UNPO and OPRO Submit Joint Report For Universal Periodic Review At UN on Human Rights in Ethiopia
On Thursday 4 October 2018, UNPO submitted a report with the Ogaden Peoples Rights Organisation to UPR Info a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure at the Human Rights Council in the UN. This is a useful platform to engage constructively with our members' host/occupying/centre-states at an international level to address their Human Rights records. Our document in question thus raised the Human Rights issues of the past 5 years. UNPO is hopeful that the change of leadership at the top of Ethiopia will spark a discussion as to how to address these abuses and move forward with an all encompassing reform of Ethiopia's institutions.
The Human Rights situation in the past five years in Ethiopia has been serious. Numerous crises have arisen related to political opposition, not least in the Oromia and Ogaden regions that UNPO represents. Oromo youth have been at the heart of political change in the federal capital over 2018, but before this they were brutally suppressed by Federal military forces in both the capital Addis Ababa (or Finfinne in Oromo dialect) and the rest of Oromia. Meanwhile, in Ogaden, the brutal sub-regiona government and its militia violently surpressed ONLF members and civilians alike, with "Jail Ogaden" being the most striking case of Human Rights abuse, that included torture and rape as punihsments for political prisoners.
The shutting down of political space, which touches directly the right ot freedom of Assembly as a Human Right, was also brought up in the UPR. THe previous Ethiopian government's monopolisation of the media and telecoms, as well as its arrest of political prisoners, was an unacceptable development in a regime previously described as a guiding light for other countries in the region. Also worrying was the lack of effective participation of communtiy stakeholders in the tying up of oil and gas deals in Ogaden, which touches directly upon their right to self-determination enshrined in the constitution.
There has been renewed hope following the ascension of Dr Abiy Ahmed of the Oromo People's Democratic Party. His release of the Ethiopian political prisoners and treaty with the rival Oromo Liberation Front, as well as sacking of the Somali Region's leadership and engagement in discussion with the ONLF, is welcome news. Thus, UNPO is as hopeful as ever that the following reccomendations including in UPR will be considered by the new Prime Minister and leading regime in the striving for a more inclusive Ethiopian society and a democratisation of political processes at the sub-regional and centre-state level :
Continue the progress made by the new Prime Minister in releasing political prisoners on a mass scale, and suggest the removal of sub-regional actors guilty of imprisoning political opposition, and potentially look towards trying them on the basis of the legislation provided by the Ethiopian constitution and its commitments to international law.
Review the legality of sub-national police forces’ actions in the Ogaden and Oromia regions, particularly the Liyu Police, and their immediate disbanding on the basis that they do not conform to standards set out in both the Ethiopian constitution and the Treaties to which Ethiopia is a signatory.
Close all prisons in violation of the UNCAT treaties Ethiopia has ratified, and hold accountable the people responsible for the abuses committed within them.
Honour its constitutional responsibility to protect the life of its citizens in light of ethnically motivated attacks in the Oromia-Moyale border regions, and draft a plan, similar to that of the one for the Oromo Liberation Front in Oromia, to restore peace in the Somali Region.
Have a streamlined, participatory revision or repeal of the so-called Anti-Terrorism Provision of 2009, and other pieces of legislation that serve to shut down civil society and political space. Such revision would ideally include civil society actors, previously marginalised from the political dialogue.
Make efforts to reform the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission so that they are able to act as an independent actor and hold the Ethiopian executive government to account on Human Rights abuses.
Enact less severe restrictions on external funding for International Non-Governmental Organisations as well as domestic civil society actors, which remain key actors in monitoring the Human Rights situation in Ethiopia.
Make efforts to ensure that Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution, regarding self-determination, is respected when oil and gas extraction contracts are concluded with international actors. These must be reviewed by the local communities concerned then approved via a democratic process on a regional level.
You can download the report by clicking here.