Police in Addis Ababa Urged to Stop ‘Arbitrary Arrest over Face Mask’

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has urged police to stop the arbitrary arrest of people on the streets of Addis Ababa for not wearing face mask.

Health experts have long been advising people to wear masks over their mouths and noses when venturing out of their homes into places where it is difficult to maintain distance from other people.

The government is now making it mandatory with the police starting to enforce it in Addis Ababa and force residents to wear mask/scarf not only in taxis and busses but also on streets since Wednesday morning.

The process has led to an arbitrary arrest of citizens in Ethiopia’s capital, says the commission, after police arrested over 1, 600 people for not wearing face mask.

The Commission says it has received complaints from the public of arrests by police in the city of Addis Ababa for not wearing face masks.

“Covering nose and mouth are recommended health measures to prevent the spread of #COVID19 and the public needs to follow these critical health directives,” Daniel Bekele, head of the Commission.

He said, “Indeed, the Emergency Regulations impose an obligation to wear face-covering in public service areas such as markets, shops, transport services or other public spaces with a large number of people where social distancing is not possible”.

“Otherwise, arbitrary arrest of people on the streets is outside the regulation, disproportionate and counter-productive measure which should stop immediately and all those detained should be released immediately,” the commissioner said.

To date, Ethiopia has tested over 42, 000 people for coronavirus and 263 confirmed cases including 5 deaths.  Public health experts believe the number increase further.