The release without charge of 22 government critics who were arrested and detained for months on allegations of terrorism illustrates the Ethiopian authorities’ continued abuse of the country’s anti-terror laws, Amnesty International said today.
The 22, released late on Tuesday, were among more than 200 people arrested in June after the killing of army chief Seare Mekonnen and Amhara Regional State President Ambachew Mekonnen – termed an attempted coup by the Ethiopian government. Most of those arrested have since been quietly released without being formally charged in court.
“The release of these 22 people without formal charges ever being filed against them is one consequence of the authorities’ continued misuse of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to arbitrarily arrest and detain government critics. For them to have been detained for four months without an iota of evidence being adduced is blatantly unjust,” said Fisseha Tekle, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher.
“The Anti-Terrorism Proclamation continues to be the government’s tool of choice for arbitrarily arresting people. Dozens of other people are still languishing in detention under the ambiguous and overly broad anti-terrorism law. They must be immediately released or charged with clearly defined and recognizable offences.”
Amnesty International is calling on the Ethiopian authorities to expedite the revision of the anti-terrorism law in line with international human rights standards. The revised law should among other things provide suspects with the right to bail pending trial, as well as ensure any criminal offence is clearly defined in accordance with international human rights law.