The UN Human Rights Council adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Ethiopia on September 19, 2014. On that date, Ethiopia was given 252 recommendations by the UN Human Rights Council member Statesto improve human rights infringements in the country, based on the general human rights situation assessment made to Ethiopia on May 2014 at UPR.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa welcomes the adoption of the outcome of the UPR on Ethiopia and appreciates the majority of the UN Human Rights Council member states’ recognition that one of their members, Ethiopia, has committed gross human rights abuses in its own country contrary to its responsibility to protect and promote human rights globally. Most of the Recommendations the Ethiopian Government received on September 19, 2014 were similar to the 2009 recommendations that were given to the same country during the first round of UPR human rights situation assessment in Ethiopia. This proves that the human rights situation in Ethiopia continues to deteriorate.
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa also welcomes the Ethiopian government for its courage of admitting its wrongdoings and acknowledged most of the recommendations and promise to work further for their improvements. The HRLHA looks forward the Government of Ethiopia to shows its commitment to fulfil its promises, and not to put them aside until the next UPR comes in four years (2019)
However, the government of Ethiopia failed again to accept the recommendations not to use the anti-terrorism proclamation it adopted in 2009 to suppress fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly and demonstrations. The country also rejected the recommendation of the member states to permit a special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association to travel to Ethiopia to advise the Government.
Today, thousands of people are languishing in prison because they formed their own political organizations or supported different political groups other than EPRDF. Thousands were indiscriminately brutalized in Oromia, Ogadenia, Gambela, Benshangul and other regions because they demanded their fundamental rights to peaceful assembly, demonstration and expression. These and other human rights atrocities in Ethiopia were reported by national and international human rights organizations, and international mass media, including foreign governments and NGOs. The Government of Ethiopia has repeatedly denied all these credible reports and continued with its systematic ethnic cleansing.
The HRLHA appreciates the UN Human Rights Council members who have provided valuable recommendations that have exposed the atrocity of the Ethiopian Government against defenceless civilians and the HRLHA urges them to put pressure on the government of Ethiopia to accept those recommendations it has rejected and put them into practice.
Finally, the HRLHA strongly supports the recommendations made by UN Human Rights Council member states and urges the Ethiopian Government to reverse its rejection of some recommendations, including:
- Ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC),
- Ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, OPCAT,
- Permitting the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association to travel to Ethiopia to advise the Government;
- Improving conditions in detention facilities by training personnel to investigate and prosecute all alleged cases of torture, and ratify OPCAT,
- Repealing the Charities and Societies Proclamation in order to promote the development of an independent civil society “Allowing Ethiopia’s population to operate freely”
- Removing vague provisions in the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation that can be used to criminalize the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and association and ensure that criminal prosecutions do not limit the freedom of expression of civil society, opposition politicians and independent media ;
and use this opportunity to improve its human rights record.
Minelik Alemu Getahun, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Ethiopia had accepted 188 out of the 252 recommendations received during its Universal Periodic Review and that its high-level commitment to the process would expedite their implementation, in collaboration with civil society. Significant progress had been made in consolidating human rights and good governance and Ethiopia was committed to build on the remarkable achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The recommendation to review, amend and repeal the Charities and Societies Proclamation could not be accepted because it aimed at ensuring the right to freedom of association. Recommendations pertaining to the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation were not acceptable as this law was not used to target political opposition.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Ethiopia
MINELIK ALEMU GETAHUN, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Ethiopia had accepted 188 out of the 252 recommendations received during its Universal Periodic Review and said that its high-level commitment to the process would expedite their implementation. The Ministry of Justice had the lead role in the implementation of the national human rights action plan and in the implementation of recommendations from human rights bodies. The process would be further complemented by the participation of grassroots organizations and civil society. The Government was determined to sustain its efforts to provide continuing human rights education for law enforcement officials and to strengthen judicial review. Significant progress had been made in consolidating human rights and good governance and Ethiopia was committed to build on the remarkable achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.Some of the recommendations could not be accepted either because they were not based on objective assessment or due to lack of capacity for implementation. The recommendation to review, amend and repeal the Charities and Societies Proclamation could not be accepted because it aimed at ensuring the right to freedom of association and provided a predictable and transparent system for the establishment, registration and regulation of such organizations and a conducive environment for the growth of grass root advocacy, development and humanitarian civil society groups. Recommendations pertaining to the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation were not acceptable because the law was aimed at fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and was not used to target political opposition. Ethiopia also rejected the recommendation concerning the freedom of the mass media and access to information and said it would consider inviting Special Procedures on a case-by-case basis. –
International Centre against Censorship noted the acceptance by Ethiopia of recommendations to fully implement freedom of expression and association. However, this apparent openness was contrary to the reality on the ground.
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project said that Ethiopia’s engagement with the Universal Periodic Review process had to be understood in the context of the deteriorating human rights situation. Just yesterday, a group of United Nations human rights experts urged Ethiopia to stop using anti-terrorism laws to repress freedom of expression.
United Nations Watch was concerned about the human rights situation in the country. It was disturbed that many important Universal Periodic Review recommendations had been rejected, including on freedom of assembly and expression. There had been numerous reports of journalists charged with false terrorism offences.
Organisation pour la Communication en Afrique et de Promotion de la Cooperaiton Economique Internationale paid tribute to that fact that Ethiopia had created more than 2.6 million jobs over the past two years. It was seriously concerned about the prevalence of female genital mutilation, early marriage and violence against women in the country.
Amnesty International said that with elections coming up, urgent and concrete steps were required. Amnesty International was deeply concerned about Ethiopia’s rejection of key recommendations on freedom of expression and association, relevant to the participation in elections. The Council’s sustained attention was required.
CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation said that the draconian restrictions on freedom of expression and association still stood in Ethiopia and this limit on fundamental liberties would seriously undermine the holding of free and democratic elections in 2015.
Human Rights Watch welcomed the human rights-based commitment to development and was increasingly concerned about the human rights situation in Ethiopia. The Government refused to respond to and investigate allegations of worst human rights violations committed by its security forces, including torture and ill-treatment.
Recontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l’homme noted the efforts to ensure genuine respect for women’s rights and seriously deplored the deterioration in freedom of expression and press freedoms and said it was vital to put an end to the monopoly and control of the press.
MINELIK ALEMU GETAHUN, Permanent Representatives of Ethiopia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said he found some of the language used by non-governmental organizations deplorable and even outrageous. Their allegations of Government measures against civil society were unfounded and based on isolated events. The Government was firmly committed to the full protection of the democratic rights of all its citizens, particularly against the use of torture. Speaking of the general elections to be held in Ethiopia in May 2015, Mr. Getahun stressed that the Government would ensure that they complied with international democratic standards, and that they would be conducted in a peaceful manner, in order to provide all citizens with the opportunity to freely express their will. The Government was committed to upholding the principles of good governance and democracy, as well as to the engagement with civil society, particularly in the area of economic growth.Of the 252 recommendations received, Ethiopia accepted 188 and took note of 64.The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Ethiopia. – See more at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
 UPR Info’s 2RP (responses to recommendations), List of all recommendations made to Ethiopia and its responses to them, http://www.upr-info.org/en/review/Ethiopia/Session-19—April-2014/UPR-Info%E2%80%99s-2RP-%28responses-to-recommendations%29#top
UPR Info’s 2RP (responses to recommendations),List of all recommendations made to Ethiopia and its responses, http://www.upr-info.org/en/review/Ethiopia/Session-06—November-2009/UPR-Info%E2%80%99s-2RP-%28responses-to-recommendations%29#top