Ethiopia: Abusive police unit must be stopped

Responding to reports that Ethiopia’s notorious Liyu police unit committed another round of unlawful killings, that may amount to extrajudicial executions, claiming at least 14 lives over the weekend, Amnesty International issued a fresh call for the government to immediately disband this police unit.
“The Liyu police unit must not be allowed to continue operating above the law, carrying out unlawful killings and destroying lives with impunity. This appalling loss of life must be investigated immediately and the killings brought to an end,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
Members of the unit, which was set up by the Somali state as a counter-terrorism special force, attacked three localities – Qobbo Bikka, Ulanula and Walensu – in Chinaksen district, Oromia on 8 June, killing three people and wounding another three.
Liyu police officers returned the next day and continued their attack on the three localities and then attacked two more – Darbiga and Gololcha – killing seven people and wounding 17.
On 10 June, they attacked five more localities in the same district – Geellaa, Hosale, Usweyne, Tiiro and Marar – killing four people and wounding another four.
“Ethiopian authorities must immediately stop these unlawful killings by the abusive Liyu police by disbanding the unit and taking urgent steps to ensure justice for the victims,” Joan Nyanyuki said.
The Liyu Police Unit, on 23 and 24 May 2018, attacked four localities (kebeles) in Chinaksen District of East Oromia Zone, killing five farmers and burning down about 50 homes. These attacks caused residents of these four kebeles and another four neighbouring ones to flee their homes for safety.
In 2017, their incursions into Oromia State resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people and the displacement of more than 1 million people, according to a report by Ethiopia’s National Disaster Risk Management Commission and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.