More than 2,800 people have been arrested in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for failing to wear face masks in public places and for violating the social distancing rules outlined under country’s state of emergency, the Addis Ababa Police Commission disclosed Saturday.
To enforce the emergency decree, police in Addis Ababa have this week started patrolling areas that are known for being highly crowded under normal circumstances, including busy marketplaces, transport service and at public service providing areas.
Accordingly, 1,941 individuals were arrested for not wearing a face mask, while 860 were held for violating social distancing rules.
Twelve individuals were also arrested for shaking hands, Nation has learnt.
On April 8, Ethiopia declared a five-month state of emergency that has given extra power to law enforcement bodies to enforce the decree.
The latest police actions seems paradoxical to country’s previous move of releasing thousands of inmates to contain the spread of the virus.
In reaction to police measures, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said “arbitrary arrests” being made by police against people going out without wearing masks was “needless”
“Indeed, the Emergency Regulations imposed as an obligation to wear face masks in public services are critical to health directives,” the commission said in a statement.
However “arbitrary arrest of people on the streets is outside the regulation, disproportionate and counter-productive measure should stop immediately”
The rights group urged government authorities to immediately release the detainees.
Ethiopia has so far reported 267 coronavirus cases and five deaths. At least 112 patients have recovered from the disease.