Ethiopia: German NGO Quits Ethiopia in Protest Against 'Restrictions On Civil Rights and Freedom of Speech'

Paris — A German non-governmental organisation (NGO) said Thursday it is pulling out of Ethiopia in protest against Ethiopia's controversial 2009 civil society and charity law (CSO), which has put growing restrictions on its activities.

The Heinrich Boll Foundation, named after the German Nobel Prize winner for Literature, said in a statement that the "closure of the office in Ethiopia is a sign of protest by the foundation against the ongoing restrictions on civil rights and freedom of speech."

The German NGO, which aims to promote democracy, gender equality and sustainable development, alleged that it has become impossible for the organization to carryout its work under the existing circumstances in Ethiopia.

The foundation's country director, Patrick Berg, said the organization made a failed appeal to the Ethiopian government through the offices of German Development minister, Dirk Niebel.

"We realized that we cannot pursue our mission and we can no longer support our local partners of several years," he told German Radio DW.

Last month Ethiopia's Charities and Societies Agency (CSoA), said that it has revoked the licenses of 10 Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

The agency has also warned over 400 organizations that it says are operating against rules and regulations of the country and is currently investigating 17 organizations.

Human rights and civil society groups condemn Ethiopia's "NGO law" saying it curtails the activities of domestic and foreign non-governmental organizations and human rights groups operating in the country.

According to the NGOs, the law, restricts the freedoms of press, expression and assembly.

Despite the unpopular law, the Charities and Societies Agency says it is registering hundreds of new associations and charities.

Currently there are nearly 3,000 international civil society grounps, NGOs and charities operating in Ethiopia.

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