Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on Wednesday said his government will release all its political prisoners and shutdown its detention centre where inmates were allegedly tortured into making confessions. Charges against those facing trial will be dropped, the prime minister added.

The development will “widen the democratic space for all”, the prime minister told reporters.

Human rights groups have accused the administration of resorting to mass arrests and detention to suppress opposition. The government detained them after they held nationwide protests to demand political and economic reforms.

While the total number of people detained has not been specified, thousands have been taken into custody since 2015, the BBC reported. Human Rights Watch had alleged that Maekelawi, a detention facility in Addis Ababa, was used to conduct illegal interrogation methods in 2013.