Human rights in Ethiopia

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Ethiopia

According to the U.S. Department of State's human rights report for 2004 and similar sources, the Ethiopian government's human rights "remained poor; although there were improvements, serious problems remained." The report listed numerous cases where police and security forces are said to have harassed, illegally detained, tortured, and/or killed individuals, who were members of opposition groups or accused of being insurgents. Thousands of suspects remained in detention without charge, and lengthy pretrial detention continued to be a problem. Prison conditions were poor. The government often ignores citizens' privacy rights and laws regarding search warrants. Although fewer journalists have been arrested, detained, or punished in 2004 than in previous years, the government nevertheless continues to restrict freedom of the press. The government limits freedom of assembly, particularly for members of opposition groups, and security forces have used excessive force to break up demonstrations. Violence and discrimination against women continue to be problems. Female genital mutilation is widespread, although efforts to curb the practice have had some effect. The economic and sexual exploitation of children continues, as does human trafficking. Forced labor, particularly among children, is a persistent problem. Low-level government interference with labor unions continues. Although the government generally respected the free exercise of religion, local authorities at times interfere with religious practice.[1] In order to improve Ethiopia's image, they hired US agencies to improve Ethiopia's image for $2.5 million.[2]

Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Criminal Code[edit]

Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation was introduced in 2009.[3] The overly broad provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation allow the authorities to criminalize the exercise of freedom of expression.[4] Amnesty International believes that at least 108 journalists and opposition members were arrested in 2011 primarily because of their legitimate and peaceful criticism of the government. The sheer numbers involved in this wave of arrests represents the most far-reaching crackdown on freedom of expression seen in many years in Ethiopia.[5]

From March 2011 to December 2011 at least 108 opposition party members and six journalists were arrested in Ethiopia for alleged involvement with various proscribed terrorist groups. The detainees had been charged with crimes under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and the Criminal Code. Many arrests in 2011 came in the days immediately after individuals publicly criticised the government, were involved in public calls for reform, applied for permission to hold demonstrations, or attempted to conduct investigative journalism in a region of Ethiopia to which the government severely restricts access.[5]

Amnesty International believes the individuals will not receive a fair trial and will be convicted for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Many of the detainees complained that they experienced torture and were forced to sign confessions or incriminating evidence. Almost all were denied access to lawyers and family at start of detention.[6]

The trials have become deeply politicized owing to the interest of senior government officials including the Prime Minister who declared in the national parliament that all the defendants are guilty. The Prime Minister has publicly threatened to carry out further arrests. In the first week of December 135 people were reported to be arrested in Oromia. Amnesty International calls on the United Nations, European Union, African Union, and governments to: Conduct systematic monitoring of the ongoing terrorism trials and the trials of members of the Oromo people political opposition arrested during 2011 and make findings public.[5]

Political freedom[edit]

Two journalists and four opposition politicians of the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party, and the Ethiopian National Democratic party, were arrested on 14 September and on 9 September 2011. They were accused of involvement with the Ginbot 7 group, a banned political party.[7]

Elections[edit]

According to Amnesty International citizens were pressed to leave opposition parties in May 2010 elections. Voters in Addis Ababa were reportedly threatened with the withdrawal of state assistance if they did not vote for the EPRDF. There was political violence: One candidate and several activists were killed. Registration as candidates was reportedly prevented by armed forces. Opposition parties said that their members were harassed, beaten and detained by the EPRDF in the build-up to the elections. Hundreds of people were allegedly arrested arbitrarily in the Oromia region, often on the grounds of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), an armed group. Detention without trial, torture and killings of Oromos were reported.[8]

The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) consolidated political control with 99.6 percent victory in the May 2010 parliamentary elections. According to Human Rights Watch the polls were preceded by months of intimidation of opposition party supporters. According to European election observers the election fell short of international standards. The government had a five-year strategy to systematically close down space for political dissent and independent criticism.[9]

Freedom of the press[edit]

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19 of the freedom of expression states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

According to Reporters Without Borders Ethiopia was 139 out of 178 in its latest worldwide index in January 2012.[10][11] h

Sexual violence[edit]

According to surveys in 2003 by the National Committee on Traditional Practices in Ethiopia, marriage by abduction accounts for 69% of the nation's marriages, with around 80% in the largest region, Oromiya, and as high as 92 percent in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region.[12][13]

According to the 2005 Ethiopian Demographic Health Survey, more than 74% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 have undergone some form of genital mutilation and cutting with more than 97% in the Somali region.[14]

Murder of "cursed" children[edit]

Among certain ethnic groups in Southern Ethiopia, babies and young children deemed "cursed" as Mingi are usually killed by drowning in rivers, pushing them off cliffs, or leaving them in the bush to starve or be eaten by wild animals.[15] The Karo officially banned Mingi in July 2012.[16]

Forced relocation[edit]

The Ethiopian government relocated forcibly ca 70,000 indigenous people from the Gambela Region between 2010 to January 2012 to new villages that lack adequate food, farmland, healthcare, and educational facilities. State security forces threatened, assaulted, and arbitrarily arrested villagers who resisted the transfers. From 2008 through January 2011, Ethiopia leased out at least 3.6 million hectares of land, an area the size of the Netherlands. An additional 2.1 million hectares of land is available through the federal government’s land bank for agricultural investment. In Gambella, 42 percent of the land is marketed for investors.[17]

Gambela Region has a population of 307,000, mainly indigenous Anuak and Nuer. Its richly fertile soil has attracted foreign and domestic investors who have leased large tracts of land at favourable prices.[18]

Incidents[edit]

It is claimed that in 2005 police massacred opposition protesters. Live gunfire from government forces was directed at protesters and bystanders.

According to a report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in June 2008, the Ethiopian army has committed widespread executions, torture and rape in Ogaden, as part of a counterinsurgency campaign.[19] The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded with a big press release stating that they performed an investigation during August and September of that year, which "found no trace of serious human rights violation let alone war crimes or crimes against humanity" during their response to the Abole oil field raid, but claimed the investigation found "a mass of evidence of further systematic abuses committed by the ONLF."[20] However, the U.S. State Department's annual report on human rights notes that Lisan Yohannes, a "former ruling party insider", led the investigation, an appointment which "opens questions about the independence of the investigation."[21]

On 6 January 2009, the Ethiopian parliament passed the "Charities and Societies Proclamation (NGO law)", which "criminalizes most human rights work in the country" according to HRW, who added that "the law is a direct rebuke to governments that assist Ethiopia and that had expressed concerns about the law's restrictions on freedom of association and expression."[22]

Historical situation[edit]

The following chart shows Ethiopia's ratings since 1972 in the Freedom in the World reports, published annually by Freedom House. A rating of 1 is "free"; 7, "not free".[23]1

International treaties[edit]

Ethiopia's stances on international human rights treaties are as follows:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

1.^ Note that the "Year" signifies the "Year covered". Therefore the information for the year marked 2008 is from the report published in 2009, and so on.
2.^ As of January 1.
3.^ The 1982 report covers the year 1981 and the first half of 1982, and the following 1984 report covers the second half of 1982 and the whole of 1983. In the interest of simplicity, these two aberrant "year and a half" reports have been split into three year long reports through interpolation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 2004 County Reports on Human Rights Practices: Africa: Ethiopia, US State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, published 28 February 2005 (accessed 8 July 2009)
  2. ^ "How a U.S. agency cleaned up Rwanda's genocide-stained image". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 6 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa: Ethiopia AI 27 October 2011
  4. ^ Ethiopia: Swedish journalists must be released immediately and unconditionally Amnesty International 21 December 2011
  5. ^ a b c Dismantling Dissent: Intensified crackdown on free speech in Ethiopia 16 December 2011
  6. ^ Amnesty International report on growing repression in Ethiopia Amnesty International 15 December 2011
  7. ^ Amnesty action letter Ethiopia 19 September 2011
  8. ^ Amnesty International's 2011 Annual Report on Ethiopia
  9. ^ Human Rights Watch World Report 2011 page 121
  10. ^ Ethiopia Reporters Without Borders January 2012
  11. ^ Ethiopia articles Reporters Without Borders
  12. ^ "Youth in Crisis: Coming of age in the 21st century". Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 23 February 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "UNICEF supports fight to end marriage by abduction in Ethiopia". UNICEF. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Battling an ancient tradition: Female genital mutilation in Ethiopia". UNICEF. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Is the tide turning against the killing of 'cursed' infants in Ethiopia? http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/05/world/africa/mingi-ethiopia/index.html?hpt=hp_c2
  16. ^ "Lale Labuko". nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  17. ^ Ethiopia: Forced Relocations Bring Hunger, Hardship Human Rights Watch (HRW) January 2012
  18. ^ Thousands 'forcibly relocated' in Ethiopia, says HRW report Guardian 16.1.2012
  19. ^ "Ethiopia: Army Commits Executions, Torture, and Rape in Ogaden". Human Rights Watch. 2008-06-12. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  20. ^ "Human Rights Watch: Flawed Methodology, Unsubstantiated Allegations", Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (accessed 17 March 2009)
  21. ^ "2008 Human Rights Reports: Ethiopia", Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US State Department (accessed 8 July 2009)
  22. ^ "Ethiopia: New Law Ratchets up Repression", Human Rights Watch website (accessed 20 March 2009)
  23. ^ Freedom House (2012). "Country ratings and status, FIW 1973-2012" (XLS). Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  24. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 1. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Paris, 9 December 1948". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  25. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 2. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. New York, 7 March 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  26. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 3. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  27. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 4. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  28. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 5. Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  29. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 6. Convention on the non-applicability of statutory limitations to war crimes and crimes against humanity. New York, 26 November 1968". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  30. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 7. International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. New York, 30 November 1973". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  31. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 8. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. New York, 18 December 1979". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  32. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 9. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. New York, 10 December 1984". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  33. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11. Convention on the Rights of the Child. New York, 20 November 1989". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  34. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 12. Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. New York, 15 December 1989". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  35. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 13. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. New York, 18 December 1990". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  36. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 8b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. New York, 6 October 1999". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  37. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. New York, 25 May 2000". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  38. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11c. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. New York, 25 May 2000". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  39. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 15. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York, 13 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  40. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 15a. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York, 13 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  41. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 16. International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. New York, 20 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  42. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 3a. Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. New York, 10 December 2008". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  43. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11d. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure . New York, 19 December 2011. New York, 10 December 2008". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 

External links[edit]