Ethiopia

UPR 33, May 14, 2019
Recommendations of Canada

Background

According to UPR Info, a non-governmental organization that tracks the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, Ethiopia received 421 recommendations, of which 290 (69%) were accepted in the first two cycles of the UPR. Canada’s previous recommendations were mostly related to human rights violations by state agents, justice, enforced disappearances, sexual orientation, and torture.

Since his appointment as Prime Minister of Ethiopia in April 2018, Abiy Ahmed has responded to popular demands for democracy by pursuing significant reforms to open political space, liberalize the economy, increase media freedom, and ensure the independence of the judiciary. This has included the formation of a gender-balanced cabinet, the creation of a Legal and Justice Affairs Reform Council which has reviewed restrictive legislation, resulting in amendments to the Charities and Societies Proclamation in March 2019 which removed the funding restrictions for Ethiopian civil society organizations working on human rights issues. Efforts are ongoing to reform the Anti-Terror Proclamation, and the Media and Electoral Laws, which have been criticised for restricting political space and limiting freedom of expression.  

While the opening of political space has ushered in a wave of national optimism, it has also stoked long-standing grievances between ethnic groups, leading to the internal displacement of more than two million people who lack access to adequate food and safe water. Government efforts to address this humanitarian crisis have been largely unsuccessful, though its ability to coordinate responses to widespread chronic and frequent drought-induced food insecurity, with international financial assistance, remains strong. Furthermore, its long-standing open border policy and recent adoption of a progressive law governing the rights of the more than 900,000 refugees currently sheltering in Ethiopia make it an example for the region.

Ethiopia has made advancements in increasing primary education for women and girls, but increased efforts are needed in secondary levels. For example, 26% of girls age 9-13 are not in school for a number of reasons, including the prevalence of early and forced marriage; 20% of girls are married by the age of 15 and 40% by the age of 18. These statistics are among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.

Recommendations

Thank you, Mr. President.

Canada commends the steps taken by the Government of Ethiopia since its last review to improve respect for human rights.

Canada recommends that Ethiopia:

  1. Accelerate the pace of reforms to ensure the independence of the judiciary and amend restrictive legislation, including the Anti-Terror Proclamation, as well as Media and Electoral Laws, in line with international standards.
  2. Improve access and remove barriers to education for women and girls to improve health outcomes and reduce poverty.
  3. Strengthen the mandate and ensure the independence of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.
  4. Continue to address the drivers of intercommunal conflict and guarantee that conflict-displaced populations are not returned home until it is safe.

Canada welcomes the new law governing civil society organizations, increasing respect in the human rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association. This will allow these organizations to play a greater role in advancing sustainable development.

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