January 13, 2009

Ethiopia sinks into despotism

Ethiopia sinks into despotism

Ethiopia enacted legislation that restricts the work of independent human rights defenders and civil society organizations.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ethiopia has sunk deeper into despotism after it passed a law that restricts the work of independent human rights defenders and civil society organizations.

Two international human rights organizations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have strongly condemned the new Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSO law), enacted by parliament on January 2.

The organizations are urging donor and international organizations to condemn the new legislation, and to closely monitor and press for amendments to its most damaging provisions.

The new criminalizes human rights activities undertaken by Ethiopian organizations that receive more than ten percent of their funding from abroad.

The future of NGOs, including campaigners for gender equality, children’s rights, disabled persons rights and conflict resolution, is at stake if the legislation is enforced.

Ethiopia passes law to restrict charity activity

Critics argue that the new rules, especially on foreign funding of local NGOs, would hurt human rights groups critical of the government and could disrupt aid operations by such groups

Ethiopian Government shutting down charities

Government says proposed law to regulate charities in Ethiopia is an attempt to regulate a needed and sprawling sector and also to block foreign political interference
It also imposes disproportionate and criminal penalties for even minor administrative breaches of the law, establishes a Charities and Societies Agency with broad discretionary power over civil society organizations, and allows government surveillance of and interference in the operation and management of civil society organizations.

Human Rights Watch said that the law is a direct rebuke to governments that assist Ethiopia and expressed concerns about the law’s restrictions on freedom of association and expression.

Amnesty International termed the CSO law as repressive and designed to strictly control and monitor civil society in an atmosphere of increasing intolerance of the work of human rights defenders and civil society organizations.

However, the Ethiopian government claims the CSO law addresses perceived inadequacies in the existing legal regime, promotes financial transparency and accountability, and provides a proper administration and regulation of civil society.


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