WATCH: Rights group says Ethiopia tortures ethnic Somalis at secret jail

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Suspected members of a separatist group in Ethiopia’s Somali region are being tortured, raped and starved at a clandestine prison, Human Rights Watch alleged.

The New York-based watchdog called for a thorough investigation by the Ethiopian government into the allegations concerning suspected members of the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) at the prison in the south eastern region.

Rights groups have often accused Ethiopian authorities and security forces of outright abuse, particularly against rebel groups that have targeted the one-party rule of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Since taking office in April, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has sought to quell these insurgencies and address rights violations.

Last month, he publicly acknowledged that security services carried out torture, describing it as a act of “terrorism”.

He has also supported legislation to decriminalise armed groups such as the ONLF.

Attacks by the ONLF have gradually reduced since Ethiopia launched a crackdown a decade ago after the rebels killed 77 at a Chinese oil venture in 2007.

Last year the group’s commander Abdikarim Muse was handed over to Ethiopia by Somalia, which was holding him.

HRW said the documented abuses occurred at a detention facility – known as “Jail Ogaden” – between 2011 and this year, adding that most people brought to the facility were never formally charged.

Somali region is Ethiopia’s second-largest, bordering, Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia, and is one of the country’s most volatile areas.