Ethiopia

Not Available

Immigration detainees

2019

Not Available

Detained children

2017

443

New asylum applications

2019

733,123

Refugees

2019

1,253,083

International migrants

2019

Overview

(August 2016) Although Ethiopia is an important refugee host country as well as transit country for African migrants and asylum seekers trying to reach the Gulf or Europe, little is known about its immigration-related detention practices. The country is also a major source country and Ethiopians account for the vast majority of people arriving in Yemen.

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

04 September 2020

Z. Zelalem and W. Brown, “International Condemnation Rains Down on Saudi Arabia After Telegraph Investigation Into Hellish Detention Centres,” The Telegraph, 1 September 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/international-condemnation-rains-saudi-arabia-telegraph-investigation/
Z. Zelalem and W. Brown, “International Condemnation Rains Down on Saudi Arabia After Telegraph Investigation Into Hellish Detention Centres,” The Telegraph, 1 September 2020, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/international-condemnation-rains-saudi-arabia-telegraph-investigation/

Following Human Rights Watch’s report highlighting the dire conditions that Ethiopian migrants have been held in in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic (see our 21 August update on Saudi Arabia on this platform), the Telegraph has revealed that the Ethiopian government has attempted to silence those stuck inside Saudi detention facilities. A leaked document submitted to the newspaper--which bears the stamp of the Ethiopian consulate in Jeddah, and which is dated 24 June 2020--warned detained Ethiopians of “legal repercussions” if they continue to upload images and videos from detention. According to the document, footage and images were causing “distress for families and the greater Ethiopian community.” The Telegraph claims that the Ethiopian government has sought to avoid excessive focus on Saudi Arabia’s detention of its nationals to avoid a diplomatic fall-out with the country, which is an important source of foreign exchange for Ethiopia. The Telegraph also revealed additional details about the inhuman conditions in these facilities (30 August 2020), reporting similar scenes to those unearthed by Human Rights Watch as well as that fact that several detainees had committee suicide. The multiple reports about Saudia Arabia’s treatment of detainees have prompted condemnation from a host of governments. The British government stated that it was “very concerned” by the reports; a spokesman for UN Secretary General, António Guterres, said that the UN was also investigating; and the IOM warned that the unhealthy, overcrowded facilities could become “breeding grounds” for fatal diseases. In response, Saudi authorities reportedly told the Telegraph that the government is “looking into the state of all official government facilities in light of the allegations.”


20 August 2020

J. Ashly, “Eritrean Refugees in Ethiopia Resist Camp Closure amid COVID-19 Fears,” The New Humanitarian, 17 August 2020, https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2020/08/17/Ethiopia-Eritrea-refugee-camps-coronavirus
J. Ashly, “Eritrean Refugees in Ethiopia Resist Camp Closure amid COVID-19 Fears,” The New Humanitarian, 17 August 2020, https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news-feature/2020/08/17/Ethiopia-Eritrea-refugee-camps-coronavirus

Ethiopia has a history of sheltering refugees and has long maintained an open-door asylum policy. The country hosts an estimated 769,000 refugees and other “people of concern.” Unlike in many other countries in the region, refugees have the right to access health care services in Ethiopia. However, after the onset of the Covid crisis, there have been reports of surging xenophobic sentiment as foreigners have been blamed for spreading the virus.

Refugees in Ethiopia were long forced to remain in designated camps. However, in early 2019, the government adopted a law giving refugees the right to live, work, and access other services outside the camps. Nevertheless, many people continue to reside within camps. In April, the government announced its intention to close Hitsats refugee camp and relocate all 27,000 inhabitants to Adi Harush and Mai Aini refugee camps, a move that UNHCR quickly criticised. Highlighting the need to avoid situations of overcrowding during the pandemic, the refugee agency warned that such a plan would risk exposing thousands to dangerous Covid outbreaks. (The number of cases in the country is already one of the highest in the continent: as of 19 August, it had recorded 32,722 cases and more than 570 deaths. On 9 June, the first case was confirmed within the refugee population.)

Previously, on 8 August, UNHCR reported that it had set up isolation units in all refugee camps to temporarily quarantine any suspected cases. The agency also said that it established 37,000 handwashing stations, trained more than 2,150 health and community outreach workers, and distributed 140,000 face masks.

The Global Detention Project has been unable to confirm many concrete details about Ethiopia’s immigration detention practices. However, there have been occasional reports of authorities arresting and deporting migrants as they pass through the country. These reports indicate that foreigners are detained in the country’s prisons prior to deportation. On 6 May, the Federal Commissioner for Prisons reported that 40,000 prisoners had been released since March (out of a total prison population of 110,000)--although no information is available confirming whether non-nationals in deportation procedures were amongst those released.


Last updated: August 2016

Ethiopia Immigration Detention Profile

    Ethiopia is an important refugee host country as well as a transit country for people seeking to make their way to the Gulf States or Europe, particularly from South Central Somalia and Somaliland.[1]

    Little is known about the migrant detention practices of Ethiopia. However, there have been occasional reports of authorities arresting and deporting migrants as they pass through the country. Foreigners appear to be detained in the country’s prisons prior to deportation.

    The government reportedly allows the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) to visit prisons and consular officials and NGO representatives have met with prisoners. However, conditions in Ethiopian prisons are generally poor. Issues include children being incarcerated alongside adults, extreme overcrowding, limited access to potable water, and unreliable medical care.

    In addition to being a transit country for migrants, Ethiopia hosts the largest population of refugees in Africa. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that, as of December 2014, the country was hosting 644,168 refugees. The majority of these refugees are from South Sudan and Somalia. Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs, along with the UNHCR, has supported these refugees by providing camps with access to healthcare, education, water, sanitation, and hygiene.

     

    [1] This summary relies primarily on information provided in the U.S. State Department’s 2014 human rights report on Ethiopia, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/236570.pdf; and the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat’s 2015 report, Behind Bars: The Detention of Migrants in and from the East & Horn of Africa, http://www.regionalmms.org.  

    ENFORCEMENT DATA

    Total Detainees/ Stock & Flow (Year)
    Not Available
    2019
    Total Number of Children Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
    Not Available
    2017
    Criminal Prison Population (Year)
    111,050
    2012
    112,361
    2010
    86,366
    2009
    72,211
    2006
    66,037
    2003
    55,209
    2000
    Prison Population Rate (per 100,000 of National Population)
    128
    2012
    136
    2010
    107
    2009
    96
    2006
    94
    2003
    85
    2000

    POPULATION DATA

    Population (Year)
    115,000,000
    2020
    99,391,000
    2015
    International Migrants (Year)
    1,253,083
    2019
    1,072,900
    2015
    718,200
    2013
    International Migrants as Percentage of Population (Year)
    1.1
    2015
    0.8
    2013
    Refugees (Year)
    733,123
    2019
    903,226
    2018
    889,412
    2017
    791,616
    2016
    736,086
    2015
    659,524
    2014
    Ratio of Refugees Per 1000 Inhabitants (Year)
    7.77
    2016
    6.8
    2014
    4.61
    2013
    New Asylum Applications (Year)
    443
    2019
    435
    2016
    3,037
    2014
    438
    2013
    Refugee Recognition Rate (Year)
    100
    2014
    100
    2013
    Stateless Persons (Year)
    0
    2016
    0
    2015

    SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA & POLLS

    Gross Domestic Product per Capita (in USD)
    573
    2014
    Remittances to the Country
    646
    2014
    Unemployment Rate
    2014
    Net Official Development Assistance (ODA) (in Millions USD)
    3,585.1
    2014
    Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
    174 (Low)
    2015
    Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration
    75
    2007

    B. Attitudes and Perceptions

    MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

    LEGAL & REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

    GROUNDS FOR MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

    LENGTH OF MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

    MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION INSTITUTIONS

    PROCEDURAL STANDARDS & SAFEGUARDS

    DETENTION MONITORS

    TRANSPARENCY

    READMISSION/RETURN/EXTRADITION AGREEMENTS

    COVID-19

    HEALTH CARE

    COVID-19 DATA

    INTERNATIONAL TREATIES

    International Treaties Ratified
    Ratification Year
    Observation Date
    CTOCTP, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
    2012
    2012
    CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
    2010
    2010
    CAT, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
    1994
    1994
    ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    1993
    1993
    ICCPR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
    1993
    1993
    CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child
    1991
    1991
    CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
    1981
    1981
    ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
    1976
    1976
    CRSR, Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
    1969
    1969
    PCRSR, Protocol to the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
    1969
    1969
    Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
    Ratio: 10/19
    Treaty Reservations
    Reservation Year
    Observation Date
    CRSR Article 22 1969
    1969
    1969
    Ratio of Complaints Procedures Accepted
    Observation Date
    0/7
    2017

    NON-TREATY-BASED INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

    Relevant Recommendations from the UN Universal Periodic Review
    Observation Date
    No 2010
    2017
    No 2014
    2017

    REGIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

    Regional Legal Instruments
    Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
    Observation Date
    ACHPR, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights 1998
    1998
    ACRWC, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 2002
    2002

    GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

    Legal Tradition(s)
    Civil law
    2017
    Customary law
    2017

    DETENTION COSTS

    OUTSOURCING

    FOREIGN SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR DETENTION OPERATIONS