Inclusive national dialogue and accountability for rights violations can heal Ethiopia from a culture of impunity

DuniaMekonnenTegegnAuthor: Dunia Mekonnen Tegegn
Human Rights Lawyer and Gender equality advocate

On 3 November 2020, conflict broke out between the Tigray People Liberation Front and Ethiopia’s National Defense Forces when the Tigray People Liberation Front assaulted the Northern command. Due to the conflict in Ethiopia, women and girls continue to bear the brunt of the cruel and inhuman acts committed by all parties involved in the conflict for the last 17 months. Many have lost their lives, suffered sexual violence, been displaced, and starved. Young girls, women living with disability, older women, and refugee women have been the target of brutal sexual violence. These crimes are horrific in nature as they represent the level of vengeance and humiliation pursued by actors to the conflict. Reports have highlighted the extent of these violations and implicated all sides to the conflict in war crimes and crimes against humanity.     Read the rest of this entry »


Marital rape as a human rights violation of women in Ethiopia: a case study of Alumni association of the faculty of law of Addis Ababa University and Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA)

Kebkab-Sirgew-GelawAuthor: Kebkab Sirgew Gelaw
International Human Rights Lawyer

The concept of rape of a woman by her husband in marriage was not a transgression at all because a man was allowed to treat ‘his chattel as he deemed appropriate’; thus, women who were forced to have sex in their marriage did not even have the option of seeking criminal prosecution.[1] The first marital rape case to reach the US court system took place in 1978 in New Jersey, when Daniel Morrison was found guilty of raping his estranged wife. Six months later, in Oregon, John Rideout became the first husband charged with rape while living with his wife.[2]  Rideout was acquitted and brought attention to the concept that rape can exist within the context of marriage.

Many states in the US including Minnesota at that time defended forced sexual intercourse committed by a man against a woman and not his wife; though there have been subsequent prosecutions of marital rape, but in general, the cases were charged to win, primary because the question of consent is clouded by societal beliefs about marriage.[3]

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Reevaluating AGOA as a Preferential Scheme and the Path to Follow: From Ethiopia’s Perspective

Meaza-Haddis-GebeyehuAuthor: Meaza Haddis Gebeyehu
Lecturer, Hawassa University, School of Law

One of the positive impacts of economic globalization is the shift of most, although not all, international trade relations into a rule-based, secure and institutionalized system instead of an arbitrary one. WTO and modern-time RTAs are the results of a long-term process since the 1940s which can be taken as a major step for the systematic regulation of international trade as a continuation of the structure from GATT 1947.

Eight rounds of negotiations took place during the GATT 1947 regime[1] during which the economic interests of most developing and least developed countries were underrepresented or totally ignored as the major parties to the negotiations were developed nations. Hence, developing and LDCs are left with the only choice of complying with the already established rules if they wish to be integrated into the multilateral system.

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To be a healthy democratic state, Ethiopia needs Stability through Peace and Security, Inclusive Development, and Good Governance.

Henok-KebedeAuthor: Henok Kebede
Lecturer, School of Law at Hawassa University, Ethiopia

Ethiopia is at a crossroads. Despite recorded double-digit economic growth for more than a decade, the arguably slight opening of the political space and the increasing awareness of citizens about their rights and duties, the absence of a clear path to democracy through an institutionally designed system put Ethiopia at the crossroad. Though Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pledged to reform Ethiopia’s authoritarian state, recently, Ethiopia is going through a hysterical period of political uncertainties whereby one cannot easily venture where the country is heading. Some suggested that Ethiopia is on the right track to democracy, and Abiy Ahmed is playing the dominant role. Others reject the idea that Ethiopia is getting into democracy, saying the reform government is just as undemocratic as its predecessors; it is instead an ‘old wine in a new bottle’.   

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Time to consider decriminalising homosexuality in Ethiopia

Rehim-Baharu-ElalaAuthor: Rehim Baharu Elala
Intern, Ethiopian Community Development Council

LGBT data in Ethiopia

Ethiopia revised its Criminal Code in 2004 and criminalised homosexual or indecent acts both between men and women,  with those convicted facing terms of imprisonment.[1] Same-sex acts will be punished with imprisonment of not less than a year, or in ‘grave’ cases, rigorous imprisonment of up to 15 years.[2] The justifications for criminalising the acts are mostly associated with the strict societal norms and religion.

There is no study or research conducted to know the exact number of LGBTQ people in Ethiopia. I interviewed two members of the LGBTQ in Ethiopia who are working in legal and health professions when I was writing a Seminar Paper for my LGBTQ Health Law and Policy class.[3] My informants told me that the estimate data shows that there are around 50,000-60,000 people who identify themselves as LGBTQ in the capital Addis Ababa alone.[4] They also stated that the major source of the anti-gay sentiment originates from the religious authorities.[5] This is because homosexuals are always portrayed in a dangerous manner by the religious institutions as child abusers and destroyers of Ethiopian values.[6] An Ethiopian law professor states the influence of religious groups in the following words:

“There is complete silence around LGBT experiences because there is no forum for stories about the violence meted out by the state and family members on a day-to-day basis… My biggest fear is that these religious organisations are monopolising the conversation and perpetuating a fear that is becoming impossible to combat.”[7]

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Addis Ababa’s City Sovereignty threatened by the new Draft Criminal Procedure and Evidence Law of Ethiopia

Author: Marew Abebe
Lecturer of Federalism at Debark University, Debark, Ethiopia

This is a commentary on Article 25(3) of the Draft Criminal Procedure and Evidence Law (the Draft Law), which the Attorney General of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia distributed to stakeholders to solicit feedback. Article 25(3) of the Draft Law empowers courts of the state of Oromia (one of the ten regional states of Ethiopia) to exercise jurisdiction over some criminal matters that arise in one of the two self-administered city governments of Ethiopia, the capital city of the country Addis Ababa. This commentary explores whether Article 25(3) of the Draft Law is (in)compatible with the Ethiopian Federal Constitution, and concludes that granting jurisdiction to the courts of the state of Oromia over some cases arising in Addis Ababa is unconstitutional. The provision, if not omitted from the final version of the Draft Law, will pose great challenges to the Ethiopian federation.

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Making the right to vote of IDPs a reality: Lessons from Ethiopia

omotunde-enigbokan-Enguday-Meskele-AshineAuthors: Enguday Meskele Ashine & Omotunde Enigbokan

Ethiopia held its national election on 21 June 2021. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) participated in the national election by casting their votes at their place of displacement for their respective constituency of origin through absentee ballot procedure. In certain areas, the government of Ethiopia took special measures such as providing logistic and security safeguard in order to enable IDPs to cast their vote.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) played a pivotal role in ensuring that IDPs participated in the national election, through engaging civic societies that advocated for the voting rights of IDPs.  Furthermore, the EHRC prepared the Human Rights Agenda for Election 2021. This Agenda ‘calls upon political parties to address human rights protection of vulnerable groups including IDPs in their manifesto.’ In addition, the Commission advocated for electoral participation of IDPs by disseminating explanatory materials on IDPs and election, by conducting election monitoring focusing on IDPs’ participation in the national election and by conducting stakeholder’s discussions highlighting the significance of IDPs’ inclusion in the national election.’

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The Role of ICT in Promoting the Rule of Law in Ethiopia: The Impact of Social Media

Henok-KebedeAuthor: Henok Kebede
Lecturer, School of Law at Hawassa University, Ethiopia

The Role of ICT in Promoting the Rule of Law

Various scholars have defined the phrase from different perspectives, therefore, defining rule of law in a universally agreeable manner is not an easy task. The most known definition is the one provided by Aristotle: Rule of law is an absence of rule of man. But this definition is very general with the need for elaboration. A more elaborated, perhaps understandable, definition of rule of law is by Lord Bingham, essentially said that “…all persons and authorities within the state, whether public or private, should be bound by and entitled to the benefit of laws publicly and prospectively promulgated and publicly administered in the courts

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The ‘forgotten tribe’: Persons with disabilities in Ethiopia and the State’s response to COVID-19

Author: Dagnachew B. Wakene
Institute for International and Comparative Law (ICLA), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

A person with visual impairment residing in Dire Dawa – Ethiopia’s second largest city in the Eastern part of the country – was recently reported to have set himself on fire in broad daylight and in public, apparently attempting to commit suicide. His reason, as later affirmed by his neighbors and acquaintances, was that he was entirely segregated, deserted by society, including friends who, pre-COVID-19, would assist him as his guides, give him a hand to run errands and go out-and-about his daily routines. Now, owing to the COVID-19 era mantra of ‘social distancing’, no one would approach the blind man altogether, hence instilling in him a feeling of despair, abandonment, lack of self-worth, so much so that he no longer saw the need to continue living thus decided to set himself alight right there on the streets of Dire Dawa. He was rushed to the hospital afterwards, but only in vain. The man died a few days later while on treatment.

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The Global Compact on Refugees: A breakthrough opportunity in addressing the protracted refugee crises in East Africa

Author: Juliet Nyamao
Human Rights Attorney, Kenyan Bar

In recent years, the world has witnessed an explosive increase in the number of refugees and internally displaced persons. The upsurge in forced displacement has increased the demand for humanitarian assistance and strained the limited resources of host nations, majority of which are developing economies. The resulting economic strain compelled the international community to develop sustainable mechanisms for protecting refugees and displaced persons in alignment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Read the rest of this entry »