News / World / Africa

Mel Frykberg
1 minute read
4 Jan 2018
10:32 am

Ethiopia to close notorious prison camp, release political prisoners

Mel Frykberg

Ethiopia has seen months of deadly anti-government protests, the most serious since the current administration came to power in 1991.

Ethiopia will drop charges against political prisoners and close a notorious prison camp following months of political unrest, news agency AP reported.

Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn confirmed the move on Wednesday, saying it was an effort to “widen the democratic space for all.”

“Political prisoners that are facing prosecutions and are already under arrest will be released,” Hailemariam said. “And the notorious prison cell that was traditionally called Maekelawi will be closed down and turned into a museum.”

This is the first time the government has acknowledged holding political prisoners.

Ethiopia has seen months of deadly anti-government protests, the most serious since the current administration came to power in 1991.

The restive regions of Oromia and Amhara were hardest hit by the demonstrations which eventually spread to other parts of the country, leading to a months-long state of emergency which has now been lifted.

Hundreds were killed and tens of thousands of people arrested during the protests which began in late 2015.

Human rights organisations in the Horn-of-Africa country have been calling for the release of political prisoners for months while reporting wide-spread abuses at Maekalawi.

Ethiopia’s government has attempted to downplay the prime minister’s announcement.

Spokesman, Zadig Abraha, insisted the country had no political prisoners and that “some members of political parties and other individuals that have been allegedly suspected of committing crimes and those convicted will be pardoned or their cases interrupted, based on an assessment that will be made.”

It remains unclear how many political prisoners are being held in the country or when they will be released.

–  African News Agency (ANA)

EU urges probe after dozens killed in Ethiopia clashes

For more news your way, follow The Citizen on Facebook and Twitter.