Monday 23 April 2018

Ethiopia to release all political prisoners, says prime minister

Ethiopia to release all political prisoners, says prime minister
(BBC News Africa 01/03/18)

Ethiopia's prime minister has announced the release of all political prisoners and the closure of a notorious detention centre which allegedly used torture to extract confessions.

Hailemariam Desalegn told a press conference charges would also be dropped for those still awaiting trial.

The move was designed to allow political dialogue, he said.

Ethiopia is accused by human rights groups of using mass arrests and detention to stifle opposition.

Are Ethiopian protests a game changer?
Ethiopia PM Hailemariam Desalegn 'open to criticism'
However, this is the first time the government has admitted to having any political prisoners, previously describing them as "criminals", BBC Ethiopia correspondent Emmanuel Igunza says.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the government of using anti-terrorism laws to jail its critics.

Who are the political prisoners?
Those held in jails across the country include opposition activists from the Amhara and Oromia regions, which were at the centre of anti-government protests in 2015 and 2016, as well as the Southern Nations and Nationalities Peoples Region, and journalists who have criticised the government.

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