21 April 2018

Ethiopia Will Continue to Build Democracy, Human Rights

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(File photo).

The American Congress has recently passed a resolution, code named H. RES.128 on the 115th meeting in view of "supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia."

Given the fact that the resolution admits that Ethiopia is a partner to the US in its preamble section, which states "Whereas the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has been an ally of the United States and a partner in the War on Terrorism, as well as a contributor to international peacekeeping. There is a need to comment on some of the views from the resolution.

If the US congress admits that Ethiopia is a partner, why did IT choose to come up with this resolution? Without doubt, Ethiopia is a partner and not a trusteeship territory of the US. Besides, as a sovereign country and as a full member of the UN and AU, Ethiopia retains its own sovereign rights to deal with its own problems through its own constitutionally guaranteed mechanisms.

When it comes to human rights, the Ethiopian constitution devoted more than 15 articles to the legal recognition and enforcement of human rights. Besides, the core value of all the democratic institutions in the country including Human Rights Commission, Office of the Ombudsman, Constitutional Inquiry Commission. Nonetheless, a number of local NGOs and civil society organizations are also currently working on the practical implementation of constitutionally guaranteed rights.

The resolution refers to "state-sponsored violence" and at no point in the resolution is a reference mentioned about armed violence, obstruction of transport networks, forced shutdown of schools, shops and other service providing institutions, burning down public clinics, factories and farms is mentioned. It is open truth that the government is constitutionally obliged to safeguard the safety and peace of its citizens. This is a duty of any state whatsoever.

Most of the facts and figures that were mentioned in the resolution have never been verified either from authentic source or Ethiopian government sources. The congress could have verified all facts and authenticity of figures and incidents instead of referring to institutions that are already biased against this nation.

Ethiopia is considered as the only country that has promulgated Anti- Terrorism Law though it is well known that it benchmarked similar laws of countries that suffered the menaces of terrorism. The law in itself has been used by many countries to establish a legal deterrence on terrorist activities from which they are suffering to date.

The resolution "calls on the Secretary of State to conduct a review of security assistance to Ethiopia in light of recent developments and to improve transparency with respect to the purposes of such assistance to the people of Ethiopia; calls on the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to immediately lead efforts to develop a comprehensive strategy to support improved democracy and governance in Ethiopia;"

In terms of development partnership and cooperation in the areas of security and peace, Ethiopia and the US have had long years of partnership and the USAID has been supporting the development programs of this country over several decades. Particularly, the USAID has been able to accomplish its duties as a partner in various development programs of Ethiopia because the government has facilitated towards smooth operational atmosphere for the Agency.

The resolution did not consider the positive and constructive measures taken by the government and the ruling party in conducting constructive dialogues with the opposition parties which is has continued. The release of thousands of prisoners who could have been prosecuted before the court of law, the official promises and actions being taken by the new prime minister of Ethiopia in restoring peace in the country could have been appreciated by the resolution.

Ethiopia is a trusted partner for the US and prior to passing such a resolution the congress could have thoroughly consulted with the representatives of the Ethiopian government.

Nonetheless, as a sovereign country Ethiopia is already active not only in peaceful resolution of some sporadic conflicts but is also sacrificing her own sons and daughters in a peace keeping mission applauded by the rest of the world.

The ruling party and the government of Ethiopia are on a steering wheel of a political momentum with reforms aimed at increasing transparency and widening the country's democratic space and the resolution should have appreciated the optimism and the hope that the entire population had expressed in building democracy in Ethiopia.

Given the long-standing relations between the two countries, Ethiopia has always paid due respect and appreciation to the support that was provided by the US government in various sectors of development and relief programs.

It is hoped and expected that the long standing relations between the two countries will not in any manner be tarnished because there are far more overarching regional responsibilities that require mutual cooperation between the two countries.

Going forward, for the purpose of the mutual benefits of the two countries, the US congress can also focus on how the relationship between the two countries can flourish with mutual respect for the sovereignty of the country and its peoples.

Ethiopia has a self-rectifying government system in which the government continues to assess its achievements and weak points in the most democratic way that could set an example for the rest of Africa. It is true that Ethiopia may have some shortfalls in the promotion of human rights but these shortfalls are already known to the peoples and government of Ethiopia. The country is already deploying all its institutions and the legal system to ascertain democracy and human rights and was not waiting for any recommendation or resolution from elsewhere.

When it comes to the maintenance of human rights in Ethiopia, the issue should not be defined only in a narrow sense of the concept of human rights. Ethiopia is conducting multi-faceted programs in modernizing its justice system and the corresponding institutions that cater to human rights.

There is a close relationship between Ethiopia's efforts to ascertain human rights and a nationwide struggle against poverty with all its forms. This boils down to the fact that the country is adhering to the provisions of its own constitution that the political system is striving to uphold.

In terms of the promotion of good governance, Ethiopia has already identified the need for good governed in the country several years back and it is well known to the US congress that the country has already devised various strategies and action plans that are currently being implemented.

The government of Ethiopia and the House of Peoples Representatives are working together in reviewing and implementing recommendations from the country's Human Rights Commission. Already, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is in the process of delivering a report to the HPR on its findings on any possible human rights violation during the conflict that flared up in the border areas between Oromia and Ethiopia Somali Regions. This indicates that the country has a self-checking political system at its disposal and will ask for recommendations from partners like the US congress if the need arises.

Ethiopia is already engaged in various prison reform programs in which a top priority is given to ensuring the civil and political human rights of citizens who are sentenced by courts for violating the laws of the country.

Ethiopia unilaterally commits itself to the promotion of human rights and democracy because it is a matter of survival for the nation.

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