AHRE asks the Ethiopian government to respect the constitutional rights of citizens for safety and information, especially during the spread of Corona Virus pandemic.
The spread of Corona virus pandemic has gravely affected the everyday life of majority of the world’s population, the economy, and the political climate. We understand and stand in cooperation with appropriate measures government and health professionals are taking so as to minimize the spread of the virus and protect human lives.
Ethiopia is one of the many countries in the world to have confirmed cases of COVID19, with confirmed individuals being treated for the virus. The Ethiopian government is using all media and telecom services to raise awareness and prevent the spread of the virus, especially this past week. However, Ethiopian government has shut down internet and telecom services western Oromia region, where the military has been conducting operations against a rebel group.
AHRE strongly urges the government to lift these restrictions, especially now where citizens need information to protect themselves and their community. It is very hard if not impossible to fight the virus without regular and accurate information, and without proper communication with health professionals, media and other concerned bodies. Families living elsewhere also have the right to communicate and to know the health status of their loved ones.
AHRE urges the Ethiopian government not to put the lives of innocents at risk by restricting internet access and telephone lines. The government must be able to find a solution to the ongoing conflict through peaceful means. Citizens in that area should not continue to pay for the bitter conflicts through their lives. We ask the government to respect the constitutional rights of citizens for safety and information, not just during this pandemic where it is very critical, but also at all times. No human being should risk losing life due to lack of communication. Not availing communication means, including internet and telephone particularly during this pandemic hinders the attempt to contain it and endangers the communities under restriction and–due to the nature of the virus–beyond.