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Ethiopia Rejects calls by UN & EU for Investigations over Protest Deaths

By Nangayi Guyson –nangayi.guyson@alleastafrica.com

Kampala, Uganda – Calls by the UN and EU for independent investigations into the killings of people during anti-government protests in Ethiopia last year have been rejected by Ethiopian Prime Minister (PM) Hailemariam Desalegn.

The UN and EU said last year that they were extremely concerned about the death of protesters in Ethiopia. The  Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), Elena Valenciano (S&D, ES), released  statement calling for an independent investigation  into  2 October killings that claimed  the lives of at least 50 people after police  fired teargas and warning shots to disperse anti-government protesters at the religious Ireecha festival in Bishoftu, triggering a stampede.

Opposition groups then estimated the death toll at more than 600.

Zeid Raad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, had also on August last year called for international observers to investigate the killings after accusing security forces of using live ammunition against protestors in the Amhara and Oromia regions.

But Hailemariam told the BBC that an investigation by the Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission was the only way to deal with the issue.

He said Ethiopia’s sovereignty should be respected and rejected the call for external investigations.

He pointed out that the Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission was an independent institution, but admitted that it “lacked capacity” and could be strengthened. The prime minister also explained that the state of emergency had brought back “normalcy” to the country and added that those who were arrested are being held in prison and will face the judicial process.

The prime minister also defended the state of emergency, the government imposed in October last year and still extended for four month by parliament saying it has brought “normalcy” to the country and it was necessary.

Mr Hailemariam told BBC that the Ethiopian government is now focusing on solving the unemployment issue, especially among the youth, which brought resentment.

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