Thank you, Mr. President, 

CIVICUS welcomes Special Procedures’ comprehensive report on Communications with States that brings to light human rights situations on which the Council has remained largely silent. 

We refer to Communications to Ethiopia in December 2015 on the violent repression of peaceful protests organized by students throughout the Oromia region of Ethiopia. In response to the protests, the Ethiopian authorities have arbitrarily arrested thousands of people and several hundred people have been summarily killed by the security services while participating in the protests. 

On 15 December 2015, Ethiopian State intelligence services issued a statement claiming that Oromo protesters had a “direct connection with forces that have taken mission from foreign terrorist groups” and labelling them as “terrorists”, which permits the authorities to enforce the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation 652/2009 (ATP). Concerns relative to the application of this law have been mentioned in several previous communications from Special Procedures since its implementation in 2009, without any response from the Government. While the bulk of those arrested since February 2016 have not been charged, several are currently being persecuted under this ATP law. Ethiopia continues to criminalize peaceful expression of dissent through severe restrictions on independent media, independent civil society, and misuse of this antiterrorism law. 

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 to visit over the past decade. We urge the government to do so as a matter of priority.

As we quote the Ethiopian Vice President from his speech two days ago on Eritrea: “ ..The Council will be failing the victims of crimes if the perpetrators are not accountable to their actions or allowed to go unpunished..” we call for an independent and impartial investigation into the use of excessive force and other serious abuses by security forces in Oromia. 

Thank you Mr. President

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