SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: November 17, 2021

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Addis Ababa University

Region & Country:Eastern Africa | Ethiopia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 17, 2021, it was reported that Ethiopian state authorities had arrested Addis Ababa University law professor, Assefa Fiseha, amidst a state of emergency.

An internationally known expert on federalism and constitutional law, Fiseha is one of 1,000 people, predominantly ethnic Tigrayans, who were arrested since the government enacted a state of emergency in early November.

As of March 17, 2022, Scholars at Risk (SAR) has not found information indicating Fiseha’s whereabouts or whether he has been charged.

SAR is concerned by the arrest of a scholar, apparently as part of a government’s state of emergency measures. While State authorities have a right to maintain order and respond to legitimate security concerns, such actions must comply with States’ human rights obligations, including those relating to freedom of association, due process, and academic freedom, which are protected by international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ethiopia is a party. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and undermine democratic society generally.