Ethiopia - State of Emergency Remains a Concern


Announcements made by recently appointed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed indicate a welcome commitment by the ruling party to advance democracy and address human rights concerns in Ethiopia.

In several instances these statements have been backed up with action, notably the release of prisoners from jail and the closure of the country’s notorious detention and investigation centre Maekelawi.

The state of emergency, instituted in February remains in play however. Introduced the day after former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned, the move was justified in terms of stemming the wave of anti-government protests and ensuring a peaceful transition of power. A ten-month state of emergency was previously instituted in October 2016 after more than 500 fatalities were recorded in anti-government protests.

Under the current state of emergency various restrictions apply, including the banning of protests or any form of group assembly, displaying signs that could stir up violence, and the preparing, printing or circulating of information that could cause disturbance or suspicion. The government is also able to shut down media and impose public curfews as it sees fit.