AI – Reacting to the comments of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who announced the release of all political prisoners and the closure of a notorious detention center, Fisseha Tekle, Amnesty International’s researcher on Ethiopia, said:
“This announcement could augur the end of an era of bloody repression in Ethiopia. For prisoners who had spent years behind bars for fabricated and politically motivated charges, she was slow in coming.
“Most were arrested solely for their peaceful human rights work and should never have been incarcerated. We call on the Ethiopian authorities to implement this decision as quickly as possible by freeing them immediately and unconditionally. They must also repeal or significantly change the repressive laws that permitted their incarceration, including the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.
“If the announced closure of the notorious Maekelawi Detention Center is good news, it should not be used to cover up the horrible events that took place there. For years, Maekelawi has mostly functioned as a torture chamber, used by the Ethiopian authorities to brutally interrogate anyone who dares to bring dissenting opinions, including peaceful protesters, journalists and opposition figures.
“A new chapter for human rights can only be opened if all allegations of torture and ill-treatment are investigated and those responsible are brought to justice. We also call for investigations into the dozens of enforced disappearances that have occurred since 1991 – it is not enough to release some peaceful dissidents while the fate of so many remains unknown. “