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Ethiopia to close notorious prison and free all political prisoners

12 January 2018

The Ethiopian government on Wednesday ordered the release of all political prisoners and the closure of its notorious Maekelawi prison camp. As a replacement, an investigation center which meets global standards was built, as per the proclamation approved by Ethiopia's House of People's Representatives.

Picture: Anti-government protester in Ethiopia.

Some convicted prisoners who are now in prison for commiting a crime will be released and those whose cases held by prosecutors will be dropped, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said in his official facebook page.

The announcement was hailed by human rights groups as an amnesty for the country's political prisoners, who are estimated to number in the thousands, even though Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister, did not explicitly mention political prisoners in his address.

The complainants accused the government of resorting to mass arrests to repress the opposition, as the inmates arrived there after making protests across the country to demand political and economic reforms.

Some of the prominent politicians now in custody include opposition leaders Bekele Gerba and Merara Gudina, and several journalists also remain in detention.

Desalegn, who had promised the general public to reshuffle his government, had also introduced new cabinet members, of which only 9 of the ministers in the 30-member cabinet remained in their previous positions.

"A new chapter for human rights will only be possible if all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment are effectively investigated and those responsible brought to justice".

In what appears to be a concrete answer to the preoccupations of the public, the Ethiopian government had been undertaking various measures over the past two and half years, which include a large scale anti-corruption investigation and arrest of government officials.

Ethiopia to close notorious prison and free all political prisoners