, are believed to have been detained by Ethiopian authorities on suspicion of being affiliated with the rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the spokeswoman noted. However, the actual number could be much higher, she added. Detainees are often held in overcrowded facilities in poor conditions without being officially charged or standing trial, according to Throssell.
Even under the state of emergency, the government must respect inalienable human rights, such as freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to life and the right to equality and non-discrimination, she stressed. Given the circumstances, Throssell urged Addis Ababa to ensure the detainees' safety and to afford them the full protection of their human rights, including fair trials and procedural guarantees.
Ethiopia has been embroiled in a domestic conflict since last November when the central government accused the TPLF of attacking a military base and launched a counter-operation in the northern parts of the country. Neighboring Eritrea supported the Ethiopian authorities, although in the spring of 2021, it said it was withdrawing its troops from the Tigray region. Earlier this month, the country declared a six-month state of emergency nationwide as TPLF rebels threatened to advance on Addis Ababa.