Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked the Ethiopian government to investigate and bring to light, the role played by political and security leaders in human rights violations in the Somali region.
In a statement issued on Monday, HRW says Abiy’s seek should seek to correct injustices of the past decade, and specifically seek to hold individuals accountable.
‘‘This should include specific investigations into the responsibility of senior Somali region officials, including the former regional president, Abdi Mohamoud Omar, and the current head of the region’s paramilitary Liyu police force, Abdirahman Abdillahi Burale,’‘ read part of the statement.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reform agenda should include that those responsible for serious human rights violations, however powerful, no longer avoid justice.
On August 6, 2018, after the Somali region’s notorious Liyu police and a youth group loyal to Omar known as Abdi Illey attacked residents and burned property, in Jigjiga, Abdi Illey resigned.
“To break with the past, Ethiopia’s government needs to ensure justice for more than a decade of horrific abuses in the Somali region,” said Maria Burnett, East and Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reform agenda should include that those responsible for serious human rights violations, however powerful, no longer avoid justice.”ALSO READ: Ethiopia PM talks tough on lawlessness, says govt will be firm
Somali region’s human rights record
The Somali region, a strategically important border area between Somalia and Ethiopia, has been the site of over a decade of widespread abuses against civilians, both by the Ethiopian army and by the Liyu police force.
Liyu Police unit was established by the Somali regional government as a counter-terrorism force in 2007, an attack by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebel group on a Chinese oil exploration that killed 74 Ethiopians and nine Chinese workers.
But as early as 2008, human rights groups accused the unit of committing executions, torture, rape, and forced displacement in the Somali Region.
Human Rights Watch has repeatedly pressed for an independent investigation into the crimes committed in this period.