April 25, 2018
(OiPlatform): The government of Ethiopia has not issued a strong denial of the US State Department Human Rights Report. The report has detailed numerous serious violations of fundamental human rights in the country. It underlined that the country’s security forces have acted with absolute impunity.
In the past, the country used to be vicious in its response to State Department’s Human Rights report. In 2009, the response called the report “lies and hypocrisy.” The responses were basically saying that nothing in the human rights report were true and all are pure fabrications. In 2013, the supporters of the Ethiopian government also called that year’s report “flawed” and “recycled.”
As of the writing of this report, the Ethiopian government under the new Prime Minister has not challenged this year’s report head-on. It could be true that they might have opted to use diplomatic channels.
According to some analysts, “probably the new Ethiopian government does not want to engage or provoke the current US Administration, which is very tough and unpredictable to deal with.”
Whatever the reason behind the lack of ‘vicious denial’ like the denials of previous years, it would not be a wild speculation to suggest that the new leadership of the country might be considering a new path both in dealing with the impacts of the report on Ethiopia’s regional as well as on international standing. Some also think that addressing the country’s human rights issues is the only acceptable way of responding to the report. Others suggest that it is possible that the Ethiopian government is working on a rebuttal.
The US State Department has accused Ethiopia of serious violations of human rights
April 20, 2018
(OiPlatform): The United States State Department report has accused Ethiopia of serious violations of human rights. According to the report, “arbitrary deprivation of life, disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by security forces; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention by security forces; denial of a fair public trial; infringement of privacy rights; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, internet, assembly, association, and movement are some of the most significant human rights issues in the country. The report underlines that human rights violators act with impunity: “The government generally did not take steps to prosecute or otherwise punish officials who committed human rights abuses…. Impunity was a problem; there was an extremely limited number of prosecutions of security force members or officials for human rights abuses during the year.”
The Department had also accused Ethiopia of similar violations in its report published in March 2017. In that report, it was indicated that Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other unlawful or politically motivated killings, disappearance, torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention, denial of fair public trial, arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, freedom of speech and press, freedom of movement, internally displaced persons, protection of refugees, and stateless persons, corruption and lack of transparency in government etc were some of the major problems in the country.
On April 10, 2018, the US Congress passed a resolution (Resolution 128) without objections calling for respect for human rights, rule of law and democracy in Ethiopia. In summary, the resolution calls for “lifting of the state of emergency; ending the use of excessive force by security forces; investigating the killings and excessive use of force that took place as a result of protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions; releasing dissidents, activists, and journalists who have been imprisoned for exercising constitutional rights;…” The resolution also calls on the government “to repeal proclamations that can be used to harass or prohibit funding for organizations that investigate human rights violations, engage in peaceful political dissent, or advocate for greater political freedoms; prohibit those displaced from their land from seeking judicial redress; permit the detention of peaceful protesters and political opponents who legally exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association; and limit peaceful nonprofit operations in Ethiopia.” The resolution also urges: “(1) protesters in Ethiopia to refrain from violence and from encouragement or acceptance of violence in demonstrations, and (2) all armed factions to cease their conflict with the Ethiopian government and engage in peaceful negotiations.”
Human Rights groups have been highlighting the dire human rights conditions in Ethiopia. In its 2017/2018 report Amnesty International found out that Torture and other ill-treatment, Arbitrary arrests and detentions, Unfair trials, restriction on Freedom of expression, Extrajudicial executions, Impunity of the police and army.
Human Rights Watch also, said, the brutality of security forces, forced displacement, lack of freedom of expression and association, the prevalence of torture and arbitrary detention, are some of the major problems that Ethiopians face in the hand of their own government.
Ethiopia has just elected a new prime minister who is from Oromo, the hotbed of the protests in the past three years. The new prime minister promised change. On April 19, 2018, the prime minister nominated his new cabinet members who were confirmed by the parliament. Six ministers from the predecessor have kept their ministerial positions, even though some of them were moved to another department.