Government Engaged in Cruel And Inhumane Actions Against Street Children in Addis Ababa
The World Organisation Against Torture (Geneva)
The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO), a member of the
OMCT network, that the government is engaged in cruel and inhumane actions against street children in Addis Ababa.
Due to the recent conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia, children who do not have parents or economically strong relatives to
support them are forced to discontinue their education. The streets, churches, mosques, bus and taxi stations of cities in
Ethiopia are crowded by a increasing number of these defenseless citizens.
According to the information received, as of February 2001, the government tried to solve this problem by rounding them up,
taking them to and abandoning them to hyenas and other wild animals in forests outside the city. A number of the children that
EHRCO has been able to interview reported that some of their friends, especially the very young and weak, which had been
taken with them to these forests, have so far not returned.
For instance, according to the information received, 14 year old Yirgalem Melaku was among those picked up on 29 April,
taken to Dukem and abandoned in the woods. Yirgalem has not returned and his whereabouts are still unknown. His friends
fear hyenas may have eaten him.
According to EHRCO, between March and April 2001, the police detained destitute children at Kolfe Police Training Camp
(KPTC) where they were made to perform various military-like "sports" and, later, taken and abandoned at such places as
Dukem, Sebeta and Kara Qore. Some of these children managed to return to Addis Ababa in spite of the threats and strict
instructions they had received from the police not to come back to the city. As pointed out earlier, it is feared that some may
not have been as lucky.
In addition to what the government has been doing to the destitute, it has started a similar campaign against those children that
have been trying to survive and support their families by selling newspapers, magazines, and second-hand items in the streets.
These children are also being picked up from the streets, taken to Kolfe Police Training Camp, and made to perform
military-like "sports". Then, they are made to sign written statements that they "will never again sell newspapers or other things
anywhere in the city", and released. A number of these children have also reported their grievances to EHRCO. It has not been
possible to include samples of these, since the children are frightened of even more serious retaliation.
So far, EHRCO has registered 41 children who have been persecuted by the police (a list is available at the International
Secretariat of OMCT).
Please write to the authorities in Ethiopia urging them to:
- take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of street children in Ethiopia; - put an
immediate end to the persecution and harassment of these children; - order a thorough and impartial investigation into the
circumstances of these events in order to identify those responsible, bring them to a competent and impartial civil tribunal and
apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law; - guarantee the respect of human rights and the
fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards and, in
particular, the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
His Excellency Dr Negasso Gidada, President of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Office of the President, P O Box 1031,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Fax : + 2511 552030
Mr. Mahteme Solomon, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, P O Box 1370, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Fax : + 2511 550722
Please also write to the embassies of Ethiopia in your respective country.
Geneva, May 8, 2001
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
Copyright © 2001 The World Organisation Against Torture.
Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).