Ethiopia: international scrutiny must continue to ensure peace and stability in the country

Statement at the 52nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Interactive Dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia

Delivered by Sibahle Zuma

Thank you, Mr President,

CIVICUS and its partners in Ethiopia welcome the renewal of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia’s mandate at the 51st Human Rights Council Session. We also welcome the signing of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan authorities on the 2nd of November 2022. This is a critical moment to end all atrocities and the suffering of millions of civilians.

For the past two years, Ethiopia’s human rights situation has been marred by extrajudicial killings, rape and sexual violence, unlawful shelling, airstrikes and pillage. Freedom of expression has particularly been restricted in the past two years. Journalists and media actors have faced detentions, arrests, and censorship from both Ethiopian and Tigrayan authorities. On the 7th of September 2022, the founder and editor of the Voice of Amhara was arrested by authorities at his home. He was accused of having ties with the TLPF and attempting to terrorise the public by disseminating information that supports the rebel group. No formal charges were laid against him.

In the same month, Abay Zewdu, the chief editor of a privately owned satellite and YouTube-based broadcaster, Amara Media Centre, was arrested by Ethiopian authorities. He was accused of disseminating false information and organising students from the Amhara ethnic group to commit violence. He remained in detention even after he had posted bail.

We call on the Ethiopian government to respect the right to freedom of expression and to cease all forms of intimidation and harassment of journalists and other media actors. We urge the UN Human Rights Council and the Commission of Experts to continue scrutinising the situation in Ethiopia to ensure peace and stability in the country.

We thank you.

 Civic space in Ethiopia is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor