Interactive Dialogue on access to safe drinking water and sanitation and on arbitrary detention

CIVICUS thanks the Special Rapporteur on access to safe drinking water and sanitation for his very innovative report, for looking through the gender lens on the myriad challenges women face in tackling the material and structural determinants of gender inequalities in access to water, sanitation and hygiene which could serve as an entry point to address gender inequality more broadly. We particularly thank him for making the link to participation, not only as a right in itself, but also imperative for fulfilling other rights. We concur that.the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities that meet women’s and girls’ needs can be largely attributed to the absence of women’s participation in decision-making and planning.

CIVICUS also welcomes the report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and its meticulous work. Specifically, we refer to Opinion 2 of 2015 which concludes that the Ethiopian authorities have arbitrarily detained Mr. Andargachew Tsige for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and assembly and subsequently denied Mr. Tsige of his due process rights under international law. 

We remain concerned about the continued misuse of the widely criticized 2009 Ethiopia Anti-terrorism law to arbitrarily arrest and detain political opposition members, journalists, peaceful protesters and civil society representatives in the country. We remain particularly alarmed by the unwarranted imprisonment of thousands of protestors and other individuals for participating, observing and documenting ongoing demonstrations in the Amhara and Oromia regions in opposition to the ruling party’s dominance in government affairs, the lack of law, and grave human rights violations for which there has been no accountability.

As a Human Rights Council member – and Vice-President – Ethiopia is required to cooperate with the Council and its mechanisms. Yet it has not accepted requests by numerous Special Procedures, including the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, to visit Ethiopia over the past decade and has failed to officially respond to the Working Group’s decisions. We respectfully ask the Working Group to send urgent appeals to the Government of Ethiopia to address the thousands of human rights defenders arbitrarly detained for participating in the protests. We further urge the Council to dispatch an impartial investigation into the use of excessive force and other serious abuses by security forces in Ethiopia as recently requested by the High Commissioner.