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Human Rights Brief: Oromo: HRLHA Plea for Release of Detained Peaceful Protestors March 5, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Because I am Oromo, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Groups at risk of arbitrary arrest in Oromia: Amnesty International Report, Human Rights Watch on Human Rights Violations Against Oromo People by TPLF Ethiopia, Oromia wide Oromo Universtiy students Protested Addis Ababa Expansion Master Plan, Oromians Protests, Oromiyaa.
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Oromo: HRLHA Plea for Release of Detained Peaceful Protestors

From March to April 2014, members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, engaged in peaceful protests in opposition to the Ethiopian government’s implementation of the “Integrated Regional Development Plan” (Master Plan). The Oromo believe that the Master Plan violates Articles 39 and 47 in the Ethiopian Constitution, by altering administrative boundaries around the city of Addis Ababa, the Oromia State’s and the federal government’s capital. The Oromo fear they will be excluded from the development plans and that this will lead to the expropriation of their farmlands.

In response to these protests, the Ethiopian government has detained or imprisoned thousands of Oromo nationals. In a January 2005 appeal, theHuman Rights League of the Horn

of Africa (HRLHA) claimed that the Ethiopian government is breaching the State’s Constitution and several international treaties by depriving the Oromo prisoners of their liberty. Amnesty International reports that some protestors have also been victims of “enforced disappearance, repeated torture, and unlawful state killings as part of the government’s incessant attempts to crush dissent.”

Under the Ethiopian Constitution, citizens possess the rights to liberty and due process, including the right not to be illegally detained. Article 17 forbids deprivation of liberty, arrest, or detention, except in accordance with the law. Further, Article 19 provides that a person has the right to be arraigned within forty-eight hours of his or her arrest. However, according to the HRLHA, a group of at least twenty-six Oromo prisoners were illegally detained for over ninety-nine days following the protests. The HRHLA claims that these detentions were illegal because the prisoners were arrested without warrants, and because they did not appear before a judge within forty-eight hours of their arrest. The Ethiopian authorities’ actions also disregard the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which requires that no one be subject to arbitrary arrest, and that those arrested be promptly brought before a judge. Ethiopia signed and ratified the ICCPR in 1993, and is thus bound to uphold the treaty.

Additionally, the Ethiopian Constitution deems torture and unusual punishment illegal and inhumane. According to Article 18, every citizen has the right not to be exposed to cruel, inhuman, or degrading behavior. Amnesty International reports that certain non-violent Oromo protestors suffered exactly this treatment, including a teacher who was stabbed in the eye with a bayonet for refusing to teach government propaganda to his students, and a young girl who had hot coals poured onto her stomach because her torturers believed her father was a political dissident. Amnesty International further recounts other instances of prisoners being tortured through electric shock, burnings, and rape. If these reports are an accurate account of the government’s actions, the Ethiopian authorities are not only acting contrary to their constitution, but also contrary to the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT). According to Article 2 of the CAT, a State Member must actively prevent torture in its territory, without exception. In addition, an order from a high public authority cannot be used as justification if torture is indeed used. Ethiopia ratified the CAT in 1994, and is thus obligated to uphold and protect its principles.

The HRLHA pleads that the Ethiopian government release imprisoned Oromo protesters. This would ensure that the intrinsic human rights of the Oromo people, guaranteed by the Ethiopian Constitution and several international treaties ratified by Ethiopia would finally be upheld. Furthermore, it would restore peace to and diminish the fear among other Oromo people who have abandoned their normal routines in the wake of government pressure, and have fled Ethiopia or have gone into hiding.

*The Human Rights Brief is a student-run publication at American University Washington College of Law (WCL). Founded in 1994 as a publication of the school’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, the publication has approximately 4,000 subscribers in over 130 countries.

 http://hrbrief.org/2015/02/oromo-hrlha-plea-for-release-of-detained-peaceful-protestors/
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