The Ethioian Human Rights Commission, other Ethiopian Democratic Institutions and Civil Society Representatives hold discussion with the Finnish Delegations
15 Jan 2014
In a bide to acquire a first-hand knowledge on Ethiopia’s current human rights situation the Finnish Delegations had made a half-day discussion with some of the Ethiopian democratic institutions, including, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission; and representative of civil society organizations at the meeting hall of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission on January 15, 2014.
On the occasion; Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Right Commission, Ambassador Teruneh Zena, has briefed the delegation which consisted of the Finish Ambassador to Ethiopia, representatives of Finish parliament, communication officers, business people, university students and people from the Finish media; on the human right activities undertaking by the Commission.
The Chief Commissioner pointed out that Ethiopia once known as an epicenter of famine, war and all kinds of human misery has of late been able to register the fastest non-oil dependent economic growth. He added that the country has not only brought the number of citizens who were under absolute poverty which were 45% some 10 years ago to 27% today; but also been successful in school enrolment of all children of the country irrespective of gender and location.
Concerning Ethiopia’s international obligations; the Chief Commissioner has told the delegation that Ethiopia has ratified and made an integral part of the national law the Universal Human rights instruments. All the same; he also made a point that there have also been human rights challenges such as disproportionate use of force by the security forces, delays in bringing the suspect to the court and some human right abuses in some correctional centers. However; to live up to such challenges and more; the government has of late come up with a National Human Right Action plan which was launched last October at the UNECA hall; and all governmental organs are settling to inter the first phase of implementing their respective action plan, the Chief Commissioner added.
As to his Commission; the Chief Commissioner disclosed that the Commission has also been setting up national human right forums across the country that comprise governmental and non-governmental bodies in order to secure full participation of the people in the exercise; respect and protection of human rights in the country.
Deputy commissioner of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission; Ato Wodo Eto, on his part noting the government’s commitment in the fight against corruption by establishing the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission said that his Commission has been extensively conducting anti-corruption programs aiming at raising public awareness through series of training of trainers (ToT), electronics media and different publications.
In an effort to enhance its programs; the Deputy Commissioner, recalling Ethiopia’s ratification of international convention against corruption and now is currently a full fledged member of East African Anti- Corruption Authority; has noted that other than establishing anti-corruption clubs in schools and universities its Commission has also jointly working with religious institutions, women’s associations, youth associations, liaisons, enterprises and the media. He also noted that in the endeavor to bring the practice of corruption to a negligible state; his Commission has been investigating corrupt practices after having identified priority areas such as: taxation, land, public procurements and the like.
Representative of the civil society; Dr. Bogalech Gebre, also on the occasion said that the civil society organizations have been working on three basic areas such as: culture, gender and human right. According to Dr. Bogalech, harmful traditional practices has been slashing down since 1999 as a result of the active engagments of NGOs. She added that since a good number of women have not yet been aware of their rights particularly with regard to domestic violence; the priority area for civil society organization was therefore, to translate the national law in vernaculars in order to get to grass roots.
Ato Gezahegn, who represents the Ethiopian Institute of Ombudsman on his part, has briefed the delegation on the activities undertaken by the Federal Ombudsman in conducting public awareness programs; on the duty of the civil servants and the rights of citizens to have their violated rights redressed as a result of administrative malfeasance. He also shared his office’s experiences in handling complaints.
Miss Sirpa Maenpaa ; Ambassador of Finland to Ethiopia on the occasion said that the Finnish delegation came to Ethiopia mainly to cross check the criticism and rumor about Ethiopia and to know the truth first hand.
Noting that the country needs to work on the National Human Right Action Plan; the Ambassador has appreciated Ethiopia’s effort in fighting down corruption. According to her, this will result in further economic growth of the country. She also noted that the country need to further work hard to create a society opposed to corruption and offered Finland’s best practice in this regard. She also disclosed the fact that the meeting is a warm-up as Finish prime-minister along with Finish business men will be visiting Ethiopia in the coming weeks.
The meeting was organized by the Finland Embassy and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.
Violence and other grave human rights Violations against Ethiopian migrants in Saudi Arabia
The Commission is currently working with relevant international and local organizations to help the victims as a result of the decision made by the Saudi Arabian Government.It is also monitoring the treatments and human rights situations of the returnees after their arrival in Ethiopia. The following is the letter written to the Human Rights Commission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia asking the same to take all the necessary steps to investigate the violations and call for redress.
The Human Rights Commission of
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
We understand that you are well aware of the illegal migrants’ situations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are, therefore, writing to you to ask your esteemed organization to take all the necessary steps to undertake a thorough investigation and redress the massive human rights violations targeted against Ethiopian migrants in Saudi Arabia. We are informed of the plight the alleged illegal migrants have been suffering as the result of recent action by the security forces of the kingdom which resulted in the death and incarceration of many thousands. It is no wonder that the majority of these allegedly illegal workers who have been facing the inhuman treatments and atrocities are mainly Ethiopians who were or have been duly serving the kingdom with or without commensurate remuneration.
While our Commission respects the sovereign rights of the kingdom to regulate the activities of migrant works in its territory, we fail to see the necessity of excessive use of force by the security forces to deal with them, including, the beatings, dragging of innocent civilians, the cruel killings, the mass imprisonment and the inhuman and degrading treatments of men, women and children in this twenty first century. The mistreatments and human rights violations of these helpless civilian is against universally accepted norms, and no custom, treaty, religion, constitution or human conscious can be used to justify it. We believe that there were quite ample proportional and human rights friendly measures the security forces could have resorted to arrest and deport these weak and bread-seeking civilians instead of treating them the way it was done as our sources revealed.
The mistreatments are more repulsive given the fact that it is committed in the heart of the nation which is in the forefront in advocating commendable religious norms in terms of treating all mankind with a sense of dignity and humanity as all are created equally by one creator. Nonetheless, it is to our dismay that Ethiopians are badly treated in the home of the holy prophet where Ethiopia was once the only welcoming country of refugee to all his followers sent to save their life and religion many centuries back.
This is, therefore, to kindly request your good office to cause or undertake proper and unbiased investigations on the death and mistreatments of all Ethiopians, among others, by both the security forces and civilians of the kingdom and make the appropriate redress.
The Royal Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Official Launching and consultative workshop is held on the first Human Rights Action Plan by the Ethiopian Government
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of justice has organized two days (25-26 Oct 2013) launching and consultative national workshop on the country’s first Human Rights Action Plan at the UN Conference Center in Addis Ababa. This workshop is a follow-up undertaking in an effort to the effective and practical implementation of the action plan across the country.
The two days consultative workshop was uniquely marked by the presence of his Excellency Hailemariam Dessalegn, the prime minister of Ethiopia and his Excellency Muktar Kedier, the Coordinator, Good Governance and Reform Cluster with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister and Civil service minister. Other high level participants includes, Speaker of the House, the minister of justice, the president of the Federal Supreme court, key and high level federal and regional government authorities, representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, heads of political parties and religious leaders, Ambassadors of various countries, representatives of the UN and other International Organizations and representatives of medias, among others.
In his remark, his Excellency Hailemariam Dessalegn stated that the government is working on human rights issues by providing the promotion and protection of rights as the center of the country’s reconstruction and development. According to the Premier, the protection of human rights is one of the ways the government ensures its constitutional duties towards Ethiopians and also to discharge its regional and international responsibilities. He further emphasized that implementation of the action plan is a duty that has to be undertaken by everyone.
His Excellency Ato Getachew Ambaye, Minister of Ministry of justice, in his part reiterated the government’s commitment to the Action Plan and its readiness to the effective implementation of the action plan at all level. Particularly, the National Steering Committee and the National Action Plan Coordinating Office established under the Ministry of justice will be fully functional to oversee the implementation process together with other similar committees set-forth within each region.
In his welcoming speech Ambassador Tiuneh Zena, Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, has pointed out the very relevance of protecting human rights to ensure peace, security and sustainable development in the country. Appreciating the government’s commitment to work towards the implementation of the human rights action plan at both the federal and the state levels, he reminded them that his commission will closely monitor the effective implementation of the same and will let the public know those responsible authorities who might be unable to live up to the requirements of the constitution.
On his remarks, Mr. Eugen Owusu, UN Resident Representative and Coordinator of the UNDP in Ethiopia, commended Ethiopia for preparing National Human Rights Action Plan as a product of strong government leadership in responding to key recommendation of the Universal Periodic Review. He, however, stressed that the practical implementation of the action plan matters most.
Within the two days consultative workshop, two papers were presented and discussed by participants. While the first paper was mainly dealing with the general facts on the preparation and adoption processes, the second was meant to briefly explain the main contents of the action plan to the participants. Based on the two presentations, each governmental organization were later asked to prepare specific, concrete and targeted action plans to be implemented in the 2013/14 budget year.
The workshop finally comes to an end on agreement that one month additional time is required for regional governments to prepare their own implementing action plan in 2013/14.
It is to be recalled that the preparation of the National Human Rights Action Plan was closely supervised by the national Steering Committee setup by the prime minister and is composed of the minister of Justice as chair, Chief Commissiner of The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission as secretary and state ministers of Foreign Affairs, Federal Affairs, Finance and Economic Development, Communication Affairs, Children and Youth Affairs, and Social and Labor Affairs as the members of the steering committee.
National Consultative Meeting
Recommends Further Enrichment of the Ethiopian Draft NHRAP
The consultative meeting of the National Coordinating Committee for the Preparation of the Ethiopian National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) has recommended, among other things, the inclusion into the draft Action Plan of increasing foodstuff budget of people in detention centers, having clear procedures with regard to pardon, amnesty, probation and limit of the period of trial. Also recommended are building the capacity of criminal justice administrative bodies, the translation of some major codes that are found in Amharic and English version into other regional working languages in order to make their application easier.
In a bid to further protect the rights of women and children, the meeting has also proposed in its recommendations the opening in other regions of rehabilitation and legal aid centers of the tutuzela model established at the Ghandi Hospital, an aggressive education campaign on the rights of vulnerable groups of society and the provision; at all level of learning institutions; of quality education. Read More...
DIGNITY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL OF US, MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE
Background to the UDHR
The UDHR: The Foundation of International Human Rights Law and for Our Common FutureOver the years, the commitment to human rights has been translated into law, whether in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles, regional agreements and domestic law, through which human rights are expressed and guaranteed. Indeed, the UDHR has inspired more than 80 international human rights treaties and declarations, a great number of regional human rights conventions, domestic human rights bills, and constitutional provisions, which together constitute a comprehensive legally binding system for the promotion and protection of human rights.
The People behind the vision: UDHR Drafting Committee
The Commission on Human Rights was made up of 18 members from various political, cultural and religious backgrounds. It met for the first time in 1947 Eleanor Roosevelt, widow of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the UDHR drafting committee. With her were René Cassin of France, who composed the first draft of the Declaration, the Committee Rapporteur Charles Malik of Lebanon, Vice-Chairman Peng Chung Chang of China, and John Humphrey of Canada, Director of the United Nations Human Rights Division, who prepared the Declaration’s blueprint. The final draft by Cassin was handed to the Commission on Human Rights, which was being held in Geneva. The draft declaration sent out to all UN member States for comments became known as the Geneva draft. The first draft of the Declaration was proposed in September 1948 with over 50 Member States participating in the final drafting. By its resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948, the General Assembly, meeting in Paris, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with eight nations abstaining from the vote but none dissenting.
The entire text of the UDHR was composed in less than two years. At a time when the world was divided into Eastern and Western blocks, finding a common ground on what should make the essence of the document proved to be a colossal task.
It was the UDHR that first recognized what have become nowadays universal values: human rights are inherent to all and the concern of the whole of the international community. The Declaration and its core values, including non-discrimination, equality, fairness and universality, apply to everyone, everywhere and always. The UDHR belongs to all of us including African women, men, children, youths, elderly; those with living HIV and AIDS and persons with disabilities as well the rural and city-dwellers.
More than ever, in a world threatened by racial, economic and religious divides, we must defend and proclaim the universal principles - first enshrined in the UDHR - of justice, fairness and equality that people across all boundaries hold so deeply.
The core principles of human rights first set out in the UDHR, such as universality, interdependence and indivisibility, equality and non-discrimination are crucial in achieving justice. Non-discrimination, for example, has become one of the cross-cutting principles in human rights law. The principle is present in all the major human rights treaties and provides the central theme of some of them such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Human rights are not only a common inheritance of universal values that transcend cultures and traditions. We should, through practice, laws and costumes make them the local and cultural values of our modern societies, in order for them to become nationally-owned commitments grounded in international treaties and national constitutions and laws.
The UDHR aims to protect all of us, and it also enshrines the gamut of human rights. The drafters of the UDHR saw a future of freedom from fear, but also of freedom from want and ignorance. They put all human rights on an equal footing and confirmed human rights are all essential to a life of dignity.
The UDHR drafters’ vision has inspired many human rights defenders like you and me who have struggled over the last six decades to make that vision a reality. The contemporary international human rights edifice that originates in the UDHR is to be celebrated. But it has yet to benefit all of humanity equally, especially women; and in particular the women of Africa.
The struggle is far from over. As the Declaration’s custodians and beneficiaries, all of us must reclaim the UDHR, make it our own, and it has to do with both our rights and our responsibilities. While we are entitled to our human rights, we should also respect the human rights of others and help make universal human rights a reality for all of us. In our efforts lies the power of the UHDR: it is a living document that will continue to inspire generations to come.
The UDHR demands meeting basic human needs and recognizes the indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights, whether they are civil and political rights, such as the right to life, and freedom of expression; or economic, social and cultural rights, such as the rights to work, social security and education. The improvement of one right contributes to the advancement of the others. Likewise, the deprivation of one right adversely affects the others. The entitlement to and fulfilment of all human rights are essential to a life of dignity.
The Declaration’s enduring relevance is more compelling still when we listen to the voices of people at the grassroots level. When the World Bank conducted its “Voices of the Poor” surveys in the late 1990s, interviewing over 80,000 people in villages and local communities on their values, needs and strongest aspirations, the results read like the list of everyday rights in the UDHR.
The UDHR declares in its preamble that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” It was the first, and remains the foremost, statement of the rights and freedoms of all of us as human beings, without distinction of any kind.
All of Us
The UDHR belongs to all of us. No matter where you live, how much money you have, what faith you practice or political views you hold, all the human rights in the UDHR apply to you and have everything to do with you.
Dignity and Justice for All of Us