Ethiopian government announces death penalty for rape, armed robbery and “crime against the nation”

Warring parties in Ethiopia agree on cessation of hostilities in a bid to end weeks of bloodshed in a country where tens of thousands of people have been killed and tens of thousands more displaced.

A statement from Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, was read out later on Sunday, and the country’s armed forces said the troops involved had declared a cease-fire.

The violence began in February after Abiy announced in a speech on YouTube that he was re-introducing the death penalty to Ethiopia, following the abolition of the death penalty in neighbouring Eritrea.

The government announced that it was introducing the death penalty for rape, armed robbery and “the crime against the nation”, referring to Ethiopia’s ethnic unrest, which has also taken place in neighbouring Sudan and Somalia.

But critics said the death penalty was discriminatory because the majority of those convicted of the crimes were from the Oromo, an ethnic group that has been the target of discrimination and violence.

In recent months, the protests have spread and become increasingly violent in places such as Ode town, in the Oromiya regional state, the epicentre of the protests, which have claimed more than 200 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands.

Amnesty International said it had seen significant evidence that hundreds of people had been raped by the security forces.

The UN human rights agency Amnesty said there was an “apparent disregard for human rights”, particularly in those who were members of the Oromo community, and called on the authorities to immediately investigate serious allegations of human rights violations.

The UN security council demanded that the Ethiopian government act to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violence and ensure that their rights were protected.

The Ethiopian government has not commented on the death of six people shot dead by police in Addis Ababa on Sunday.

Earlier on Saturday, the Ethiopian authorities said that five people were killed in Addis Ababa on Saturday night in a police exchange of gunfire.

In response, the UN rights chief called on the Ethiopian authorities to allow independent monitoring of the peace negotiations, and said the rights situation had “deteriorated in recent months”.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra

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