Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Proposed New Law Threatens to Shut Down Non-Governmental Organizations

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2008 Dec 15
Update Date: 
2009 Jan 6
Update: 

URGENT APPEAL: New Law Threatens Human Rights in Ethiopia

On 6 January 2009, the Ethiopian government pushed through passage of the Charities and Societies Proclamation before Parliament went on recess. The effects of this Proclamation were set out in Equality Now Women’s Action 22.5 (see below). We hope you have the time to send a letter immediately to the Ethiopian Justice Minister, urging immediate review and revision of this law. We have suggested a possible text below, but please feel free to write your own letter.

Without an amendment to the provision that restricts organizations which receive more than 10% of their funding from outside the country from undertaking any human rights work, many critical services and protections will disappear. Thank you for your partnership.

Equality Now

Sample letter

Woineshet Zebene Negash In March 2002, Equality Now partnered with the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA) in the campaign to outlaw bride abduction in Ethiopia, adding an international overlay to the advocacy EWLA carries out on the ground.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the officials listed below expressing deep concern over the draft Charities and Societies Proclamation as it would effectively disallow human rights organizations from operating in Ethiopia. Highlight also the unacceptably wide scope of authority given to the proposed Charities and Societies Agency under the bill and the lack of transparency regarding its terms of operation. Ask the officials to ensure removal of the requirement that NGOs working on women’s rights and other specified issues raise at least 90% of their funding domestically and urge them to promote comprehensive revision of the text to guarantee that all NGOs, including those working to promote human rights, including women’s rights, are permitted to operate without political interference as provided under the Ethiopian Constitution and international human rights treaties to which Ethiopia is a party.

Letters should go immediately to:

H.E. Berhan Hailu
Minister of Justice
P O. Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: +251 11 551 3620
Fax: +251 11 551 7775
Email: justice@ethionet.et

H.E. Muferiat Kamil
Minister of Women’s Affairs
P.O. Box 1293
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: +251 11 416 6375
Fax: +251 11 416 6362

With copies to:

H.E. Dr. Kassa G. Hiwot
Commissioner Ethiopian Human Rights Commission
P.O. Box 1165
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: +251 11 618 0046
Fax: +251 11 618 0041
Email: hrcom@ethionet.et

H.E. Ato Abay Tekele
Ombudsman Institution
P.O. Box 2459
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Tel: +251 11 553 2052/53
Fax: +251 11 553 2073
Email: ombudsmaneth@ethionet.et

 

Women's Action 22.1: March 2002
Women's Action 22.2: February 2004
Women's Action 22.3: November 2004
Women's Action 22.4: June 2005

Ethiopia: Abduction and Rape--Law Reform and the Case of Woineshet Zebene Negash

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2005 Jun 1
Update: 

January 2008 update on the case of Woineshet Zebene Negash:

The Cassation Bench of the Federal Supreme Court in December 2005 refused to hear Woineshet’s appeal on the basis it believed no error of law had been committed by the lower courts. All domestic legal recourse is now closed to Woineshet.  Anecdotal information suggests abductions and rapes ceased when the outcome of Woineshet’s case was uncertain, but resumed when it was clear the perpetrators would go unpunished. Woineshet’s rapist and abductors are still at large and unconfirmed reports suggest the rapist abducted another girl, aged 14, whom he married and now has a baby. Equality Now, in conjunction with the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), has submitted a communication to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights claiming violation of Woineshet’s rights under the African Charter. Please continue to write to the authorities below to ensure implementation of the law against abduction and rape and investigation into the conduct of Prosecutor Tolcha.

On Woineshet Zebene Negash 9 May 2005 the new Ethiopian Penal Code finally came into effect, which removed the marital exemption for abduction and rape. Both abduction and rape are criminal offences under Ethiopian law, but Articles 558 and 599 of the 1957 Ethiopian Penal Code had provided that in the event of subsequent marriage to his victim, the perpetrator was exempt from criminal responsibility for these crimes.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Minster of Justice, commending the Ethiopian authorities for having amended the Penal Code so that abductors and rapists who marry their victims are no longer exempt from punishment. Ask him to ensure that the law against abduction and rape is properly enforced and applied, including through the promotion of appropriate training for law enforcement authorities. Let him know of your concerns regarding Woineshet’s case. Request that his office closely monitor the appeal hearing scheduled for 4 July 2005 and any subsequent appeal proceedings in the case. Please write also to Mr. Dewano Kedir, Head of the Justice Beureau of the Oromia Region. Thank him for initiating an investigation into the conduct of Prosecutor Tolcha and urge him to impose appropriate disciplinary sanctions for misconduct in the handling of this case. Urge him also to undertake training for officials in his office, particularly on the law of rape. Letters should be addressed to:

The Honorable Harka Haroye
Minister of Justice
P.O. Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-51 77 75

Mr. Dewano Kedir
Head, Justice Bureau of the Oromia Region
P.O. Box 9156
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-65 14 47

Ethiopia: Abduction and Rape--Law Reform and the Case of Woineshet Zebene Negash

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2004 Nov 1

Woineshet Zebene NegashIn March 2002, Equality Now launched its campaign against abduction and rape in Ethiopia, highlighting the case of Woineshet Zebene Negash, who at the age of 13 was abducted and raped by Aberew Jemma Negussie in the village where she lived with her mother and grandparents in the south-eastern part of Ethiopia. Two days later she was rescued, and Aberew Jemma Negussie was arrested.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Oromia regional authorities listed below. Urge them to ensure that a further appeal will be heard in Woineshet’s case and that the rule of law is appropriately applied in any such appeal. Express concern over the decision of the High Court of the Arsi Zone, which does not appear to have taken into consideration the evidence of abduction, rape and attempted forced marriage of Woineshet, and express concern over reports that indicate that the court wrongly perceived rape to be a crime against virginity. Remind the officials of the government’s obligation under the Constitution and international law to guarantee the right to equality under the law and equal protection of the law.

Please also write to the Minster of Justice, commending the Ethiopian authorities for having amended the Penal Code so that abductors and rapists who marry their victims are no longer exempted from punishment. Ask him to ensure that the law is translated and passed to the President for signature as soon as possible so that these new provisions take effect. Let him know of your concerns regarding Woineshet’s case and ask him to investigate the conduct of Judge Ube and Prosecutor Tolcha in the appeal and to take appropriate measures if they are found to have acted improperly. Request that his office monitors the appeal hearing scheduled for 5 January 2005 and all subsequent appeal proceedings in the case. Also ask him to promote appropriate training for law enforcement authorities so that the law is properly applied in Ethiopia.

Letters should be addressed to:

Mr. Dewano Kedir
Head, Justice Bureau of the Oromia Region
P.O. Box 9156
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-65 14 47

Mr. Tesale Abera
President of the Supreme Court of the Oromia Region
P.O. Box 26110
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-23 44 37

The Honorable Harka Haroye
Minister of Justice
P.O. Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-51 77 75

Please send copies of your letters to the Oromia officials above to:

Mr. Junedi Sado
President of the Oromia Region
P.O. Box 101769
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-51 36 42

Ethiopia: Official License for Abduction and Rape

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2004 Feb 1

Woineshet Zebene NegashOn July 22, 2003, Aberew Jemma Negussie was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment without parole for the abduction and rape of Woineshet Zebene Negash. His four accomplices were each sentenced to 8 years’ imprisonment without parole.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Ethiopian authorities listed below. Commend the Minister of Justice for the action taken to ensure justice in the case of Aberew Jemma Negussie and urge him to actively support the abolition of the legal provisions in Articles 558 and 599 of the Ethiopian Penal Code that exempt perpetrators of abduction and rape from criminal responsibility upon marriage. Urge the Minister to ensure that abduction and rape are treated as serious criminal offences and that, when prosecuting and sentencing perpetrators, the courts send a strong message that these crimes will not be tolerated. Write to the Chair of the Legal and Administrative Affairs Standing Committee of Parliament and urge him to take immediate steps to stop the practice of bride abduction in Ethiopia by rescinding Articles 558 and 599. Remind these officials of the government’s obligation under the Constitution and international law to protect and promote the right to equality and equal protection of the law. Letters should be addressed to:

The Honorable Harka Haroye
Minister of Justice
PO Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-51-77-75

The Honorable Asmelash
Woldeselassie, Chair
Legal and Administrative Affairs Standing Committee
PO Box 80001
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-55-09-00

Ethiopia: Official License for Abduction and Rape

Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
2002 Mar 1

Woineshet Zebene NegashWoineshet Zebene Negash lived in a rural village with her mother and grandparents in the southeastern part of Ethiopia. She was 13 years old when, on March 12, 2001, a man by the name of Aberew Jemma Negussie came to her residence in the middle of the night with a group of accomplices, carried her away and raped her. Her teachers reported her abduction to the police.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Ethiopian authorities and urge them to take immediate steps to stop the practice of bride abduction by abolishing the legal provisions that exempt perpetrators of abduction or rape from criminal responsibility upon marriage. Urge them to ensure that abduction and rape are treated as serious criminal offences and that, when prosecuting and sentencing perpetrators, the courts send a strong message that these crimes will not be tolerated. Remind the government of its duty to protect constitutional rights, in particular the right to equality (Article 25 of the Ethiopian Constitution), the right to marital, personal and family rights (Article 34) and the right to security of person (Article 16). Mention also the Ethiopian Government's international obligations, including CEDAW (Article15 - Equality before the law) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, Article 23 - Free and full consent of parties intending to enter marriage). Letters should be addressed to:

H.E Prime Minster Meles Zenawi
Office of the Prime Minister
PO Box 1030
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-55-20-20

The Honorable Harka Haroye
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251-1-51-77-75

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