To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether he has had recent discussions with his counterpart in the Ethiopian Government on that government’s recent announcement of plans to release a number of political prisoners; what estimate he has made of the number of (a) such prisoners released since that announcement was made, (b) additional such prisoners for whose release plans have been made; what information he holds on the planned timescale for the release of that country’s remaining political prisoners; and if he will make a statement.
I have been in contact with the Ethiopian Foreign Minister following the 3 January announcement by Prime Minister Hailemariam to welcome this positive signal of movement towards opening up political space in Ethiopia. According to Ethiopia's Attorney General, the first group of detainees was released around 17 January and included 528 prisoners who had been charged but not convicted. On 26 January, the President of Oromia Regional State announced that over 2,000 prisoners were included in a further release in that region. A separate process, expected to take around two months, will consider pardons for prisoners who have already been convicted at the federal level. The Ethiopian Government has given no indication of the numbers involved. The British Government will remain in close contact with the Ethiopian authorities as they take this forward.