Le Président |
DIFFUSION D’INFORMATION DU 9 MARS 2010.
Trois extraits du rapport
de la Rapporteuse Spéciale
des Droits de l’Homme.
L’Observatoire pour la Protection des Droits de l’Homme a transmis à la Ligue Djiboutienne des Droits Humains (LDDH) le Rapport de la Rapporteuse Spéciale de l’ONU.
La Ligue Djiboutienne des Droits Humains (LDDH) se félicite et témoigne ses remerciements à la Rapporteuse Spéciale de l’ONU pour sa Lettre d’Allégations.
Le Défenseur Djiboutien Noël Abdi Jean-Paul attend toujours la réponse de la Présidente de la Cour Suprême afin de permettre à son Avocat International du Barreau de Paris Maître TUBINA de plaider en sa faveur.
Après la main levée de la Juge d’instruction, le Défenseur Noel Abdi Jean-Paul est libre de ses déplacements et ses mouvements.
Toutefois, il attend toujours la réponse de sa demande de NON LIEU, qu’il avait demandé durant l’Enquête au Cabinet de la Juge d’Instruction, car aucune plainte ne figurait dans son dossier et n’avait pas été déposée avant son arrestation.
La Ligue Djiboutienne des Droits Humains (LDDH) s’étonne des propos, à notre avis, déplacés, lors de son intervention télévisée de dimanche 7 mars au soir.
Après deux jours d’atelier sur les Droits Economiques-Socio-Culturels ces propos ont été prononcés dans le contexte d’une campagne pour un 3ème mandat anticonstitutionnel par un certain Fennischer Représentant Régional de l’Afrique de l’Est du Haut Commissariat des Droits de l’Homme des Nations Unies.
Il est fort possible, que le Représentant Résident à Addis-Abeba n’avait pas eu le temps de s’informer sur la situation désastreuse ici en République de Djibouti en matière des Droits de l’Homme, notamment et pour exemple : lors des déroulements de l’Atelier organisé par le PNUD, les cheminots Djiboutiens ont été arrêtés et incarcérés à Nagad le Samedi 6 mars puis relâchés tard dans la nuit.
Ces mêmes Cheminots ont été repris le dimanche 7 mai 2010, alors qu’ils manifestaient pacifiquement pour obtenir trois mois d’arriérés de salaires et à cent mètres de l’Ambassade des Etats-Unis pays d’accueil des Nations Unies.
Aucune réaction diplomatique n’a été perçue jusqu’aujourd’hui car ces cheminots n’ont pas droit à la visite d’un médecin d’autant plus que certains d’entre eux sont malades.
Ils sont aux nombres de 90 Arbitrairement détenus à Nagad Force est de constater qu’il n’avait pas eu aussi le temps de s’informer de la Lettre d’Allégations de la Rapporteuse Spéciale de l’ONU, car un régime dictatorial qui s’apprête à un Coup d’Etat Constitutionnel, un régime qui ne respecte pas les Convention signé avec le BIT et l’OIT, un régime qui daigne même de répondre, ce régime ne mérite pas d’éloges d’un Haut Fonctionnaire des Nations Unies surtout en cette périodes d’une crise sociale sans précédent avec tous les risques d’une reprise d’un nouveau conflit armé.
La Ligue Djiboutienne des Droits Humains (LDDH) est sidérée par le silence du Représentant du haut Commissariat des Droits basé à Addis-Abeba, qui n’a pas eu le temps de s’inquiéter de la situation des défenseurs Djiboutiens « non étatisés » qui militent dans des conditions difficiles pour la Protection des droits de l’Homme et contre l’Impunité.
« La Rapporteuse spéciale regrette, au moment de la finalisation du présent rapport, l’absence de réponse à la communication en date du 9 avril 2009.
Elle exhorte le Gouvernement à répondre au plus vite aux craintes exprimées dans celle-ci.
Elle considère les réponses à ses communications comme partie intégrante de la coopération des gouvernements avec son mandat.»
NOEL ABDI Jean-Paul
Partie concernant Djibouti
Djibouti - Lettre d’allégations
717. Le 9 avril 2009, la Rapporteuse spéciale, conjointement avec le Rapporteur spécial sur la promotion et la protection du droit à la liberté d’opinion et d’expression, a envoyé une lettre d’allégations au Gouvernement sur la situation de M. Jean-Paul Noël Abdi, président de la Ligue Djiboutienne des droits humains (LDDH). M. Noël Abdi a été le sujet d’un appel urgent envoyé par le Rapporteur spécial sur la promotion et la protection du droit à la liberté d’opinion et d’expression et l’ancienne Représentante spéciale du Secrétaire général concernant la situation des défenseurs des droits de l'homme le 13 mars 2007.
Nous accusons réception de la réponse du Gouvernement de Votre Excellence en date du 23 mars 2007. Selon les informations reçues :
718. Le 4 avril 2009, M. Noël Abdi aurait été arrêté dans le centre-ville de Djibouti par des éléments du Service de recherche et de documentation de la gendarmerie nationale. Ceux-ci lui auraient signifié, en ne produisant aucun mandat d’arrêt, que cette arrestation était motivée par des « injures publiques à l’autorité judiciaire » que M. Noël Abdi aurait proférées dans une note d’information en date du 26 mars 2009, dans laquelle il avait dénoncé les « graves manquements de la justice Djiboutienne et en particulier son absence d’indépendance, illustrés par la non motivation et la non-rédaction de certains jugements et décisions de justice en particulier dans les procès sensibles comme celui du père Sandro ». M. Noël Abdi aurait ensuite été conduit à la
Brigade Nord de la gendarmerie de Djibouti avant d’être placé en garde à vue.
719. Le 5 avril 2009, M. Noël Abdi aurait été déféré devant le parquet en comparution immédiate et entendu par le substitut du procureur dans le cadre d’une procédure de flagrant délit.
Il aurait ensuite été interrogé par le juge d’instruction, devant lequel il aurait nié toute injure à l’autorité judiciaire, avant d’être libéré.
720. Selon les termes de la décision de l’instruction, M. Noël-Abdi serait désormais placé sous contrôle judiciaire, se verrait opposer une interdiction de sortie du territoire ainsi qu’une obligation d’émarger de façon régulière auprès du cabinet du juge d’instruction, dans l’attente de l’ouverture d’une enquête à son encontre.
721. Des craintes sont exprimées quant au fait que l’arrestation de M. Noël Abdi et son placement subséquent sous contrôle judiciaire serait liés à ses activités pacifiques de défense des droits de l’homme.
722. La Rapporteuse spéciale regrette, au moment de la finalisation du présent rapport, l’absence de réponse à la communication en date du 9 avril 2009. Elle exhorte le Gouvernement à répondre au plus vite aux craintes exprimées dans celle-ci. Elle considère les réponses à ses communications comme partie intégrante de la coopération des gouvernements avec son mandat.
Partie concernant l’Erythrée
Eritrea - Letter of allegations
787. On 12 August 2009, the Special Rapporteur, together with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, sent a letter of allegations to the Government in relation to the arrests, detention and deaths of journalists in Eritrea since 2001.
788. We would like to draw the attention of your Excellency’s Government to the fact that information regarding the alleged deaths of Mr. Seyoum Tsehaye (or Fsehaye), Mr. Dawit Habtemichael and Mr. Yusuf Mohamed Ali, as well as the detention of Mr. Medhane Tewelde (also identified as Medhane Haile), Mr. Temesghen Gebreyesus, Mr. Said Abdulkader, Mr. Emanuel Asrat and Mr. Fessehaye “Joshua” Yohannes was the subject of a letter of allegation sent to your Excellency’s Government on 29 November 2006.
. In addition, a letter of allegation regarding the death of Mr. Fessehaye “Joshua” Yohannes allegedly as a result of the treatment he had received under detention and of very harsh conditions in Dongolo prison was also sent to your Excellency’s Government on 9 March 2007. As yet a response to these letters of allegation has not been received from your Excellency’s Government.
790. According to additional information received, Mr. Said Abdulkader, Founder and Editor of Admas and former journalist with public-owned Haddas Eritrea, was arrested on 20 September 2001 and believed to have died in detention in March 2005.
791. Mr. Medhane Tewelde (or Medhane Haile), former Deputy Editor of Keste Debena, was arrested on 18 September 2001 and detained in cell no.8 in Eiraeiro Prison Camp. It has been reported that he died in February 2006, and that his body has never been handed over to his family.
792. Mr. Mattewos Habteab, Editor and co-Founder of Meqaleh, was arrested on 19 September 2001 and is currently detained in Dahlak Island Prison.
793. Mr. Dawit Isaac, owner and co-Founder of Setit, was arrested on 23 September 2001 and has been detained in an unknown location. He was allegedly moved to a hospital in February 2009 due to serious illness.
794. Mr. Temesghen Gebreyesus and Mr. Emanuel Arsat, whose information was the subject of the letter of allegation dated 29 November 2006; remain under detention in Dahlak Island Prison and Eiraeiro Prison Camp respectively.
795. It has been reported that the journalists were detained in September 2001 as a result of interviewing members of the opposition and reporting on the alleged crackdown against government critics which took place in July 2001. The licenses of all of the country’s eight independent newspapers were also reportedly withdrawn in September 2001.
796. Concern was expressed that the continued detention of the above-mentioned journalists as well as the withdrawal of the licenses of independent newspapers is a direct attempt to stifle freedom of expression in Eritrea.
797. The Special Rapporteur regrets that, at the time of the finalization of the ciurrent report, no response had been received from the Government regarding the letter of allegations sent on 12 August 2009.
The Special Rapporteur remains concerned at the large number of arrests, detention and deaths of journalists in the country since 2001 which has a serious impact on the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the functioning of an independent civil society and media.
The Special Rapporteur wishes to bring to the Government’s attention the provisions contained in the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) and in particular article 6 point b) and c) which provide that everyone has the right, individually or in association with others as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to pulish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; and to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters.
Letter of allegations
798. On 21 January 2009, the Special Rapporteur, together with the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, sent a letter of allegations to the Government, in relation to concerns about the restrictions to the effectiveness of human rights organizations in Ethiopia that may result from the adoption of the “Proclamation for the Registration and Regulation of Charities and Societies” (hereinafter: “the Proclamation”).
799. The Proclamation was the subject of an urgent appeal sent on 17 July 2008 by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. No reply has been received to date from your Excellency’s Government to the communication.
800. The Proclamation was adopted on 5 January 2009 by the Ethiopian Parliament. The adoption of the law was preceded by several months’ negotiations during which the draft was subject to amendments.
801. While we consider the stated aim to enhance the transparency and accountability of civil society organization is legitimate, we are of the opinion that the law in its current form will result
in serious restrictions on the activities of NGOs working on a host of human rights issues. The strict implementation of the Proclamation would render it nearly impossible for civil society organizations to carry out their work in Ethiopia.
802. The Proclamation establishes three categories of non-governmental organizations (referred to in the Proclamation as “charities” or “societies”): Ethiopian Charities or Societies; Ethiopian Residents Charities and Foreign Charities. Ethiopian Resident Charities are defined as those “formed under the laws of Ethiopia and which consist of members whom all dwell in
Ethiopia and who receive more than 10% of their funds form foreign country sources”.
Foreign Charities are defined under the provisions of the Proclamation as “Charities that are formed under the laws of foreign countries or which consist of members who are foreign nationals or are controlled by foreign nationals or receive funds from foreign country sources”.
As a result of these provisions, even Ethiopian NGOs formed under Ethiopian laws and consisting of Ethiopian members would not be defined as Ethiopian Charities in case they receive more than 10% of their funding from “foreign country sources”. “Income from foreign source” includes any transfer made from a foreign source, including from Ethiopians living abroad.
The consequences of the definition are serious, as Foreign and Ethiopian Resident Charities are expressly banned from carrying out any work related to: ‘the advancement of human and democratic rights’; ‘the promotion of equality of nations, nationalities and peoples and that of gender and religion’; ‘the promotion of the rights of the disabled and children’s rights’; ‘the promotion of conflict resolution or reconciliation’; ‘the promotion of the justice and law enforcement services’.
804. The Proclamation expressly bars Ethiopian NGOs which receive more than 10% of their funding from foreign sources from working on the areas listed above. It would also make any work by foreign NGOs in these fields illegal without the written consent of the Ethiopian government. Section 1.3.2 (b) namely provides that the Proclamation shall not be applicable to “international or foreign organizations operating in Ethiopia by virtue of an agreement with the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
805. The Proclamation establishes the Charities and Societies Agency (hereinafter: the Agency) with wide-ranging discretionary powers to refuse to accord legal recognition to NGOs, to disband NGOs that have already been legally recognized, and to subject NGOs to intrusive patterns of surveillance. The Agency will be governed by a Chief Director who will be nominated by the government.
The Agency will have a Charities and Societies Board (hereinafter: Board) consisting of seven members, nominated by the government.
The powers of the Agency are broad and vaguely defined. For instance, the Agency may refuse to register an NGO if “the proposed Charity or Society is likely to be used for unlawful purposes or for purposes prejudicial to public peace, welfare or the good order in Ethiopia” . In most cases the decisions of the Agency are not subject to the right of appeal. Foreign and Ethiopian Resident Charities have no right to appeal the Agency’s decisions in court.
806. All NGOs, including those already established, are required to register with the Agency within three months of their establishment. The licence shall be renewed every three years. The Agency may “from time to time institute inquiries with regard to Charities or Societies” and may, by order require the NGO or any officer or employee to furnish any information in their possession which relates to any Charity or Society” .
807. The Proclamation also prescribes criminal penalties for administrative infractions. Although the lengthy prison sentences contained in previous drafts of the law had been removed from the final Proclamation as adopted, it still contains a provision which foresees that “any person who violates the provisions of this shall be punishable in accordance with the provisions of the criminal code”. This provision is extremely vague, especially given that the previous prison sentences foreseen for violations of the Proclamation have been changed into fines.
808. Article 31 of the Ethiopian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of association “for any cause or purpose” except in cases where organizations are formed “in violation of appropriate laws” or in order to subvert the Constitution. Article 30 of the Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of assembly, and Art 29 guarantees the right to freedom of expression. All of these rights are subject to caveats articulated in the Constitution, but at the same time Art 13 requires that the rights be interpreted “in a manner conforming to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenants on Human Rights and international instruments adopted by Ethiopia”.
809. Several provisions of the Proclamation, especially those restricting the work of foreign and Ethiopian NGOs are not consistent with Art 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Ethiopia’s Constitution. Furthermore, as a UN member state, Ethiopia is required to uphold the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The Declaration, which was adopted by the General Assembly by consensus on 9 December 1998, does not contain new rights, but merely articulates existing ones so that it is easier to apply to the practical role and situation of human rights defenders.
Response from the Government
810. The Government responded in a letter dated 16 February 2009 to the communication sent on 21 January 2009. The Government confirmed that the Charities and Societies Proclamation No. 12/2009 was passed by the Parliament. Its principal objectives, as stated in the Proclamation, are ensuring citizens right to association and aiding and facilitating the role of CSOs in the overall development of the people of Ethiopia. A necessary element in implementing these objectives is ensuring transparency and accountability.
While the Government admits that the Rapporteurs basically cited provisions in the Proclamation with accuracy, it noted that it would be hard to agree with the interpretations and implications given to most of the provisions cited in the letter. Statements such as the Proclamations would restrict “effectiveness of human rights organizations”, that the Agency has “powers broad and vaguely defined”, and some of the provisions are “not consistent with Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Ethiopia’s Constitution” are some of the statements which would not accurately describe the word and spirit of the Proclamation.
811. Regarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Government does not deny the universality of the human rights enshrined in the UDHR. One way or another, and irrespective of the instrument’s formal validity, the Government considers this document to guide human rights standards and implementation in the world. The Government further believes that the two Covenants and other international (and regional) human rights instruments to most of which Ethiopia has subscribed have ensured the interpretation and concrete application of the Declaration. The Government also holds no reservations towards the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The Government recognizes the Declaration’s objectives of reiteration and calling the attention of all concerned to universaland fundamental human rights standards.
812. With regard to the 2004 report by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders (A/59/401), the Government appreciates the “encouragement” the Rapporteurs have extended towards the Government for the implementation of the recommendations on good practices on NGO regulations. While generally the Government does not object the recommendations on good practices adopted by the then
Special Representative – and as a matter of fact many of the recommendations are reflected in the new legislation, it should be stressed that the implementation of most of their commendations requires an ideal situation, which the country finds very hard.
813. For example, the recommendations require registration to be optional. In a developing country like Ethiopia, in a country where self-regulation by charities and societies is mostly nonexistent, and a country where the government has yet to devise a mechanism where charities and societies have to answer to their members, contributors and beneficiaries, it would not be easy to imagine charities and societies ride free.
Assuming that there is no requirement of registration –which in effect means no requirement of reporting on financial and administrative matters – in what ways, under the country’s present circumstances, is a charity to be accountable.
One objective of the Proclamation has been to introduce the rule of law in the formation, operation and dissolution of these organizations.
As identified by the Rapporteurs, the Proclamation aims at ensuring transparency and accountability, which were missing in the operation of the society since
the time they started operating. The only way to ensure rule of law in the operation of charities and societies in the country is registration and supervision by the Government.
814. While Ethiopian Charities are free to involve in any charitable activity, certain limitations are imposed on non-Ethiopian charities. The restricted charitable activities, listed in the Proclamation, relate to political activities, which the Government believes should not be left to foreigners and foreign funds.
The State is at the early stage of democratization.
This process of democratization has to take root in the country and its people before it is exposed to the undue influence of foreigners to the whole political system. Foreigners are normally free in the exercise of human rights in the country.
But for the exercise of political rights, natural limitations have tobe put in place if the exercise of public affairs is required to be free and the sovereignty and independence of a State and its people are to be maintained. Other activities – activities which do not affect the political system of the country and activities which overlap with the
traditional charitable activities – are identified and allowed in the Proclamation. Foreign charities and societies, without discrimination, can engage in those activities.
815. As to the Agency, ensuring accountability and transparency has been one of the motives for the issuance of the legislation. The Agency, which is entrusted with the implementation of the Proclamation, registers and recognizes charities and societies and ensures the observance of the law. In addition to supervision through inquiries and investigation of reports, the Agency may suspend or cancel CSOs that do not abide by the law.
But these powers should not lead to the assertions that the Agency has intrusive powers and that the Agency’s powers are “broad and vaguely defined”.
First of all, the Agency has to exercise its powers on the basis of the Proclamation and other laws.
The Proclamation provides clear powers and responsibilities of the Agency.
These powers given to the Agency are nothing but reasonable in light of the supervisory functions of the Agency. Second, the decisions of the Agency are appealable to the Board of Charities and Societies, which has two representatives of charities and societies as its members.
Third, Ethiopian charities and societies are also allowed to appeal to the Federal High Court.
816. In relation to the severity of punishment, “fine” is the only penalty that the Proclamation has introduced. While amount of fine is fixed considering such factors as the gravity of the offence and the ability to pay, the fines provided in the Proclamation, the Government believes, are nothing out of the ordinary. As to other forms of punishment, the Proclamation refers to the Criminal Code.
With or without reference, the Criminal Code applies to crimes and punishment without distinction of anyone including charities and societies and officers associated with them.
If persons involved in charitable activities commit crimes as defined in the Criminal Code, exclusion of criminal law from the operation of “charitable activities” would be out of reason.
817. As a federal legislation, the Proclamation is issued by the HPR. As in any democratic society, the HPR, which obtains authority from the Constitution, must abide by the Constitution and the international human rights standards zealously embraced by the Constitution. Two of the provisions that caused the concerns of the Rapporteurs are Article 19 on freedom of expression and Article 21 on peaceful assembly. However, the Government finds it hard to see how these fundamental rights are restricted by the Proclamation.
The Proclamation does not profess to regulate freedom of expression and assembly. They are regulated by separate legislations, which allow the exercise of those rights without distinction.
818. Regarding freedom of association of Article 22 of the Covenant, the Proclamation takes the “realization of citizen’s right to association” as a prime motive in enacting the Proclamation.
But still this right should be in line with the fundamentals of political rights. Should foreigners be allowed to form political organizations to exercise their right of association? Obviously the Ethiopian laws, like the laws of any other sovereign State, do not allow political association to foreigners.
This is not discrimination. Such prohibitions are associated with the sovereignty of a
country, which would be lost if foreigners got engaged in such crucial public affairs.
819. It is the Government’s firm belief that the Covenant’s reservation of public affairs to citizens (Article 25) is triggered by the traditional concern of sovereignty. Presently political activities are becoming more and more intertwined with other social and charitable activities.
Hence caution has to be exercised in allowing foreigners to carry out “charitable”activities lest the State would fall under the influence of external forces.
The issue then would be to determine the extent of freedom of association permitted to foreigners and foreign funds. In deciding this delicate matter, the Government has limited the operation of foreign charities on some charitable activities that the Government believes would substantially involve public affairs.
820. The Covenant’s rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association are the same as the Constitution’s. Compatibility with the Covenant’s provisions should be presumed to imply compatibility with the Constitution’s provisions. The Constitutions article 29 (the right of thought, opinion and expression) and article 31 (the right of assembly,
demonstration and petition) are governed by other laws such as Peaceful Demonstration and Public Political Meeting Procedure Proclamation No. 3/1991 – which is in line with the Constitution and international human rights standards ensures the right to peaceful assembly and demonstration – and the Freedom of the Mass Media and Access to Information Proclamation No. 590/2008 – which implements some aspects of the Constitution’s freedom of expression.
821. Under Article 31, which is more related to CSOs, the Constitution enshrines the freedom of association for “any cause or purpose”. But it also envisages the existence of “appropriate” laws to prohibit some organizations. The Proclamation on CSOs may be considered such a law with regard to foreign CSOs.
The appropriateness of prohibition by the Proclamation against the participation of foreign CSOs in some charitable activities should be tested in light of the rights
of participation in public affairs. Under the Constitution, participation in public affairs is reserved for citizens.
On the basis of the Government’s appreciation, the unlimited involvement of foreigners in charitable activities has in the past impaired the free exercise by citizens of their rights to participate in public affairs.
As stated before, allowing all “charitable” activities to foreigners would also expose the State to undue influence of its political system. Hence the Government has taken the legitimate measure of limiting involvement of foreigners in the political undertakings of the country.
822. Since the beginning of the Government’s desire to overhaul the legal framework for CSOs some ten years back, suggestions on the possible content of a future legislation have been gathered from stakeholders. After preparing the initial draft, the Government tabled the draft for public discussion. Before the final draft was sent to the Parliament, extensive discussions before the Council of Ministers had taken place. A number of consultative meetings with charities and societies had also been conducted. High profile consultative meetings with NGOs chaired by higher officials such as the Minister of Justice, and, even on two occasions, chaired by the Prime Minister himself, are believed to have given NGOS the opportunity to comment on the draft legislation and provide their recommendations.
On various occasions, public debate/dialogue with the participation of prominent civil societies, political parties and professionals, aired via national television, was conducted. In the HPR as well, before the passage of the Proclamation, the committee of the House had invited concerned organs especially CSOs for public hearing o ftheir views before the House.
823. Given the number of amendments made on the initial draft on the basis of
recommendations from various stakeholders, it is difficult to state the exact extent of incorporation of the views of CSOs in the final legislation.
However, the amendments made on the initial draft mostly owe themselves to the recommendations by civil society. To mention few, the penalty of imprisonment was removed from the final legislation; a third category of “Ethiopian Resident Charities and Societies” was introduced; the possibility of a police officer or an agency or other government official having had the right to attend in all meetings of CSOs was removed; two of the seven members of the Charities and Societies Board, the highest organ of the regulatory Agency, were made to be nominated from Charities and Societies themselves.
824. The Special Rapporteur wishes to thank the Government the detailed response provided regarding the “Proclamation for the Registration and Regulation of Charities and Societies”.
However, the Special Rapporteur remains concerned that the law significantly restricts the space for independent human rights activity in the country and has a profound effect on the independence of civil society.
The Special Rapporteur firmly believes that human rights activities and monitoring, including the denunciation of human rights abuses, should not be considered as political activity and restricted. In this connection, the Special Rapporteur wishes to draw the attention of the Government to the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders ((Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) which clealy states in its article 1 that “Everyone has the rights, individually and in association with others, to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”.
The provisions of the Declaration clearly refer to “everyone” and should not be construed to refer to citizens of a given country.
However, under the “Charities and Societies Law” even Ethiopian citizens are prevented from engaging in human rights activities, in case more than 10% of the budget of the non-governmental organization is received from above. Such provisions are contrary to not only the Declaration on human rights defenders, but also to relevant provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights andthe Universal Declaration of Human Rights