By Obang Metho
March 9, 2017, Washington D.C.
The undersigned civil society organizations applaud Chairman Chris Smith, and Ranking Member Karen Bass of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations for holding a hearing on Ethiopia today entitled, “Ethiopia: Democracy Under Threat.”
The hearing draws much-needed attention to the deteriorating human rights and governance situation in Ethiopia. U.S policy makers should take due note of the alarming trend in the suppression of fundamental freedoms, targeting of political opponents and dwindling of political space in Ethiopia and take measures to avert a political crisis that could impact the entire Horn of Africa region.
We urge the House of Representatives to pass House Resolution 128, supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia, which was reintroduced in February 2017 by Representatives Chris Smith, Mike Coffman, Keith Ellison, Karen Bass, Robin Kelly and Marc Veasey. This resolution is a positive first step and sends a powerful message to the Ethiopian government that it cannot continue killing and arresting citizens that express their grievances through peaceful means. The resolution condemns the killing and arbitrary arrest of protestors and calls on the Ethiopian government to conduct a full, credible and transparent investigation into the killing and excessive use of force against protestors in the Amhara and Oromia regions. It also urges the Ethiopian government to lift the state of emergency and allow the UN to conduct an independent examination of the human rights situation in Ethiopia. The resolution also calls on the U.S. Government to conduct a review of its security assistance to Ethiopia in light of recent developments, develop a comprehensive strategy to improve good governance in Ethiopia, and consider imposing Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act sanctions on perpetrators of gross human rights violations.
Today’s hearing will reiterate the concerns expressed in the resolution, further highlight the need for adopting it and put forward important recommendations for Congress and the administration. U.S. policy discussions with the Government of Ethiopia should promote national and international accountability for the egregious human rights abuses perpetrated by Ethiopian government security forces during recent protests in the Amhara and Oromia regions and the obligation of donor countries – including the U.S. – to ensure that aid given to the Government of Ethiopia is not used to suppress the legitimate demands of citizens for accountable government and inclusive representation at all levels of the political structure.
We once again express our support for this hearing and the resolution and the intent behind both, which is to focus attention on helping the Ethiopian people and the Ethiopian government find a path forward out of the deepening human rights crisis. We encourage members of the House to co-sponsor this resolution.
Ethiopia Human Rights Project
Human Rights Watch
Oromo Advocacy Alliance
Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC)