Ethiopia

No Data

Immigration detainees

Not Available

Detained children

2017

903,226

Refugees

2018

1,253,083

International migrants

2019

115,000,000

Population

2020

Overview

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

Related Reading

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.  

IMMIGRATION AND DETENTION-RELATED STATISTICS

Total number of detained minors
Not Available
2017
Criminal prison population
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
115,000,000
2020
99,391,000
2015
International migrants
1,253,083
2019
1,072,900
2015
718,200
2013
International migrants as a percentage of the population
1.1
2015
0.8
2013
Refugees
903,226
2018
889,412
2017
791,616
2016
736,086
2015
659,524
2014
Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
7.77
2016
6.8
2014
4.61
2013
Total number of new asylum applications
435
2016
3,037
2014
438
2013
Refugee recognition rate
100
2014
100
2013
Stateless persons
0
2016
0
2015
Total number of immigration detainees by year
Number of immigration detainees on a given day
Top nationalities of detainees
Number of persons granted alternatives to immigration detention
Number of detained asylum seekers
Number of detained unaccompanied minors
Number of detained accompanied minors
Number of detained stateless persons
Number of apprehensions of non-citizens
Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population
Estimated total immigration detention capacity
Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Number of dedicated medium-term immigration detention centres
Number of immigration offices
Number of transit facilities
Number of criminal facilities
Number of ad hoc facilities
Number of persons removed/returned (voluntary returns and deportations)
Number of deportations/forced returns only
Percentage of persons removed in relation to total number of people placed in removal procedures
Percentage of foreign prisoners
Estimated number of undocumented migrants

SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS

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
Remittances from the country
Unemployment rate amongst migrants
Detention for deterrence
Immigration Index Score
World Bank Rule of Law Index
Domestic Opinion Polls on Immigration

DOMESTIC LAWS AND POLICIES

Legal tradition
Civil law
2017
Customary law
2017
Constitutional guarantees?
Core pieces of national legislation
Additional legislation
Regulations, standards, guidelines
Immigration-status-related grounds
Non-immigration-status-related grounds providing for administrative detention in immigration legislation.
Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations?
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration
Has the country decriminalized immigration-related violations?
Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law.
Longest recorded instance of immigration detention.
Maximum length of time in custody prior to issuance of a detention order
Average length of detention
Maximum length of detention for asylum-seekers
Maximum length of detention for persons detained upon arrival at ports of entry
Provision of basic procedural standards
Types of non-custodial measures
Impact of alternatives
Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
Mandatory detention
Expedited/fast track removal
Re-entry ban

INTERNATIONAL LAW

International treaty reservations
Reservation Year
Observation Date
CRSR Article 22 1969
1969
1969
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted
Observation Date
0/7
2017
Regional legal instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
ACHPR, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights 1998
1998
ACRWC, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 2002
2002
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2010
2017
No 2014
2017
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Individual complaints procedure
Treaty bodies decisions on individual complaints
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies
Regional treaty reservations
Regional judicial decisions on individual complaints
Recommendations issued by regional human rights mechanisms
Bilateral/multilateral agreements linked to readmission
Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council
Relevant recommendations by UN Special Procedures

INSTITUTIONAL INDICATORS

Federal or centralized governing system
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority
Custodial authority
Apprehending authorities
Detention Facility Management
Formally designated detention estate?
Types of detention facilities used in practice
Authorized monitoring institutions
Is the national human rights institution (NHRI) recognized as independent?
Does NHRI carry out visits?
Does NHRI have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NHRI publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Does national preventive mechanism (NPM) carry out visits?
Does NPM have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NPM publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Do NGOs carry out visits?
NGO capacity to receive complaints?
Do NGOs publish reports on immigration detention?
Do parliamentary organs carry out visits?
Do parliamentary organs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do parliamentary organs publicly report on their detention findings?
Do internal inspection agencies (IIAs) carry out visits?
Do IIAs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do IIAs publicly report their findings from detention inspections?
Do international and/or regional bodies (IRBs) visit immigration-related detention facilities?
Do IRBs publicly report their findings from inspections?
Types of privatisation/outsourcing
Detention contractors and other non-state entities
Estimated annual budget for detention operations
Estimated annual budgets for particular detention-related activities
Estimated cost per detainees day (in USD)
Estimated annual budget for non-custodial measures (in USD)
Estimated costs of non-custodial measures (in USD)
Does the country receive external sources of funding?
Description of foreign assistance