Ethiopia pledges probe into killing of protesters

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The Ethiopian government says it will investigate
allegations that security forces killed hundreds of
protesters.
Ethiopian government has said it will launch an
independent investigation about the killing of
protesters by security forces during anti-
government demonstrations but denied that the
police violence in the country is “systematic.”
“I have to reiterate once again this is not
systemic,” government spokesperson Getachew
Reda said.
“There are cases of off-grid police officers who
sometimes take the law into their own hands,” he
said.
“The government takes such allegations very
seriously.”

The Human Rights Watch said Ethiopian security
forces have killed at least 500 people since anti-
government protests began in November and that
thousands of people have been arrested and
detained.
Anti-government protests that started among the
Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, have
spread in recent weeks to the second largest
ethnic group in the country, the Amhara.
Both groups are demanding more political and
economic rights.

“The ruling party won a hundred percent of federal
and regional parliamentary seats in last years
election,” said Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford,
reporting from Adis Ababa.
“The opposition protesters say the party is
dominated by a minority ethnic group that has
been in power for more than 25 years and is
ignoring their constitutional rights.”
Earlier this month, security forces killed nearly 100
people across Ethiopia in three days of violent
protests, according to Amnesty International.
Security forces opened fire on protesters,
according to activists.
The Ethiopian government blamed the opposition in
and outside the country for organising what it calls
“unauthorised protests by anti-peace forces.”
‘We welcome the decision’
“We welcome the decision to launch an
independent investigation,” Ravina Shamdasani, a
spokesperson for the Office of the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told
reporters in Geneva on Friday.
Ethiopia has previously dismissed a plea from the
UN to allow international observers to investigate
the killing of protesters by security forces.
“We urge the Government to ensure that the
investigation has a mandate to cover allegations of
human rights violations since the unrest in Oromia
began in November 2015,” Shamdasani said.
She went on to stress that the probe should be
“indeed independent, transparent, thorough and
effective, with a view to establishing whether the
use of excessive force occurred and with a view to
bringing to justice the perpetrators of any human
rights violations.”
“The government has repeatedly said that security
forces who have committed abuses or bear any
responsibility for the killing of innocent protesters
will be punished,” said Al Jazeera’s Stratford.
“But so far, publicly at least, no one has been
called to account.”

Source: Al Jazeera

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