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Ethiopia: Eskinder Nega among those re-arrested in alarming abuse of emergency powers

    March 26, 2018

    Reacting to news that journalist and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Eskinder Nega was re-arrested yesterday, along with 10 other people in Addis Ababa, Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes said:

    “These arrests, coming only a month after Eskinder Nega and his colleagues were released from prison, are a clear abuse of power by the Ethiopian authorities and serve as yet more evidence that the state of emergency is being cynically exploited for political ends.

    “The current state of unrest cannot be used as a front to curtail human rights and silence divergent opinions in Ethiopia. All of those arrested have done no more than exercise their right to freedom of expression and must be immediately and unconditionally released.

    “There must be an urgent review of the sweeping powers granted to the Command Post, a body created to manage the state of emergency. At present, they are abusing these powers to target and harass those with dissenting voices.” 

     

    Background

    On Sunday, 25 March 2018, Ethiopian police and security forces, arrested journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Dessalege; bloggers Mahlet Fantahun, Befiqadu Hailu, Zelalem Workagegnhu, and Fekadu Mehatemework; and activists Andualem Arage, Addisu Getaneh, Yidnekachewu Addis, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla, while they gathered at the residence of journalist Temesgen Dessalege in Addis Ababa, Lebu Area. The 11 were first taken to a police station at Addis’ Jomo District but were transferred to another station in Gotera-Pepsi area during the night.

    Amnesty International verified that 29 people including journalists and bloggers, university lecturers and lawyers, activists and opposition politicians were arrested over the weekend while attending private functions in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, in the Amhara region.