Ethiopia: USA and Vatican accuse the Ethiopian government of unequal power sharing – by Ethioguardian
The United States of America today accused the Ethiopian government of favoring one ethnicity in appointing government positions. Mr. Douglas M. Griffiths, USA representative in the United Nations Human Rights Council, stated that: “Independent observers have noted…that most senior government positions are overwhelmingly represented by one ethnicity”, and recommended Ethiopia to examine and adjust the ethnic balance in government positions as the Ethiopian governments policy of Ethnic Federalism promotes. The Vatican also emphasized on the importance of a more equitable power sharing. Watch The Video (Use RealPlayer)
Holy See (The Vatican) Mr. Hubertus Matheus Van Megen
Over 50 countries forwarded questions and recommendations to the government of Ethiopia in the Universal Periodic Review, the human rights exam of the United Nations, held in Geneva today.
In response to the American criticism the Head of the Ethiopian delegation, H.E. Mr. Fisseha Yimer, Special Adviser to the Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, classified the accusation as “speculation”, “off the mark” and “wrong”. He promised the countries interested in this issue to come up with proof of the opposite.
Many participants asked questions about the infamous Charities and Societies Proclamation, The Mass Media Law and Anti terrorism Law, restrictive legislations, which are widely condemned by donors and international human rights groups.
In his introductory statement Mr. Yimer indicated that the Ethiopian population misunderstands international human rights norms, which makes it difficult for the government to implement international human rights standards in the Ethiopian society. This shows how the Ethiopian regime underestimates its own people. Knowing the amount of political prisoners, media repression and reports of violations of human rights at the moment, the Ethiopian delegation tried to cover up the dictatorial nature of the regime.
Answering questions from France on the 2005 election and its bloody aftermath, Mr. Yimer said that it was a past issue and that the outcome of the national inquiry was satisfactory. Many members of the opposition fled the country in 2005, including some members of the inquiry commission, after being harassed by Ethiopian government forces. Harassment on opposition and media freedom, raised by Australia, made Mr. Yimer laugh out loud and say: “There is no harassment!”.
Questions about the case of Birtukan Mideksa, the imprisoned leader of Ethiopia’s main opposition party, were completely ignored by the Ethiopian delegation.
Most of the countries asked access to detention centers and visits of special rapporteurs, individuals working on behalf of the United Nations who bear a specific mandate from the UN Human Rights Council, to investigate issues on arbitrary detention, extrajudicial executions, torture etcetera. In the past years, the Ethiopian government was requested to grant access to these special rapporteurs, requests which have not been granted so far. Mr.Yimer, the head of the delegation, answered saying this was not possible due to the limited capacity of the country.
The grave human rights violations committed by Ethiopian government military forces in the Somali region (Ogaden), described by Human Right Watch as genocide, were also raised by, mainly Western, countries. Mr.Yimer ignored answering these questions.
Unsurprisingly, countries benefiting from Ethiopia’s recourses, such as India and China, and most African countries, were mostly praising the Ethiopian regime for their achievements on the Millennium Development Goals and Social, Economic and Cultural Rights.
The Ethiopian delegation will present written answers to all the questions raised today, before the final report of the UPR will be adopted on Friday 11 december 2009.