Ethiopian Police Detain Thousands of Civilians for Not Wearing Masks

By Staff Reporter

Masks-Addis-AbabaMay 13, 2020 ( -- Ethiopian federal police on Wednesday detained thousands of civilians who do not wear masks on the streets of Addis Ababa without prior notice.

The state of emergency declared by the government in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic does not state if it is compulsory to put the face masks on while leaving homes. has witnessed that the police apprehended hundreds of passersby who did not wear a mask around areas called Torhailoch, Mexico, and National Theater and placed them on the premises of Misraq Goh School in casa Inchis area.

The temporary detentions were carried out in different parts of the capital and people were kept in mass against the ruling of the state of emergency and prevention of COVID-19.

The ongoing state of emergency orders people to wear face masks in the market, transportation, and public places in compliance with the social distancing of two meters between each other in line with the guidance from the WHO.

 “We (about 600 people) were kept in the school’s premises for at least three hours and some of us were freed after filling personal data forms,” one of the people who underwent temporary detention told further learned any attempts to record the situation by cell phones were met with mistreatment by the police.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission demanded the government to free the detainees without any precondition.

Last week, the Ethiopian Ministry of Transport issued a directive ordering passengers in the taxi and public buses to wear face masks, and failing to do so will result in denial of transportation services.

“We were released after filing out our personal files including ethnicity, religion, age, educational background, and occupation,” he said

One of the police officers whom approached said the government ordered residents to cover their faces when leaving home as the number of infections has increased in Addis Ababa since last week.

Ethiopia has so far reported a total of 263 cases of COVID-19, with 5 deaths and 108 recoveries out of total 41,689 tests.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Health stated that the door to door screening activities being carried out to control the spread of coronavirus has become effective in discovering new cases which are not linked with travel history abroad.

State Minister of Health Dr. Dereje said the door to door screening for COVID-19 has proved to be successful as the country has managed to discover more cases among health workers, drivers, and traders who had no travel history out of Ethiopia.

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