3 January 2018

Ethiopia to Close Down Notorious Prison, to Release All Political Prisoners

Addis Abeba — At a joint press briefing given by the four chairpersons of EPRDF's member parties, PM Hailemariam Desalegn, who is the chairperson of SEPDM, said his government will close down the notorious prison ward (and a torture chamber by all accounts) called Mae'kelawi. The Prime Minister said Mae'kelawi will be turned into a "modern museum".

PM Hailemariam also said a new center has been established to replace Ma'ekelawi based on the national parliament's guidelines on human rights and international standards.

In addition to that the Prime Minister said charges will be dropped for all "political prisoners" who are currently under prosecution and pardons will be issued to all who have already been convicted and are serving their sentences in order to create the space for a national dialogue and national consensus. The promise reveals that the government believes in the presence of prisoners of conscience, something authorities have never admitted in the past.

The announcement came days after Ethiopian netizen community have held a day-long social media campaign on December 27 aimed at remembering fellow prisoners of conscience jailed in several prison facilities in Ethiopia.

The issue of releasing political prisoners was also one of the burning issues at the front and center of the persistent anti-government protests that rocked Ethiopia for two consecutive years. AS


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