The British government has axed most of its aid programme to the Ethiopian police force, amidst increasing evidence of torture, rape and murder by the government, reported The Telegraph.
The decision comes soon after a report by Amnesty International which said that thousands of ethnic Oromos were being “ruthlessly targeted by the state”.
British ministers decided to suspend most of the £27mn scheme, which was intended to help Ethiopian police “interact with communities on local safety”, help women access the justice system and improve criminal investigations.
Over £1bn in aid, including around £70 million for “governance and security” projects has already been given to the Ethiopian government over the past three years.
The Department for International Development said the project was cancelled because it did not represent “value for money” and because of “risk” in getting it delivered on time and insisted that suspension of the aid was entirely unrelated to the allegations of human rights abuses, saying its decision pre-dated the Amnesty International report.
The Telegraph said that earlier this year an internal, annual government assessment of the aid programme warned it posed a “high” risk to human rights, upgrading it from medium.
“The underlying assumption of GoE’s commitment to reform in the security sector is sensitive and subject to a range of factors (e.g. terrorist attacks inside Ethiopia). In light of this, we propose elevating the risk to ‘high’,” the document reportedly said, before being deleted from the government website, according to the paper.
A DfID spokesman said: “DFID has suspended major activities under the Community Safety and Justice programme because of concerns about risk and value for money. We are updating the website to reflect programme changes.”