Ethiopia says U.N. staff will face penalties if they break the law

Ethiopia says U.N. staff will face penalties if they break the law
# 11 November 2021 21:50 (UTC +04:00)

Ethiopian staff working for the United Nations or African Union do not live "in space" and will be punished for any lawbreaking, the government said on Thursday, after the arrest of several U.N. employees for unspecified offences, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Ethiopia declared a state of emergency on Nov. 2 after rebellious forces from the northern region of Tigray and their allies made territorial gains and threatened to march on the capital.

Since then, hundreds of Tigrayans have been arrested in Addis Ababa, families and colleagues say, along with 16 U.N. staff members whose ethnicity has not been disclosed.

Seven of the U.N. staff were later released.

Police say the arrests are not ethnically motivated.

"U.N. staff who reside in Ethiopia should respect the law of the country," foreign ministry spokesman Dina Mufti told a news conference. "They live in Ethiopia, not in space. Whether it is a U.N. or AU staff member, they shall be held accountable."

Foreign citizens have also been caught up in the wave of arrests.

A very small number of British nationals have been detained in Ethiopia, and the U.K. government has formally raised their cases with the Ethiopian authorities and requested immediate consular access, the U.K. government told Reuters.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said the United States is concerned about reports of detentions of a number of U.S. citizens in Ethiopia and is in discussion with the Ethiopian government about it.