Ethiopian Rights Commission Says Eritrean Refugees and Asylum Seekers Subjected to Arbitrary Arrest in Addis Abeba

Addis Abeba — The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said following complaints filed to the commission by Eritrean refugees and Asylum seekers in Addis Abeba, it observed that hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers, mostly Eritreans have been imprisoned in several sub-cities in the capital on the basis of failing to present documents revealing their immigration status.

The commission said in a statement on 02 June, the refugees and Asylum seekers were arrested arbitrarily and without court warrant, adding that while many are still behind bars without being charged, the majority were released after being detained at various times.

EHRC said, while visiting refugees and asylum-seekers who were detained at the police stations of Akaki Kality sub-city, it noticed that there were individuals imprisoned for 10 days without appearing before the court.

According to the commission, the prisoners were told that the reason for their imprisonment is getting to the city without permit to leave the refugee camp, and engaging in work without permit.

The commission also said it realized that there are refugees with unrenewed identity cards to show their immigration status among the prisoners, adding that some of them have language barriers to properly explain their cases. It however noted that those who have documents are being released while their cases are being investigated.

“Unlawful detention of refugees and asylum seekers not only restricts their right to freedom of movement, but also jeopardizes refugees’ protection, and the efforts to provide lasting solutions to the problems they face,” EHRC noted.