The Atlantic Council’s Africa Center hosted a roundtable discussion with Leslie Lefkow, deputy director of the Africa division at the Human Rights Watch. Lefkow presented the findings of the recently released HRW report, They Want a Confession: Torture and Ill-Treatment in Ethiopia’s Maekelawi Police Station.
The 70-page report documents serious human rights abuses, unlawful interrogation tactics, and poor detention conditions in Maekelawi since 2010. Those detained in Maekelawi include scores of opposition politicians, journalists, protest organizers, and alleged supporters of ethnic insurgencies. Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 35 former Maekelawi detainees and their relatives who described how officials had denied their basic needs, tortured, and otherwise mistreated them to extract information and confessions, and refused them access to legal counsel and their relatives. The ensuing discussion on the report, moderated by Africa Center Deputy Director Bronwyn Bruton, focused on human rights abuses in the Addis Ababa-based detention center and efforts to promote accountability amongst law enforcement personnel in the region.