Ethiopia: Response to Amnesty International’s report on Ethiopia by Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Amnesty Report on Ethiopia titled ‘Beyond law enforcement: human rights violation by Ethiopian security forces in Amhara and Oromia Regional States is an extensive document alleging human right violation by the Ethiopian security forces in two districts in the Oromia National Region State (ONRS) and two districts in the Amhara National Regional State (ANRS) in 2019.
We are grateful to see Amnesty’s recognition of the efforts by the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) since 2018 and we reaffirm our resolve to further strengthen our democratic institutions.
While the reform process has at times experienced bumps, the Government of Ethiopia has proven that it remains committed to build a consolidated democracy. For the GOE the loss of a single life is one too many. And if there are, as the report alleges, incidents where violations of rights took place, the GOE will conduct an independent investigation, which the report also recommends, at the appropriate time.
We note that the report in general is a one-sided snapshot security analysis that fails to appropriately capture the broader political trajectory and security developments in Ethiopia since the commencement of the reform. For instance, it deliberately ignored the extensive and successful peace-making efforts in the districts indicated. The peace-making efforts were overwhelmingly supported by the communities and were conducted by the consortium of regional and federal actors in collaboration with local religious and traditional leaders as well as civil society.
The GOE’s data, which is also complimented by the several independent agencies, indicates a strong support to the Ethiopian National Defense Force, the Federal Police and other security agencies to ensure law and order in the locations indicated by the report. In addition, the report sidelined the GOE’s preferred mode of engagement to address any security impediments, i.e. through peaceful means that respects the culture of the communities in dispute.
The security forces in collaboration with development and humanitarian agencies repatriated a large number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in a very short period of time. The repatriation has been conducted in a manner that respected the dignity of our citizens and in accordance with global human right concerns that highlighted safe and voluntary return.
Apparently, communal issues across different parts of the country, including in the areas where the report is focused, have been largely resolved. And as the report also indicates, the political space is wide and open. The security problems identified are more of banditry than communal. In today’s Ethiopia, every region and every citizen maintain the right to actively engage in the political affairs of the country at regional and federal levels.
Be that as it may, there are major improvements in the area of security in the two regions at large. Besides being geographically expansive, the two regions were the areas where the reform processes were ignited. And comparatively speaking, Ethiopia’s reform and transition to democracy is much more composed, less bloody and purposefully participatory.
Currently, Ethiopia is fighting the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and the GOE has focused on forging a national unity of purpose across different sectors and declared a State of Emergency to save lives. We believe, in its rush to collect temporary propaganda gains, it was reckless and unprincipled for the report to deliberately leave out the grave dangers posed by the spread and impact of COVID-19 during the current government response.