The Somali regional state in Ethiopia has officially announced the closure of its main prison facility, located in the capital, Jijiga.
The Jijiga Central Prison also referred to as ‘Jail Ogaden,’ has been at the center of a Human Rights Watch, HRW, report that exposed massive rights abuse of inmates held in the facility.
Reports by local media indicates that the facility will now be turned into a museum. Jail Ogaden was reported to be one of the tools of repression used by the former regional president Abdi Mohamoud popularly referred to as Abdi Illey.
He is currently the subject of an ongoing criminal court case. He was deposed months back and subsequently arrested by federal forces deployed to restore peace to the region.
Satellite image of Jail Ogaden, Jijiga, Ethiopia, recorded on May 27, 2016. Source Google Earth
The July 2018 HRW report on Jail Ogaden also called on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to probe widespread rights abuses routinely carried out on inmates.
The 88-page report asserted that “Prison officials and security forces have arbitrarily detained and tortured prisoners for years in the notorious regional prison known as Jail Ogaden.
“Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, should urgently order investigations into the horrific situation, and the government should ensure regional security forces and officials are held accountable.
“Most prisoners are accused of some affiliation with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a banned opposition group, but most never face charges or trials.”
ONLF welcomes the closure of Jail Ogaden which has been a torture chamber for many years. Many innocent people, including women, children and elderly people have been tortured, & many have been killed. We hope that the victims are honoured & the perpetrators held accountable.— ONLF (@ONLFofficial) September 22, 2018
HR activist Abdullahi Hussein ‘’The Edward Snowden of HoA’’ took a picture in front of the infamous ‘’Jail Ogaden’’ and says it’s officially closed !— Hikam dahir (@hikam_dahir) September 22, 2018
Back 2013,Mr.Hussein smuggled hundreds of footages showing the extrajudicial killings & gross human rights abuses in the region. pic.twitter.com/dJfpUgsRGr
The infamous ‘Jail Ogaden’ has been officially shut down!. This will hopefully bring an end to an era of atrocities, torture & forcefull disappearances. pic.twitter.com/xcxoYVICP8— Abdimalik Anwar (@ItsAnwar) September 22, 2018
Alhamdulilah! Jail Ogaden- a notorious detention centre in #Jigjiga is to close officially. Thousands of prisoners not convicted of a single crime were tortured and brutalised; many have sustained life-long injuries, presumed dead/missing while many lost their lives in there. pic.twitter.com/28Aqx9DPEs— Juweria (@BJuweria) September 22, 2018