Ethiopia rights body concerned about detentions under state of emergency

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Ethiopia's state-appointed rights commission said on Wednesday some human rights were not being upheld during the current national state of emergency and expressed concern about conditions in detention centres that it was unable to access.

Ethiopia declared the state of emergency on Nov. 2, a year after a conflict erupted between the federal government and forces aligned with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the political party controlling the northern region of Tigray.

"Overall in its investigation, the commission has found that the state of emergency was not executed in a manner that upholds the principles of human rights such as 'utmost necessity, proportionality and impartiality'," Ethiopia's Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said in a statement.

Government spokesperson Legesse Tulu, police spokesperson Fasika Fanta, and the spokesperson at the attorney general's office, Awol Sultan, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The six-month state of emergency allows suspects to be detained without trial for as long as the proclamation lasts and allows house-to-house searches without a warrant.

Thousands of people are estimated to have been arrested across Addis Ababa since the state of emergency was declared, EHRC said.

EHRC said it was denied access to many detention centres.

Most detainees are being held in police stations, and when they get too full, in youth centres and schools, EHRC said, adding some are taken to Aba Samuel high security prison.

EHRC only obtained complete data from Kirkos, an Addis Ababa district, where 714 people were detained as of Nov. 11.

It called for the immediate release of vulnerable detainees including the elderly and breast-feeding mothers.

Detainees, many of whom are Tigrayan, believe they were arrested for their ethnicity, the EHRC said. Police have previously said the arrests are not ethnically motivated but are aimed at detaining TPLF supporters.

Some detention centres are overcrowded and do not provide adequate access to health care, EHRC said.

Reporting by Addis Ababa Newsroom Editing by Gareth Jones

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