European Parliament attacks Ethiopian government’s stance on human rights – European Parliament

June 5th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

The lack of democracy and the large-scale human rights violations in Ethiopia were condemned by MEPs on Tuesday at a hearing held by the EP’s Development Committee and the Human Rights Subcommittee. (more…)

The lack of democracy and the large-scale human rights violations in Ethiopia were condemned by MEPs on Tuesday at a hearing held by the EP’s Development Committee and the Human Rights Subcommittee. The Ethiopian Government’s refusal to send a representative to speak to MEPs was also criticised.

“The human rights situation has deteriorated since 2005 with the imprisonment of members of the opposition and human rights defenders who still await trial”, said Josep Borrell (PES, ES), chair of the Development Committee, at the start of the meeting.

The former President of the European Parliament expressed disappointment at the refusal to attend the meeting by the ambassador of Ethiopia to the EU, Ato Berhane Gebre-Christos. In a letter addressed to MEPs, the Ethiopian foreign minister stated that the invitation could not be accepted, partly because “the list of invited speakers to this hearing does not indicate any intention to try and reach a balanced or accurate assessment of the stage of democratisation in Ethiopia today”.

Referring to the parliamentary elections of May 2005, which were marred by fraud, the chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee, Hélène Flautre (Greens/EFA, FR), emphasised “the importance of envisaging follow-ups to election observations”. “By acting as if there was nothing wrong, we strip the European Union’s policy in this area of all credibility”, she said.

Judge Woldemichael Meshesha Damtto, former vice-chair of the commission of inquiry set up following the protests which took place in June and October 2005 against the election results, said the members of the commission had been pressed by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to alter their findings. “The civilians used no weapons, the forces used excessive violence, 193 people were killed, 760 were injured and 20,000 were arrested and held in military camps”, he said. These claims were backed up by Mulualem Tarekegn, an opposition figure and former member of the Ethiopian Parliament, who today lives under international protection in Sweden.

In an urgent resolution adopted in November 2006 in Strasbourg, the EP called on the Ethiopian Government “to publish unamended and in its entirety, and without any further delay, the final report of the Commission of Inquiry”.

Ana Gomes (PES, PT), who led the EP election monitoring mission for the 2005 parliamentary elections and is attacked by name in the letter from the Ethiopian foreign ministry, said she was accustomed to the attitude of the Ethiopian authorities, who attacked her personally instead of taking notice of the EU observers’ findings. “The attitude of the present government, which is violating the human rights and the aspirations to democracy of its people, and the behaviour of the Ethiopians in Somalia, who are committing atrocities, are a disgrace”, she said.

“Droits de l’homme et démocratisation en Ethiopie: situation actuelle et perspectives “, audition conjointe de la commission du développement et de la sous-commission des droits de l’homme

05/06/2007
Committee on Development
Chair : Josep Borrell Fontelles (PES, ES)
05/06/2007
Subcommittee on Human Rights
Hélène Flautre (Greens/EFA, FR)

REF.: 20070605IPR07478

Contact:
Thomas Dudrap
Press Service
E-mail address : deve-press@europarl.europa.eu
Telephone number in Brussels : +32 2 284 45 24 (BXL)
Mobile number : +32 4 98 98 32 84

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