Amnesty warns Ethiopia & Rwanda not to trade the rights of their peoples for growth

May 25th, 2012 Print Print Email Email

NAIROBI – Amnesty International is concerned that Rwanda and Ethiopia are overlooking their commitments to human rights for the sake of economic growth. A new report from the human rights group says the authoritarian governments of both countries have stifled the opposition and persecuted journalists.

In the past seven years, Ethiopia has sustained an 11 percent economic growth rate and substantially reduced poverty among its 83 million citizens.

The country has gone to great lengths to incorporate the United Nations Millennium Development Goals into its national policy, enforced by an authoritarian ruling party that has been in power for the last 20 years.

Amnesty Africa Program Director Erwin van der Borght says these improvements have come at a cost.

“Certainly Ethiopia has made progress in terms of its economic development, but in a way it has neglected to respect and protect civil and political rights such as the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” said van der Borght.

The Ethiopia chapter of Amnesty’s 2012 human rights report highlights key rights concerns in the country, including legislation restricting rights organizations, and the arrests of hundreds of opposition members and journalists.

Van der Borght says it is in Ethiopia’s own economic interest to loosen political restrictions.

“It’s a given that a strong opposition makes often a better government,” he said. “And if you don’t allow that space for civil society or political opposition, then in the longer term you may put at risk the progress you’ve made in terms of development and economic growth.”

Van der Borght notes that Tunisia and other North African countries rocked by the Arab Spring also had fast-growing economies before the uprisings.

Amnesty International has similar concerns for Rwanda.

The country has also experienced rapid growth in the past few years, under the firm guidance of President Paul Kagame and his party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front.

The World Bank named Rwanda among the 10 most improved economies in 2010. This year, it was ranked the third easiest place to do business in Africa this year.

The Amnesty International report on Rwanda decries what he calls arbitrary arrests and unfair convictions of government critics and the unlawful detention of journalists.
But, van der Borght says the country could improve if it finally enacted proposed reforms to reduce state control of the media.|

“You could expect some positive change,” said van der Borght. “However, if you look at the reality on the ground, we haven’t seen any significant progress yet. Individuals are still prosecuted under the same legislation that the government wants to reform. So that’s not a good sign.”

The media reform laws are making their way through the Rwandan parliament and are expected to be taken up by the senate soon.

(Source: VOA)

  1. aha!
    | #1

    This idea of bring up two autoritarian leaders, nevertheless both or one of them may be ethnocratic ruler/ethnic dictator is perplexing in the context of economic development before human rights. The contention of human rights violations by the TPLF/eprdf regime has always been a common denominator for all political parties and fronts in the armed struggle. With the prodemocracy movements, a split of CUD, however, in addition to human rights concern is the mantra of “nochange but durable democracy” in a country where economic development before democracy is the guiding principle or policy in the East Asian style, where those countries may have a totalitarian/comunistic ideology, but no ethnic and seccessionist politics and or/policies built into the constitution, whreas in Ethiopia, the TPLF/eprdf regime has ethnic federalism, secessionism and totaliarinism built into the constitution, and yet has adopted state capitalism as its economic model for economic development instead of free market capitalism and democracy and yet has violated its own constitution with respect to universal declaratiton of human rights and press freedom as well as individual freedom, liberty and equality to have precedence over ethnic and secessionist rights.

    In sum total what is prevalent in Ethiopia are humantarian, economic, political and environmental crises, perpetrated by TPLF/eprdf regime where this article cited van der Voght by VOA that Amnesty international and particulary Amnesty Africacn program contendsby saying:
    ” Certainely Ethiopia has made progress in terms of its economic development, but in a way it has neglected to respect and protect civil and political rights such as the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly”, does not in any reflect in anyway an exchange of human right to economic development but rather and an implementation of ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalirianism in State Capitalism by TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprisesand cadres and foreign corporations and countries, where access to capital and land as means of production are available to TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprises and land to foreign corporations. Coaxing the TPLF/eprdf regime to implement Universal Declation of Human rights, and Press Freedom, civic and political rights in terms of political space sought by Medrek Officials in one voice with pressure brought upon USA to the current regime does not take the silent majority of Ethiopians is not a non-violent uprising to freedom, liberty and equality to supecede ethnic and seccessionist rights make, to recapture individual freedom, freemarket capitalism and democracy over autocratic and ethnocratic rule minority or majority ethnic rule, which divides the country into ethnic enclaves, devoid of free market capitalism for the silent majority of Ethiopians under ethnic fedralism, secessionism and totaliarinism, wwhich are the contentious ideologies for those with the national agenda for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Human right violetions and quest for democray are subsidiary to quest for individual freedom, liberty and equality and ratifying the constitution with respect ethnic and seccesionist politics and/0r policies as the current operating system of the government direcly and indirectly supported by the teletafi (ethnic federalist) and the loyalist (ethnic federalist) opposition parities inside and outside the parliament that not only leave ethnic fedralism, secessionism and totaliarinism in tact, but also promulgate ethnocratic rather than democratic rule on the silent majority of Ethiopians by ex-liberation fronts against oppression of nations and nationalities and their counterparts, with objectives of respect ethnic rights, human rights and to superimpose democracy over ethnocracy.

  2. aha!
    | #2

    With the government ruling under ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalirianism, supported by a new economic model of State Capitalism, where the former two items have hampered the unity and the soveregnity of of Ethiopia as well as individual freedom, liberty and equality from superceding ethnic and secessionist rights to form a democratic government and totaliarinism with its State Capitalism, instead of a commensurate free market capitalism to democracy and democratic government. Unless otherwise economic growth stipulated by the Amnesty International reflects the accumulation of wealth by TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprises and foreign corporations, there is no tangible data resulting from a survey questionaire of the silent majority of Ethiopians, whose income has been eroded by inflation, and farmers whose productivity is below subsistence level and are debt ridden on fertilsers and seeds, to say the least about its environmental impacts of human health from the drinking fertlizer polluted water, and are subjected to drought and flood incidences to substantiate 11% growth, I presume.

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