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Ethiopia: UN Rights Body Cannot Ignore the Situations in Turkey, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia

Human Rights Watch continues to be concerned about a number of country situations that are not receiving the attention they require from the Human Rights Council.

In Turkey, since the coup attempt on July 15, authorities have jailed over 22,000 soldiers, officers, police, judges and prosecutors on suspicion of involvement with the coup. Up to 100,000 teachers and public servants have been suspended or dismissed. At least 131 media outlets have been shut down, and an estimated 116 journalists are in jail pending criminal investigation – the vast majority since the coup attempt. The state of emergency and emergency decrees have removed crucial safeguards against ill treatment and torture.

The Council should urgently support calls by the High Commissioner to allow access to places of detention for independent observers, and for an independent investigation into the violations committed in southeast Turkey.

Bangladesh has been hit by a series of violent attacks, culminating in the July 1 assault by armed militants on a café in central Dhaka. This was preceded by attacks on free expression and religious freedom: nearly 50 were killed including secularists, LGBT activists, and religious figures. Initially slow to respond, in reaction to rising international criticism authorities have arrested people seemingly arbitrarily and en masse. Many are being held secretly; some have been killed in raids.

Security forces have a long history of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture, but the targeting of the political opposition has escalated in recent years. We are increasingly concerned at the lack of basic due process rights, particularly given a politicized judiciary which hands down judgments leading to executions. We urge states to raise this situation at the Council and directly with the government.

In Ethiopia, in August security forces repeatedly fired on generally peaceful protesters, bringing the death toll to over 500 since the suppression of demonstrations began in Oromia in November 2015. Thousands more have been wounded and arrested. Since the government systematically restricts independent media and civil society, there has been limited reporting on the crackdown and inadequate international attention to this ongoing crisis. These human rights violations as well as the persistent denial of country visits by Special Procedures are not consistent with Ethiopia’s obligations as a Council Member and Vice-President. Human Rights Watch urges the Council to raise concerns over the serious abuses, particularly in the Oromia and Amhara regions, and support the High Commissioner’s call for an independent investigation into the unlawful killings and other violations.


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