Ethiopia

 

  • CIVICUS at the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    The opening week of the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council will be dominated by the high level segment which will include approximately 99 high level speakers including top political leaders from UN member states as well as UN Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres, and the President of the General Assembly amongst others.
     
    To note is the oral update given by the High Commissioner for human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on the 7th March which will address a number of pressing issues on the Councils agenda as well as bringing to light issues that are not being properly addressed by the Council and merit further attention.
     
    On the agenda this session of Interest to CIVICUS will be reports on the safety of journalists, the report on effectiveness and reform of the Human Rights Council, the report on Human Rights Defenders and People on the move by Michel Forst, SR for Human Rights Defenders. Also of note, the right to privacy and a number of country specific situations. CIVICUS will be following many discussions where civic space is touched upon and will continue to advocate for an enabling environment for civil society.

    Thursday, 1 March 14:00 - 15:00 (Room XXVII) | Human Rights & Citizenship in the Gulf Region | Organised by: SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, CIVICUS, International Federation for Human Rights, and
    Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme

    Across the Gulf Region, the relationship of citizenship and human rights has become a central issue. This event will examine how the authorities have increasingly sought to strip human rights defenders of their citizenship as a reprisal for their perceived political views and legitimate human rights work. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS: 

    • Tor Hodenfield, CIVICUS
    • Tara O'Grady, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
    • Mohamed Sultan, Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    • Abdelbagi Jibril, Darfur Relief & Documentation Centre
    • Moderator: Asma Darwish, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights

    Friday, 2 March 11:30 - 13:00 (Room XXIV) | Ethiopia: The role of the international community in ending impunity and ensuring accountability for violations of fundamental rights | Organised by: Defend Defenders,Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, and CIVICUS

    The event will provide an opportunity to examine the state of civic space in Ethiopia and the setbacks in has suffered over the last decade. Civic space has become increasingly controlled and restricted as human rights defenders have faced threats, arrests, and detention while attempting to exercise their rights to assembly, association, and expression. This even will ook at these threats and trends. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS: 

    • Yared Hailiemariam, Director, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
    • Tsedale Lemma, Editor-In-Chief, Addis Standard Magazine
    • Bayisa Wak-Woya, Director, Global Refugee & Migration Council 
    • Moderator: Hassan Shire, Executive Director, DefendDefenders

    Friday, 2 March 15:00-16:30 (Room XI) | Counterterrorism, Emergency Powers, and the Protection of Civic Space | Organised by: Article 19, ECNL, CIVICUS, ICNL, World Movement for Democracy, and International Federation for Human Rights

    The use of exceptional national security and emergency powers to combat terrorism has become increasingly common. The event will look at how counterterrorism measures and emergency powers have increasingly resulted in the restrictions of fundamental freedoms, including the rights to assembly, association and expression. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS: 

    • Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
    • Kerem Altiparmek, Ankara University, Faculty of Political Science
    • Yared Hailemariam, Director, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
    • Lisa Oldring, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
    • Sonia Tanic, Representative to the UN, International Federation for Human Rights
    • Moderator: Nicholas Miller, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

     

  • CIVICUS at the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    The opening week of the 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council will commence with the high level segment which will include approximately 99 high level speakers including top political leaders from UN member states as well as UN Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres, and the President of the General Assembly amongst others.
     
    To note is the oral update given by the High Commissioner for human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on the 7th March which will address a number of pressing issues on the Councils agenda as well as bringing to light issues that are not being properly addressed by the Council and merit further attention.
     
    Of interest to CIVICUS will be reports on the safety of journalists, the report on effectiveness and reform of the Human Rights Council, the report on Human Rights Defenders and People on the move by Michel Forst, SR for Human Rights Defenders. Also of note, the right to privacy and a number of country specific situations. CIVICUS will be following many discussions where civic space is touched upon and will continue to advocate for an enabling environment for civil society.

    Thursday, 1 March 14:00 - 15:00 (Room XXVII) | Human Rights & Citizenship in the Gulf Region | Organised by: SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, CIVICUS, International Federation for Human Rights, and Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme

    Across the Gulf Region, the relationship of citizenship and human rights has become a central issue. This event will examine how the authorities have increasingly sought to strip human rights defenders of their citizenship as a reprisal for their perceived political views and legitimate human rights work. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS: 

    • Tor Hodenfield, CIVICUS
    • Tara O'Grady, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights
    • Mohamed Sultan, Bahrain Center for Human Rights
    • Abdelbagi Jibril, Darfur Relief & Documentation Centre
    • Moderator: Asma Darwish, SALAM for Democracy and Human Rights

    Friday, 2 March 11:30 - 13:00 (Room XXIV) | Ethiopia: The role of the international community in ending impunity and ensuring accountability for violations of fundamental rights | Organised by: Defend Defenders,Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, and CIVICUS

    The event will provide an opportunity to examine the state of civic space in Ethiopia and the setbacks in has suffered over the last decade. Civic space has become increasingly controlled and restricted as human rights defenders have faced threats, arrests, and detention while attempting to exercise their rights to assembly, association, and expression. This even will ook at these threats and trends. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS: 

    • Yared Hailiemariam, Director, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
    • Tsedale Lemma, Editor-In-Chief, Addis Standard Magazine
    • Bayisa Wak-Woya, Director, Global Refugee & Migration Council 
    • Moderator: Hassan Shire, Executive Director, DefendDefenders

    Friday, 2 March 15:00-16:30 (Room XI) | Counterterrorism, Emergency Powers, and the Protection of Civic Space | Organised by: Article 19, ECNL, CIVICUS, ICNL, World Movement for Democracy, and International Federation for Human Rights

    The use of exceptional national security and emergency powers to combat terrorism has become increasingly common. The event will look at how counterterrorism measures and emergency powers have increasingly resulted in the restrictions of fundamental freedoms, including the rights to assembly, association and expression. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS: 

    • Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
    • Kerem Altiparmek, Ankara University, Faculty of Political Science
    • Yared Hailemariam, Director, Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
    • Lisa Oldring, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
    • Sonia Tanic, Representative to the UN, International Federation for Human Rights
    • Moderator: Nicholas Miller, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

    Thursday, 15 March 15:00-16:00 (Room XXII) | The Link Between the Deterioration of Human Rights in Egypt and the Massive Violations in the Gulf States | Gulf Center for Human Rights | International Federation for Human Rights | OMCT | International Service for Human Rights | CPJ | ALQST | CIVICUS | CPJ

    A look at the middle east governments' coordinated efforts to target human rights defenders and journalists across the region. See full invitation.

    PANELISTS:

    • Yahya Al-Assiri, Director of ALQST for Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
    • Justin Shilad, Committee to Protect Journalists
    • Nardine Al-Nemr, Academic & Activists from Egypt
    • Sara Brandt, Advocacy & Campaigns Officer, CIVICUS

     

  • CIVICUS at the 38th Session of the Human Rights Council

    The 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council, from 18 June to 6 July 2018, will consider core civic space issues of freedom of association, assembly and expression. During this session, CIVICUS will be supporting advocacy missions on the grave human rights situations in Tanaznia, Ethiopia and Eritrea and Nicaragua, while also participating in reviews of citizen rights in Burundi, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the European Union. Additional areas to note:

    • The first week of the session will coincide with World Refugee Day (20 June)
    • Be the first session of the newly appointed Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association and Assembly, Clement Voule
    • Process to renew and strengthen the Civic Space Resolution

    If you are in Geneva, please join us at the following events that CIVICUS is organising with partners:

    These events will be livestreamed on our CIVICUS Facebook Page and daily updates provided on Twitter.

     

  • CIVICUS at UN Human Rights Council: Human rights challenges in the context of countering terrorism

    37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
    Oral Statement – Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism

    1 March 2018

    CIVICUS, on behalf of the Civic Space Initiative, welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s report on the human rights challenge of states of emergency in the context of countering terrorism.

    This Council has reaffirmed that the most effective means of countering terrorism is through the respect for human rights, including by addressing conditions conducive to terrorism such as a lack of respect for the rule of law, political exclusion, suppression of dissent.

    Worryingly, from the Maldives, to France, to Turkey, to Ethiopia, governments across the world are invoking states of emergency, with the effect, and in some cases the intent, of criminalising dissent and persecuting human rights defenders, protesters and civil society organisations. Rather than pursue legitimate national security objectives, these laws are applied to insulate governments from legitimate criticism. Such measures are contrary to international human rights law and are counter-productive to peace and security.

    We urge states to heed the Human Rights Committee’s guidance that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly should not be derogated, and we consider the same to be true for other rights essential to civil society.

    All national counter-terrorism laws must be brought into compliance with international human rights law, with the full and effective participation of civil society. We call on States that are currently under States of Emergency to ensure their independent review by the judiciary, and to end them where they are no longer justified by the exigencies of the situation.

    We ask the Special Rapporteur how the Human Rights Council can better support the UN Security Council in addressing the shrinking of civic space, to provide accountability for abuses of counter-terrorism measures against persons exercising their rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression.

     

  • Country recommendations on civic space for UN´s Universal Periodic Review

    CIVICUS makes six joint UN Universal Periodic Review submissions on civil society space: Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Qatar

    CIVICUS and its partners have made joint UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on 6 countries in advance of the 33rd UPR session (April-May 2019). The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.  

    Cote d’Ivoire: CIVICUS and the Coalition Ivoirienne des Défenseurs des droits Humains (CIDDH) examine the steps taken by the government of Cote d’Ivoire to address restrictions on civic space.  We highlight the promulgation of the law on Human Rights Defenders and the subsequent Resolution passed to ensure implementation of the law. However, we note ongoing restrictions on freedom of expression, the targeting of journalists and bloggers by the authorities, attempts to undermine freedom of association and the tendency to use excessive force to disperse peaceful protests.  

    Democratic Republic of Congo (FR): CIVICUS and Ligue des Droits de la personne dans la région des Grands Lacs (LDGL) analyse the multiple unwarranted restrictions on civic space in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Authorities have systematically banned protests, in particular protests organised by civil society, social movements and opposition, while security forces have used excessive force against peaceful protesters, leading to hundreds of deaths. Additionally, HRDs and activists are subject to arbitrary arrests and judicial harassment, aimed at preventing them from exercising their democratic and civic rights. These unwarranted restrictions have intensified since the start of the political and security crisis in 2015, precipitated by President Kabila’s attempts to remain in power despite a constitutional two-term limit. 

    Equatorial Guinea: CIVICUS, the Committee Protect Journalists (CPJ), Centro de Estudios e Iniciativas para el Desarrollo (CEID), ONG – Cooperación y Desarrollo and EG Justice examine ongoing restrictions on freedom of association, attacks and intimidation of journalists and bloggers and the general disenabling environment for freedom of expression and independent media agencies.  We further discuss threats faced by human rights defenders and the frequent violent repression of peaceful assemblies.

    Ethiopia: CIVICUS, the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), DefendDefenders, PEN International, Article 19, the Consortium of Ethiopian Rights Organizations (CERO), and Access Now examine the Government of Ethiopia’s fulfilment of the rights to the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression, and unwarranted restrictions on HRDs since its previous UPR examination in 2014. While the government recently committed to addressing a range of restrictive legislation, alongside releasing large numbers of political prisoners, at the time of writing, the restrictive legal framework remains in place. Acute implementation gaps were found regarding recommendations relating to civic space including the rights to the freedoms of association and peaceful assembly.

    Nicaragua (ES): CIVICUS and the Nicaraguan Network for Democracy and Local Development Federation (Red Local) address concerns about the violent repression of protests and the criminalisation of protest leaders and demonstrators, particularly of the student and peasant movements, as well as the intensification of the persecution and intimidation suffered by CSOs supporting social movements in Nicaragua. Along with the growing restrictions on freedom of expression that stem from media concentration in government hands and pressures against journalists and independent media covering issues such as corruption, elections and infrastructure or extractive projects, the submission further examines the alarming increase of unwarranted restrictions on the press linked to the coverage of protests and their violent suppression and related human rights violations.

    Qatar: CIVICUS and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights highlight the continued restrictions on freedom of association and expression in Qatar, which include unwarranted arrests on foreign journalists and confiscation of equipment, and restrictions on online content under the Cybercrime Prevention Law. The authorities in Qatar also continue to restrict the formation of independent civil society organisations committed to the advancement of human rights, and there have been severe and undue limitations to freedoms of assembly resulting in almost no protests in Qatar despite serious human rights violations.

     

  • El Reino Unido responde a las preguntas realizadas por los miembros de CIVICUS al Consejo de Seguridad

    En el marco de sus consultas con la sociedad civil durante su presidencia del Consejo de Seguridad del mes de agosto, la Misión Permanente del Reino Unido de Gran Bretaña e Irlanda del Norte ante las Naciones Unidas respondió a las preguntas presentadas por los miembros de CIVICUS sobre la situación de seguridad en la República Democrática del Congo, Eritrea, Etiopía, Gaza y Birmania.


    La sociedad civil ocupa un papel importante en los programas del Consejo de Seguridad y CIVICUS desea agradecer al Reino Unido y a todos los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad por su compromiso constante con la participación de la sociedad civil en el trabajo del Consejo.

    El Consejo de Seguridad sigue de cerca la situación en la República Democrática del Congo (RDC).  En la resolución 2409 solicitamos al Secretario General que se nos proporcionaran informes cada treinta días.  El Consejo también aborda con frecuencia la situación de la RDC. El Consejo de Seguridad insiste en la importancia de que se celebren elecciones pacíficas, creíbles, inclusivas y oportunas el 23 de diciembre de 2018, en conformidad con el calendario electoral, que conduzcan a un traspaso pacífico del poder, según las disposiciones de la Constitución congoleña.  El Consejo de Seguridad también destaca la importancia de proteger a los civiles, incluso mediante el mandato de la MONUSCO, para la cual su protección es una prioridad estratégica. Durante la presidencia británica tuvo lugar una sesión informativa del Consejo de Seguridad sobre la RDC centrada en las próximas elecciones. Aquí puede consultarse la declaración del embajador.
     
    El Consejo de Seguridad publicó una comunicado sobre la firma de la Declaración conjunta de paz y amistad entre Eritrea y Etiopía del 9 de julio de 2018

    El OOPS fue creado por mandato de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas.  La posibilidad de que se suspendan sus servicios debido al actual déficit financiero del OOPS es motivo de gran preocupación para los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad, como así se expresó durante las consultas del Consejo celebradas el 22 de agosto sobre la situación en Oriente Medio.

    El Reino Unido sigue firmemente comprometido con el OOPS y con los refugiados palestinos de todo Oriente Medio. Ante las crecientes presiones financieras, el Reino Unido ha aportado alrededor de 60 millones de dólares americanos en 2018. Instamos a otros países a que proporcionen financiación adicional y a que efectúen desembolsos periódicos para garantizar que el OOPS siga llevando acabo su labor esencial.

    El Consejo de Seguridad sigue de cerca y con preocupación la situación en Gaza, por ejemplo, a través de las reuniones informativas periódicas como la que la Secretaria General Adjunta, Rosemary DiCarlo, ofreció ante el Consejo el 22 de agosto.
     
    El principal objetivo a largo plazo del Reino Unido es el retorno seguro, voluntario y digno a Rakáin, bajo supervisión internacional, del mayor número posible de refugiados rohinyás que se encuentran actualmente en Bangladés. En la actualidad, consideramos que las condiciones no son las adecuadas para el regreso de los refugiados. Apoyaremos a Birmania para que así lo haga, pero necesita realizar mejoras tangibles sobre el terreno. De manera más inmediata, Birmania debería permitir el acceso sin trabas de la ONU al norte de Rakáin.

    El Reino Unido ha acogido con satisfacción el anuncio de Birmania de crear una comisión de investigación sobre la violencia en Rakáin. Ahora es esencial que el gobierno birmano establezca las condiciones para que dicha investigación sea creíble, transparente e imparcial. Aún esperamos la decisión de la CPI con el fin de saber si tiene jurisdicción sobre las deportaciones de rohinyás a Bangladés (país signatario del Estatuto de Roma).
     
    Este mes, los miembros de CIVICUS preguntaron por las libertades cívicas en Colombia, la retirada de las tropas de la UNAMID de Darfur, la inseguridad alimentaria en el Sahel, la reubicación de la embajada de los Estados Unidos en Jerusalén, el deterioro del espacio cívico en Uganda, el caso de Omar Al Bashir en la Corte Penal Internacional y la amenaza mundial que supone la ciberdelincuencia.

    Estas preguntas y respuestas son el resultado de un llamamiento mensual a los miembros de CIVICUS para que envíen sus preguntas al presidente del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU. Esta es una oportunidad para que los miembros entren en contacto con un importante foro internacional de toma de decisiones. El personal de CIVICUS plantea las preguntas en nombre de los miembros de CIVICUS durante el informe mensual del presidente. ¡Hágase socio de CIVICUS para mantenerse informado y participar en esta acción!

     

  • Ethiopia: Dear Prime Minister, act to protect the rights of civil society organisations

    Joint civil society letter to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia on the need to revise a draft law that would restrict freedom of association in the country.

     
    • Human rights groups in Ethiopia have suffered from funding constraints and the intrusive powers of a key government agency that oversees the registration of civil society organisations.
    • Since Prime Minister Abiy came to power, a draft law has been developed that still contains some restrictions on the funding and activities of civil society organisations. The draft law is to be considered by Parliament in the coming weeks.
    • CIVICUS and a coalition of rights groups, have written the below letter to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to draw attention to civil society's concerns in the draft law

     

    To: Prime Minister-, Dr. Abiy Ahmed
    Cc: Tagesse Chafo, Speaker of the House of Peoples’ Representative

    Your Excellency,
     
    The undersigned international, regional and national human rights and development organisations write to urge your government to ensure that the draft Charities and Societies (CSO) Proclamation complies with regional and international human rights norms and standards relating to freedom of association. The tabling of the draft law represents a pivotal moment to address long standing deficits in existing legislation, create a robust and resilient civil society and an enabling environment for human rights defenders in Ethiopia. Authorities should ensure that the new text is in line with the African Commission’s Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and international law.

    We understand that the draft law developed by the Legal Advisory Council, and currently under consideration by the Office of the Attorney General, is expected to be tabled in Parliament in the coming weeks. The draft addresses long standing concerns over funding constraints, the intrusive powers of the CSO Agency, and the lack of an appeal process over registration; while it is a marked improvement on the current legal framework governing the operations of civil society organisations, we remain concerned that it includes a number of unwarranted restrictions on the activities and independence of international and national civil society organisations.

    Of critical concern are vague and unduly cumbersome limitations on the independence and operating environment for national civil society. In particular, the law imposes an authorisation regime compelling all CSOs in Ethiopia to register with the CSO Agency, potentially allowing for organizations to be criminally liable should they be operating informally. Civil society organisations already registered under the previous law would have to re-register. This proposed process, which can take up to four months, is primarily overseen by government-appointed CSO Agency that is endowed with broad discretion to order closures and asset freezes of civil society organisations. 

    Moreover, requirements capping the administrative costs of civil society organisations at 20 percent of their income would subvert their ability to independently determine the range of legitimate activities they support and prioritise. Given the diversity of initiatives assumed by civil society organisations in Ethiopia, such inflexible limitations will unreasonably hamper the work of many civil society organisations.

    We are further concerned that overly broad provisions would curtail the extent to which international civil society organisations can engage in advocacy and lobbying, and that burdensome registration requirements may be invoked to suppress the activities of international civil society organisations and threaten essential rights-based initiatives.

    Such measures erode Ethiopia’s commitment to protect, promote and fulfil the right to freedom of association. On repeated occasions, independent international and regional experts have called on the Ethiopian authorities to amend or repeal the CSO Proclamation by addressing unwarranted restrictions on freedom of association.

    The announcement to revise laws that have in the past been used to stifle dissent was one of a series of planned reforms announced by your office that has rightly earned praise from Ethiopians and international actors alike. As such, we the undersigned, have watched closely to see whether the revision of the first of those laws, the CSO Proclamation, would reflect the long-standing concerns that many domestic and international actors have had. Despite the above reservations, we are encouraged by the Legal Advisory Council’s draft and watch with keen interest how the draft proclamation will move through the Attorney General’s office to the Council of Ministers for eventual approval by the House of Representatives. The process by which the CSO Proclamation was revised by the Legal Advisory Council and will eventually be considered for approval by the House of Representatives, the first of the three laws to go through such a process, is an important harbinger of how different organs of the government will show their commitment to revising laws in line with international human rights norms ahead of the 2020 elections.

    During this time of critical reform, we urge the government of Ethiopia to consider these recommendations and take the following measures:

    1. Ensure that the majority of CSO Board members are sourced from civil society through a transparent appointment process;
    2. Replace provisions requiring an authorisation regime for registration with one requiring simple notification;
    3. Where applicable, reduce the time frame for decisions on CSO registration applications and appeals and ensure that the CSO Agency and the Board provide detailed written grounds for rejecting registration applications;
    4. Include precise and limited justification for under what conditions the CSO Agency can investigate and freeze the assets of civil society organisations and ensure that they are subject to judicial oversight;
    5. Revise the mandatory cap on administrative costs at 20% of income and replace it with a non-mandatory best practice standard;
    6. Ensure that all foreign and domestic civil society organisations operating in Ethiopia, are able to choose the areas they will work in and permit them to engage in lobbying and advocacy initiatives. 

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Sincerely,

    • ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa
    • Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)
    • CIVICUS
    • Civil Rights Defenders
    • Consortium of Ethiopian Rights Organizations (CERO)
    • DefendDefenders (EHAHRDP)
    • FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
    • Front Line Defenders 
    • Human Rights Watch (HRW)
    • PEN International
    • Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR)
    • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

     

  • Joint letter to new Ethiopian Prime Minister on recent arrests of journalists and human rights defenders

    In a letter to the Ethiopian Prime Minister-designate, a coalition of over 40 civil society organisations express their concern regarding the recent arrests of journalists and human rights defenders

    To: Prime Minister-Designate, Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali 
    Cc: Abadula Gemeda, Speaker of the House of Peoples’ Representative
                                               
    Your Excellencies, 

    The undersigned international, regional and national human rights and development organisations write to express our grave concern over the recent arrest of 11 Ethiopian journalists, bloggers and political opposition leaders amid a new crackdown on fundamental freedoms. Such measures undermine the Ethiopian government's international human rights obligations as well as recent political commitments to initiate an era of widespread democratic political reform. As you assume your position as Prime Minister, we urge the Ethiopian Government to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders, political activists and journalists, including the 11 individuals detained this week. 

    On 25 March 2018, Ethiopian police and security forces arrested journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, Zone9 bloggers Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, blogger Zelalem Workaggnhu  and political activists Andualem Arage, Addisu Getinet, Yidnekachewu Addis, Sintayehu Chekol, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla.

    The arrests were carried out while the defenders were attending a private meeting in Addis Ababa at the home of journalist Temesgen Desalegn. The private gathering was held in recognition of the recent release of thousands of political prisoners amidst ongoing and widespread protests against political marginalisation and land grabbing in the Oromia and Amhara regions which began in late 2015. The eleven are currently being held at Gotera-Pepsi Police Station in Addis Ababa.

    Days earlier on 8 March, authorities arrested Seyoum Teshome, a prominent blogger and university lecturer. Teshome, who is a frequent contributor to Ethiothinkthank.com and was detained for three months under the previous State of Emergency, is currently being held in the notorious Maekelawi Prison in Addis Ababa. 

    While the authorities have not publicly indicated if charges will be brought against the defenders, under the February reinstatement of the national State of Emergency, groups and individuals must seek permission from the Command Post to host public gatherings.

    Prior to their release in February, several of the defenders had previously been imprisoned for periods ranging from two to seven years in relation to their legitimate work as journalists, bloggers and political activists. Eskinder Nega and the Zone9 Bloggers are recipients of international awards celebrating their contribution to independent journalism and human rights. 

    The arrests follow the declaration of a national State of Emergency on 16 February by the Cabinet for a period of six months. The State of Emergency includes a number of draconian and overbroad provisions. Among other worrying violations of fundamental democratic freedoms, the State of Emergency imposes a blanket ban on all protests, the dissemination of any publication deemed to “incite and sow discord” including those who criticise the State of Emergency, and allows for warrantless arrest.

    Such measures are contrary to international human rights law and the Ethiopian Constitution and are counter-productive to peace and security. The invocation of the State of Emergency criminalises dissent and persecutes human rights defenders, protesters and journalists.

    We urge the government of Ethiopia to: (i) immediately release all human rights defenders, political opponents and journalists detained for exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly; (ii) end all forms of harassment against journalists and all citizens with critical views on national matters and; (iii) review and amend the State of Emergency to ensure that any limitations on fundamental rights are in line with  international human rights obligations.

    Sincerely,

    Access Now
    African Law Foundation (Nigeria)
    ARTICLE 19
    Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
    Asia Democracy Network (ADN)
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    Asian Legal Resource Center (ALRC)
    Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)
    The Article 20 Network
    Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN)
    Bytes4All Pakistan 
    Caucasus Civil Initiatives Center 
    Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation 
    Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
    Commonwealth Human Right Initiative (CHRI)
    DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    End Impunity
    Endorois Welfare Council (Kenya)
    Ethiopia Human Rights Project (EHRP)
    Freedom House
    Front Line Defenders
    Karapatan (Philippines) 
    Global Participe (Republic of the Congo)
    Greenpeace Africa 
    International Civil Society Centre 
    International Service for Human Rights
    JOINT - Ligas de ONGs em Mocambique (Mozambique)
    Odhikar (Bangladesh)
    OutRight Action International
    Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
    PEN International
    Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
    Sengwer Indigenous Peoples Programme 
    Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF)
    West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)
    West African Human Rights Defenders' Network (WAHRDN)
    World Movement for Democracy 
    World Organization Against Torture 
    Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) 

     

  • Joint letter to United Nations on human rights crisis in Ethiopia

     

    Permanent Representatives of
    Members and Observer States of the
    UN Human Rights Council

    Geneva, 25 May 2017

     
    RE: Addressing the pervasive human rights crisis in Ethiopia
     
    Your Excellency,

    The undersigned civil society organisations write to draw your attention to persistent and grave violations of human rights in Ethiopia and the pressing need to support the establishment of an independent, impartial and international investigation into atrocities committed by security forces to suppress peaceful protests and independent dissent.

    As the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) prepares to convene for its 35th session from 6 – 23 June 2017, we urge your delegation to prioritise and address through joint statements the ongoing human rights crisis in Ethiopia.

    In the wake of unprecedented, mass protests that erupted in November 2015 in Oromia, Amhara, and the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples (SNNPR) regional states, Ethiopian authorities routinely responded to legitimate and largely peaceful expressions of dissent with excessive and unnecessary force. As a result, over 800 protesters have been killed, thousands of political activists, human rights defenders, journalists and protesters have been arrested, and in October 2016, the Ethiopian Government declared a six-month nationwide State of Emergency that was extended for an additional four months on 30 March 2017 after some restrictions were lifted.

    The State of Emergency directives give sweeping powers to a Command Post, which has been appointed by the House of People’s Representatives to enforce the decree, including the suspension of fundamental and non-derogable rights protected by the Ethiopian Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and other international human rights treaties to which Ethiopia is party. More information on the human rights violations occurring under the current State of Emergency is included in the Annex at the end of this letter.

    Lack of independent investigations

    Few effective avenues to pursue accountability for abuses exist in Ethiopia, given the lack of independence of the judiciary – the ruling EPRDF coalition and allied parties control all 547 seats in Parliament.

    Ethiopia’s National Human Rights Commission, which has a mandate to investigate rights violations,in its June 2016 oral report to Parliament that the lethal force used by security forces in Oromia was proportionate to the risk they faced from the protesters. The written Amharic version of the report was only recently made public, and there are long-standing concerns about the impartiality and research methodology of the Commission. On 18 April 2017, the Commission submitted its second oral report to Parliament on the protests, which found that 669 people were killed, including 63 members of the security forces, and concluded that security forces had taken “proportionate measures in most areas.Both reports are in stark contrast with the findings of other national and international organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions has rated the Commission as B, meaning the latter has

    Refusal to cooperate with regional and international mechanisms

    In response to the recent crackdown, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has access for independent observers to the country to assess the human rights situation recently renewed his call for access to the country during a visit to the capital, Addis Ababa. Ethiopia’s government, however, has the call, citing its own investigation conducted by its Commission. UN Special Procedures have also made similar calls.

    In November 2016, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights adopted a resolution calling for an international, independent, and impartial investigation into allegations of the use of excessive and unnecessary lethal force by security forces to disperse and suppress peaceful protests. Recent European parliament and US Congressional resolutions have also called for independent investigations. The Ethiopian embassy in Belgium dismissed the European Parliament’s resolution citing its own Commission’s investigations into the protests.

    As a member of the UN HRC, Ethiopia has an obligation to “uphold the highest standards” of human rights, and “fully cooperate” with the Council and its mechanisms (GA Resolution 60/251, OP 9), yet there are outstanding requests for access from Special Procedures, including from the special rapporteurs on torture, freedom of opinion and expression, and peaceful assembly, among others.

    Recommendations

    During the upcoming 35th session of the UN HRC, we urge your delegation to make joint and individual statements reinforcing and building upon the expressions of concern by the High Commissioner, UN Special Procedures, and others.

    Specifically, the undersigned organisations request your delegation to publicly urge Ethiopia to:

    1. urgently allow access to an international, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into all of the deaths resulting from alleged excessive use of force by the security forces, and other violations of human rights in the context of the protests;
    2. respond favourably to country visit requests by UN Special Procedures;
    3. immediately and unconditionally release journalists, human rights defenders, political opposition leaders and members as well as protesters arbitrarily detained during and in the aftermath of the protests;
    4. ensure that those responsible for human rights violations are prosecuted in proceedings which comply with international law and standards on fair trials; and
    5. fully comply with its international legal obligations and commitments including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and its own Constitution.

     
    With assurances of our highest consideration,
     
    Sincerely,

    • Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
    • CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    • Civil Rights Defenders
    • DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    • Ethiopia Human Rights Project
    • Freedom House
    • Front Line Defenders
    • Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    • Human Rights Watch
    • International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    • International Service for Human Rights
    • Reporters Without Borders
    • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

    Annex: Background

    A repressive legal framework


    The legal framework in Ethiopia restricts the enjoyment of civil and political rights, and therefore the activity of the political opposition, civil society, and independent media in the country.
     
    The Charities and Societies Proclamation (2009) caps foreign funding at 10% for non-governmental organisations working on human rights, good governance, justice, rule of law and conflict resolution. The law has decimated civil society and human rights activism in the country. Currently, a handful of independent human rights organisations continue to operate, but with great difficulty.
     
    The Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (2009) has been used repeatedly to silence critical voices. Political opposition party leaders and members, people involved in public protests, religious freedom advocates and journalists have been arrested and charged under this law. Both laws are a matter of great concern and have been repeatedly raised in international forums, including at Ethiopia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2014.
     
    Overarching restrictions under the State of Emergency

    The State of Emergency directives restrict the organisation of political campaigns, demonstrations, and any communication that may cause “public disturbance.” It also bans communications with foreign governments and NGOs that may undermine ‘national sovereignty, constitutional order and security’, and the right to disseminate information through traditional and social media. Additionally, the Command Post was given sweeping powers to arbitrarily arrest and detain individuals without due process.
     
    A few weeks before the State of Emergency was extended by an additional four months, the government announced it was lifting some of these restrictions, including the Command Post’s power to arbitrarily arrest people or conduct property searches without warrants, curfews, and certain restrictions regarding sharing of information online and offline.
     
    Despite some improvements in internet access since mobile data services were restored throughout parts of the country on 2 December 2016, social media platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter remain inaccessible except through VPNs.

    Mass arrests

    Since the declaration of the State of Emergency, the Command Post announced that tens of thousands have been arbitrarily arrested and transported to different detention centers throughout the country. Most of the detainees were held for a period of around three months in Awash, Alage, Bir Sheleko, and Tolay police and military camps. In November 2016, authorities announced the release of 11,607 people who were detained under the State of Emergency following “rehabilitation training programs.” One month later, authorities announced they were releasing an additional 9,800 detainees.  Former detainees have reported being subjected to torture, harsh prison conditions, and other forms of ill treatment. In late March 2017, the Command Post announced through state media that 4,996 of the 26,130 people detained for allegedly taking part in protests would be brought to court.

    Continued targeting of the political opposition, the media and civil society

    According to the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, three of Ethiopia’s main opposition parties, the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ), Blue Party, and All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP) have claimed that a large number of their members were targeted by Command Post and arbitrarily arrested.

    On 30 October 2016, Dr. Merera Gudina, a professor and prominent opposition leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress was arrested after his return from Brussels where he provided testimony on the current political crisis to some members of the European Parliament and described human rights violations being committed in Ethiopia. On 3 March 2017, prosecutors formally charged Dr. Merera with a bid to "dismantle or disrupt social, economic and political activity for political, religious and ideological aim [...] under the guise of political party leadership". Dr. Merera was also accused of meeting with an organisation designated as a terrorist group contravening restrictions contained in the State of Emergency directives.

    Members of the Wolqait Identity Committee, including Colonel Demeqe Zewude, have also faced allegedly politically motivated criminal charges under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. Their attempted arrest sparked protests in the Amhara capital of Gondar in August 2016.

    On 18 November 2016, journalists Elias Gebru and Ananiya Sori were arrested by security forces, according to the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia. Both were reportedly arrested in relation to their criticism of government policies and actions. Ananiya was released on 13 March 2017. At the time of writing, Elias is still being held in prison without due process of law.

    On 6 April 2017, Ethiopia’s Supreme Court ruled that two bloggers from the Zone 9 collective previously acquitted of terrorism charge should be tried instead on charges of inciting violence through their writing. If convicted of the charge, Atnaf Berhane and Natnael Feleke would face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. The court also upheld the lower court’s acquittal of two other Zone 9 bloggers, Soleyana S Gebremichael and Abel Wabella.

    See additional assessment:

    Civic Space in Ethiopia is rated as ‘Closed’ by the CIVICUS Monitor.

     

  • Le Royaume-Uni répond aux questions posées par les membres de CIVICUS sur le Conseil de sécurité

    Durant les consultations du mois d’août de la présidence du Conseil de sécurité avec la société civile, la Mission permanente du Royaume-Uni auprès de l’Organisation des Nations Unies a répondu aux questions soumises par les membres de CIVICUS concernant les situations sécuritaires en République Démocratique du Congo, Érythrée-Éthiopie, Gaza et Myanmar.


    La société civile joue un rôle important dans l’agenda du Conseil de sécurité et CIVICUS remercie le Royaume-Uni et tous les membres du Conseil de sécurité pour leur engagement à impliquer la société civile dans son fonctionnement.

    Le Conseil de sécurité suit de près la situation en RDC. Dans le cadre de la résolution 2409, nous avons demandé au Secrétaire général de nous faire transmettre des rapports mensuels. Le conseil tient des discussions fréquentes sur la RDC. Le Conseil de sécurité continue de souligner à quel point il est important que les élections du 23 décembre 2018 soient tenues dans le calme, de façon crédible, inclusive et dans les temps et qu’elles respectent le calendrier électoral, menant à un transfert pacifique du pouvoir, en accord avec la constitution congolaise. Le Conseil de sécurité continue aussi d’accentuer l’importance de la protection des civils, y compris à travers le mandat de la MONUSCO qui fait de la protection des civils une priorité stratégique. Durant la présidence du Royaume-Uni, un briefing s’est tenu au Conseil de sécurité sur les élections à venir en RDC. La déclaration de l’ambassadeur se trouve ici.

    Le Conseil de sécurité a publié un communiqué concernant la signature de la déclaration conjointe de paix et d’amitié entre l’Érythrée et l’Éthiopie du 9 Juillet 2018.

    L’UNRWA (l'Office de secours et de travaux des Nations unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine dans le Proche-Orient) a été établi et reçoit son mandat de l‘assemblée générale de l’ONU. La possibilité qu’elle doive suspendre ses services à cause de sa mauvaise situation financière préoccupe énormément les membres du Conseil de sécurité, comme cela a été exprimé durant les consultations du conseil du 22 août sur la situation au Moyen-Orient. Le Royaume-Uni reste fortement engagé dans son soutien à l’UNRWA et aux réfugiés palestiniens à travers le Moyen-Orient. Face à des pressions financières de plus en plus fortes, le Royaume-Uni a versé environ 60 millions de dollars en 2018. Nous continuons d’encourager d’autres à verser des financements additionnels et à effectuer des versements réguliers pour assurer que l’UNRWA puisse continuer son travail essentiel.
     
    Le Conseil de sécurité suit avec beaucoup de préoccupation la situation à Gaza, y compris à travers des briefings réguliers, comme par exemple celui du 22 août par la Secrétaire générale adjointe Rosemary DiCarlo.

    Sur le long-terme, le Royaume-Uni a pour but ultime le retour sans danger, volontaire et avec dignité du million de réfugiés Rohingyas, actuellement au Bangladesh, vers l’Etat Rakhine sous la surveillance internationale. Nous estimons que les conditions actuelles ne sont pas suffisantes pour que les réfugiés y retournent. Nous soutiendrons la Birmanie pour y arriver, mais une amélioration concrète des conditions sur le terrain est nécessaire. Dans l’immédiat, la Birmanie devrait donner à l’ONU un accès sans restriction à l’Etat du Nord-Rakhine. L’ONU s’est réjouie de la déclaration du gouvernement birman annonçant la mise en place d’une commission d’enquête sur les violences commises dans l’Etat Rakhine. Il est à présent essentiel que le gouvernement birman démontre comment l’enquête sera crédible, transparente et impartiale. Nous sommes toujours en attente d’une décision de la CPI concernant sa compétence à juger des déportations des Rohingyas au Bangladesh (qui est un état signataire du statut de Rome).

    D’autres questions soumises par les membres de CIVICUS ce mois concernent les libertés civiques en Colombie, le retrait des troupes de l’UNAMID au Darfur, l’insécurité alimentaire au Sahel, la relocalisation de l’Ambassade des États-Unis d’Amérique à Jérusalem, la détérioration de l’espace civique en Ouganda, le cas du dirigeant Soudanais, Omar Al Bashir auprès de la Cour Pénale Internationale et la menace globale du cyber crime.

    Ces questions-réponses résultent d’un appel mensuel auprès des membres CIVICUS de soumettre leurs questions au président du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies. Il s’agit d’une opportunité pour nos membres d’être reliés à un forum international important où des décisions sont prises. Les employés de CIVICUS posent les questions au nom de nos membres durant le briefing du président tous les mois. Tenez-vous informé en devenant membre de CIVICUS.

     

  • New Law will cripple Ethiopian civil society

    28 January 2009- Despite severe criticism from donors, civil society and foreign governments, on 6 January 2009, the Ethiopian Parliament passed a controversial law restricting the activities and funding for civil society organisations (CSOs).

    "The Law will have a crippling effect on civil society inEthiopia. We are deeply disappointed that Parliament has passed this regressive law which undermines democratic values and the people ofEthiopia",said Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation.

    The law, "Proclamation for the Registration and Regulation of Charities and Societies", will prevent CSOs from taking part in democracy building initiatives and acting as a check and balance against human rights abuses. Key provisions of the law infringe upon freedom of association guarantees in the Constitution of Ethiopia, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People's Rights by:

     

    • Limiting CSOs that receive essential funds from abroad to a mere service delivery role through prohibitionsfrom working on key areas including advancement of human and democratic rights, gender equality, conflict resolution and accountability of law enforcement agencies;
    • Allowing wide executive discretion to refuse registration to CSOs and  curb their activities.
    • Clamping down on the independence of CSOs through provisions that permit institution of inquiries on unspecified grounds, allow removal of CSO officers and require advance notification of meetings;
    • Subjecting CSOs to strict official control through exhaustive reporting requirements, mandatory license renewals every three years and an arbitrary cap of 30% on administrative expenses; and
    • Discouraging CSO activities through harsh fines and strict punishments for administrative lapses.


    CIVICUS has closely followed and critiqued drafts of the law before its final passage in Parliament. Sadly, the concerns outlined by CIVICUS and other CSOs have been ignored by the Ethiopian government. CIVICUS submissions on successive drafts have emphasised that any regulatory mechanism for civil society must be underpinned by legislation that is equitable, just and fair. The current law substantially fails this test.

    Note to the Editor
    For more information, please contact Mandeep Tiwana, Civil Society Watch Officer at

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    or Julie Middleton, Civil Society Watch Acting Manager at

    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    .

     

  • Statement on Ethiopia’s noncompliance with UN human rights evaluation

    35th session UN Human Rights Council
    General Debate – Ethiopia’s noncompliance with UN Special Rapporteurs
    16 June 2017

    CIVICUS welcomes the Communication report of Special Procedures, which sheds light on the breadth of work undertaken by this unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council.

    We refer in this context to the ‘Communications’ report by the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of peaceful assembly and association. We note that there has been an average 50% response rate from governments on alerts and other communications. However, Ethiopia has shown a total no-response to the numerous stand alone or joint alerts they received during the period of reporting. We reiterate our grave concerns voiced also by other independent experts of the United Nations in relation to the violent crackdown on peaceful protests, which reportedly led to the death of over 800 people since November 2015 in Ethiopia. We remain extremely alarmed by numerous reports that those arrested had faced torture and ill-treatment in military detention centers. 

    We also reiterate our worry regarding the Proclamation on Anti-Terrorism and Charities and Societies Law adopted in August 2009. The extremely broad and ambiguous provisions of the laws   continue to be used to silence independent voices and civil society groups.

    Finally, we urge the government of Ethiopia to head the calls to end the state of emergency declared on 9 October 2016. The state of emergency decree provides for a wide range of repressive measures, undermining the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, including banning communications with governments and CSOs that may undermine ‘national sovereignty, constitutional order and security’.

    We call on the Government as a member of the Council to fully cooperate with the mandates of Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.

     

  • Statement: Civil society rights violations on a global scale

    35th session UN Human Rights Council
    General Debate
    20 June 2017

     

    In Egypt CIVICUS expresses its serious concern over the issuance of Law 70 of 2017 which further restricts space for human rights monitoring, advocacy and reporting. It introduces hefty fines and prison terms for civil society groups who publish a study or report without prior approval by the government, thus shutting out completely the independent voice and action of human rights organizations.  

    We urge the Egyptian authorities to repeal this Law, end the ongoing criminal investigation into the work of human rights defenders and create a safe and enabling environment for civil society free from reprisals.

    CIVICUS condemns in the strongest terms the recent killings of five peaceful protesters on 23 May in Bahrainand asks for an independent, impartial investigation. We further deplore the escalation in government reprisals against Bahraini civil society, including those living in exile for their cooperation with the United Nations and this Human Rights Council. We urge the Bahraini government to release all political prisoners and human rights defenders from their degrading, torturous detention, including prominent defender Nabeel Rajab. 

    In Cameroon, the government has imposed gross restriction on the rights to free speech and assembly. Beginning on 17 January 2017, the Government blocked all access to the internet in the sections of the North and Southwest regions in a blatant attempt to suppress widespread protests against government policies marginalizing the English-speaking population.  While the recent precipitous decline in respect for ongoing human rights violations has garnered some international attention, CIVICUS asks the Council for more robust scrutiny to prevent further human rights violations and restore fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly.

    Finally, CIVICUS continues to urge the government of Ethiopia to allow access to an international, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into the deaths resulting from excessive use of force by the security forces and other violations of human rights in the context of last year’s protests. 
     

     

  • United Kingdom responds to CIVICUS members’ Security Council questions

    Karen Pierce, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the UN, addresses the Security Council. Credit: UN Photo/Loey Felipe

    French | Spanish

    As part of its consultations with civil society during its Presidency of the Security Council for the month of August, the United Kingdom’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations responded to questions submitted by CIVICUS members on the security situations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Gaza and Myanmar.

    Civil society play an important role in the Security Council’s agenda and CIVICUS thanks the United Kingdom and all members of the Security Council for their ongoing commitment to involving civil society in the council’s workings.


    Democratic Republic of Congo

    Seven questions were submitted from civil society in the Democratic Republic of Congo reflecting a high level of concern about the security situation there in the lead up to elections in December. Members asked if the Council is monitoring the current situation as well as how the Council plans to prevent deaths during the upcoming elections.

    The Security Council is monitoring the situation in DRC closely.  In resolution 2409 we asked the Secretary General to provide us with 30 day reports.  The Council also discusses the DRC frequently. The Security Council continues to underline the importance of peaceful, credible, inclusive and timely elections on 23 December 2018, in line with the electoral calendar, leading to a peaceful transfer of power, in accordance with the Congolese Constitution.  The Security Council also continues to stress the importance of protecting civilians, including through the mandate for MONUSCO which includes the protection of civilians as a strategic priority. During the UK Presidency, there was a Security Council briefing on the DRC, focusing on the upcoming elections. The Ambassador’s statement can be found here.

    Eritrea-Ethiopia

    A question on Eritrean-Ethiopian relations noted that the relationship has begun to normalise and improve rapidly. While there is no doubt that international and regional efforts have played a role in this improvement it is remarkable that there has been a push for an improvement of human rights and the democratic situation on the Ethiopian side but that the same has not been extended to Eritrea. Does the Security Council now plan to push to improve the human rights situation in Eritrea?

    The Security Council issued a statement on the Signing of Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship between Eritrea and Ethiopia on 9 July 2018.

    Gaza

    Palestinian Consultative Staff for Developing NGOs, from the West Bank asked about why the Council is reducing UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) services, especially to children, women and elderly people. They also asked if the Security Council would consider visiting Gaza.

    UNRWA was established and is mandated by the UN General Assembly.  The possibility of service suspension due to UNRWA’s current financial shortfall is a matter of grave concern to members of the Security Council; as was expressed during the 22 August Council consultations on the situation in the Middle East.

    The UK remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA and Palestinian refugees across the Middle East. In the face of growing financial pressures, the UK has provided approximately $60 million USD in 2018. We continue to urge others to provide additional funding and regular disbursements to ensure that UNRWA can continue its essential work.

    The Security Council is following closely and with concern the situation in Gaza, including through regular briefings such as that provided to the Council on 22 August by Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo.

    Myanmar

    Maisaa Alamoodi a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia asked if the Council would consider imposing sanctions on the Government of Myanmar if it continues to abuse the rights of the Rohingya and prevent their safe return home.

    The UK’s overriding long term aim is the safe, voluntary and dignified return to Rakhine, under international monitoring, of as many as possible of the million Rohingya refugees currently in Bangladesh. We currently do not deem the conditions are right for the refugees to return. We will support Burma to do this, but it needs to make tangible improvements on the ground. Most immediately, Burma should allow the UN unfettered access to northern Rakhine.  

    The UK has welcomed Burma’s announcement of a Commission of Inquiry into the violence in Rakhine. It is now essential that the Burmese government now sets out how the investigation will be credible, transparent and impartial. We are still awaiting the ICC's decision if it has jurisdiction over Rohingya deportations to Bangladesh (a Rome Statute signatory).


    Other questions received from CIVICUS members this month covered civic freedoms in Colombia, the withdrawal of UNAMID troops from Darfur, food insecurity in the Sahel, the relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, the deterioration of civic space in Uganda, Sudanese leader, Omar Al Bashir’s case in the International Criminal Court and the global threat of cyber crime.

    These question/response are the outcomes of a Monthly Call to CIVICUS members to submit their question to the President of the UN Security Council. This is an opportunity for members to connect with an important international forum where decisions are made. CIVICUS staff pose the questions on CIVICUS members’ behalf during the President’s brief each month. Stay in touch and be part of this action by joining CIVICUS as a member.

    For more information please contact Lyndal Rowlands,