The state of emergency imposed by the Ethiopian government has measures that are in clear breach of international law, according to a legal analysis of the October 9 directive carried out by Human Rights Watch (HRW).
HRW in a statement published on Monday (October 31) described the curfew rules as containing ‘overly broad and vague provisions that risk triggering a human rights crisis.’‘
“The implementing directive prescribes draconian restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and assembly that go far beyond what is permissible under international law and signal an increased militarized response to the situation,” the statement noted.
According to Felix Horne, senior researcher in Eritrea and Ethiopia, the sweeping powers handed the army under the law further limited the space for peaceful dissent. He added that HRW were concerned about the seeming ‘legalization’ of security crackdown.
“Many of the abuses committed by security forces since November 2015 have now been codified under the state of emergency.
“Trying to use the legal cover of a state of emergency as a pretext for the widespread suspension of rights not only violates the government’s international legal obligations, but will exacerbate tensions and long-term grievances, and risks plunging Ethiopia into a greater crisis,” Horne said.
Horne was the subject of a recent publication by the Ethiopian government which accused HRW of peddling wrong reportage about the political situation in the country.
According to Tedros Adhanom, the foreign affairs chief, HRW and opposition groups in the diaspora were responsible for the worsening protests in the country which culminated in the imposition of a state of emergency.
“It is very clear this happened because of the statements of Human Rights Watch and of the Diaspora opposition encouraging and feeding rumors,” he said.
The government announced last week that they had arrested 1000s and recovered hundreds of arms used in the unrest in the Oromia and Amhara regions.
Opposition groups, human rights outfits and western diplomats in the country have decried the the government’s decision to impose the state of emergency. The move has been described as a measure to continue with increased repression of opponents.
The government however blames the violence on “anti-peace forces” and “foreign enemies,” specifically Egypt and Eritrea, even though Egyptian president Al Sisi denied any involvement in the protests.
Ethiopia has since November last year suffered a series of protests in two main regions – Amhara and Oromia. The attendant security clampdown has led to the arrests of over 2000 people and death of hundreds of protesters.