Ethiopia denies rights abuses

March 5, 2009

Addis Ababa – Ethiopia on Wednesday rejected a US State Department report that highlighted human rights abuses in the Horn of Africa nation.

In its annual report on global human rights, the US body said government troops had arbitrarily detained, tortured and killed political opponents while it also accused the government of restricting political space.

“This report, deliberately and consistently, minimises and denigrates any advances. It is carefully written to disparage,” an Ethiopian foreign ministry statement said.

“The litany of allegations in this report doesn’t represent reality… It is no more than a collection of unsubstantiated accusations from groups seeking to undermine Ethiopia’s process of democratisation.”

Hundreds of political prisoners had been jailed in 2008, according to the report, while civil courts were “subject to political influence and intervention”.

Teddy Afro arrest


The report said the arrest of popular singer Teddy Afro also showed signs of political interference.

The 32-year-old, who is known to be close to the opposition, was initially sentenced to 6 years in prison for manslaughter during a car crash in 2006 but the sentence was significantly reduced last month.

“The expeditious incarceration and prosecution of Afro’s case 18 months after the alleged incident suggest political interference rather than solely delays in pursuing the case,” the report said.

The report also highlighted the use of “excessive force” in the Somali region, where the government is carrying out a counter-insurgency operation against separatist groups.

But Ethiopia, a key ally in Washington’s “war on terror”, dismissed all allegations.

“The annual report of the US State Department is perhaps an inevitable and annual irritant in the otherwise excellent relations between the US and Ethiopia.”

Source – AFP