“Security forces have overreacted and needlessly beaten people, used tear gas, plastic and lethal bullets, and other excessive measures including on older persons and children resulting in at least one death, several bodily injuries and distress on people gathered around Menelik Square for the national celebration. Official ceremonies appeared orderly after the security forces sealed off the various venues from access to the general public, but after the official ceremony, a traditional, popular and peaceful gathering of people around Menelik Square and a religious congregation in nearby Saint George Church was violently disrupted by the unnecessary and excessive actions of the security forces, whose primary responsibility should have been to protect the safety and security of the public and safeguard the human rights of all persons. Implicated law enforcement officials must be subject to accountability and law enforcement officers should be adequately trained to avoid similar incidents.”

The Chief Commissioner reiterated the human rights principle in the Guidelines for the Policing of Assemblies by Law Enforcement Officials in Africa adopted by the African Commission which provides that, “The use of force is an exceptional measure. In carrying out their duties, law enforcement officials shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent methods before resorting to the use of force and firearms. Force and firearms may only be used if other means of achieving a legitimate law enforcement objective are ineffective or unlikely to be successful. Law enforcement officials must, as far and for as long as possible, differentiate between peaceful assembly participants and those who engage in violent acts. An assembly should be deemed peaceful if its organisers have expressed peaceful intentions, and if the conduct of the assembly participants is generally peaceful. ‘Peaceful’ shall be interpreted to include conduct that annoys or gives offence as well as conduct that temporarily hinders, impedes or obstructs the activities of third parties. Isolated acts of violence do not render an assembly as a whole non-peaceful.”