WATCH: Rights group says Ethiopia tortures ethnic Somalis at secret jail

accreditation
(iStock)
(iStock)

Suspected members of a separatist group in Ethiopia's Somali region are being tortured, raped and starved at a secret prison, Human Rights Watch alleged on Thursday.

The New York-based watchdog called for an investigation by the Ethiopian government into the allegations concerning suspected members of the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) at the prison in the southeastern region.

Rights groups have often accused Ethiopian security forces of abuse, particularly against rebel groups that have targeted the one-party rule of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Since taking office in April, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has sought to end these insurgencies and address rights violations.

Last month, he publicly acknowledged torture carried out by security services, describing it as a form of "terrorism".

He has also backed legislation to decriminalise armed groups such as the ONLF.

Attacks by the ONLF have tapered off since Ethiopia launched a crackdown a decade ago after the rebels killed 77 at a Chinese oil venture in 2007.

Last year the group's commander Abdikarim Muse was handed over to Ethiopia by Somalia, which was holding him.

HRW said the documented abuses occurred at a detention facility - known as "Jail Ogaden" - between 2011 and this year, adding that most people brought to the facility were never formally charged.

It said the government must establish a commission to investigate the allegations and hold those responsible to account.

"The scale of torture and abuse in Jail Ogaden cannot be overstated," said researcher Felix Horne. "Abiy should continue to publicly condemn torture and take action on Jail Ogaden to show he is serious about stopping torture and ending impunity."

Somali region is Ethiopia's second-largest, bordering, Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia, and is one of the country's most volatile areas.

* Sign up to News24's top Africa news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO THE HELLO AFRICA NEWSLETTER

FOLLOW News24 Africa on Twitter and Facebook

Intense ethnic clashes, beginning last year along the shared border between Somali and neighbouring Oromia region, have so far displaced over a million people and killed hundreds.

Rights groups blame the regional security force, called the Liyu police, for being behind the worst abuses as well as instigating ethnic fighting, with the approval of the regional government.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Children between 12 and 17 can now be vaccinated against Covid-19. As a parent I am:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Relieved, it's been a long wait to this point
47% - 248 votes
A bit hesitant, and will wait to see how it goes
20% - 104 votes
Completely against my child getting the shot
33% - 172 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.45
+0.8%
Rand - Pound
19.96
+0.5%
Rand - Euro
16.82
+0.6%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.85
+0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.6%
Gold
1,785.02
+0.9%
Silver
24.34
+2.9%
Palladium
2,078.01
-1.1%
Platinum
1,053.50
+1.0%
Brent Crude
85.08
+0.9%
Top 40
60,348
+0.3%
All Share
66,895
+0.2%
Resource 10
63,203
-0.1%
Industrial 25
85,486
+0.6%
Financial 15
14,008
-0.1%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE