Report – EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT Committee on Development
PDF Version of the Report
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT Committee on Development (2004 – 2009)
November 11, 2008
of the fact-finding mission of a Delegation of the Development Committee of the European Parliament to the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia) (25 October-2 November 2008)
Mr Alain Hutchinson (PES – Belgium), head of delegation
Mr Filip Kaczmarek (PPE – Poland)
Mr Mikel Irujo Amezaga (Greens – Spain)
Following a request from the Development Committee for a fact-finding mission to the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia), the Bureau authorised the visit on 7 July 2008. The President authorised an extension of the mission, due to difficult flight connections, in a letter dated21 August 2008. The delegation was composed of three Members of the Development Committee: Chair of the Delegation – Alain HUTCHINSON (PES – Belgium), Mikel IRUJO AMEZAGA (Greens – Spain) and Filip KACZMARK (EPP-ED – Poland).
The fact finding mission was tasked to focus on peace, sustainable development and good governance in the regional context and the possible role the EU can play in supporting this process. In light of the global crisis caused by soaring food prices, the delegation also examined the challenges in the area of food security and rural development.
The Delegation expresses its particular thanks to the Ambassadors in Brussels and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia as well as the Commission Delegations in Asmara, Djibouti, Sana’a and Addis Ababa for their significant support in the preparation of the programme and for facilitating the successful undertaking of the mission.
1. Peace and Security in the Horn of Africa
Ethiopia-Eritrea – Border Conflict
In December 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea ended a two year war by signing the internationally brokered “Algiers Agreements”, providing for a UN peace-keeping operation mission (UNMEE) and the setting up of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission (EEBC). The EEBC decided on the delimitation of the border in 2002, attributing the contested village Badme to Eritrea. The decision was immediately accepted by Eritrea, but initially rejected by Ethiopia. Ethiopia later accepted the decision, but insisted on a dialogue about the implementation of the border decision. After several years of unsuccessful attempts to negotiate with both parties and to go ahead with physical border demarcation, the EEBC dissolved itself in November 2007, leaving a set of geographical coordinates and a map as “virtual demarcation”. Following serious pressures from Eritrea to re-deploy UNMEE from the demilitarisation zone, the UN Security Council decided in July 2008 to conclude the UNMEE mandate as from 31 July 2008. Today, estimates suggest that Eritrea and Ethiopia maintain 124,000 and 100,000 troops respectively along the border.
The EP delegation discussed the current situation and assessment of the border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea with representatives from both governments, including the President of Eritrea and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. The meetings confirmed a great deal of mistrust between both governments, and very firm positions with regard to the sequence for overcoming the stalemate (Eritrea: demarcation first; Ethiopia: dialogue first). Both sides claimed that the other one was not interested in a peaceful coexistence.
The Eritrean government underlined the high importance they attach to the implementation of the Algiers peace agreement without any preconditions and the need for Ethiopian troops to fully retreat from Eritrean territory. They underlined the responsibility of the international community, including the EU, to guarantee the implementation of the agreement and to use instruments under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, if necessary, to enforce it. Interlocutors admitted that the unsolved conflict binds manpower and resources which are desperately needed for the development of the country.
The Ethiopian government stated that it had fully accepted the delimitation decision, but insisted that the demarcation must go together with a dialogue about the practical implementation (referring to problems such as the border cutting through villages and cemeteries) and must be linked to the normalisation of the relationship as well as guarantees for peace. For Ethiopia, it is particularly crucial to reopen the border for trade and access to the Assab port in Eritrea.
Eritrea – Djibouti border conflict
During the period of preparation of the fact-finding mission (in June 2008), violence escalated at the border between Eritrea and Djibouti in Ras Doumeira, which resulted in 35 fatalities and dozens wounded. Several fact-finding missions from international organisations, including from the UN, have looked into the clash, but none was allowed entry to Eritrea. The United Nations Security Council issued a presidential statement on 12 June 2008 calling on both sides to commit to a ceasefire and to withdraw troops to the status quo ante. The contested border area could be strategic for control of sea traffic (Ras Doumeira being situated at one of the narrowest points of the Red Sea). Eritrea also claimed that Ethiopia had set up a new military camp on mount Musa Ali on a border junction between the three countries (Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia). The current situation is calm, but given the closeness of the troops there is a risk of escalation, and the resources bound by the status quo is a heavy burden, particularly for Djibouti. France, which has a military basis and a defence agreement with Djibouti, has come in with logistical and military support. It has to be assumed that Ethiopia would also get involved on the side of Djibouti should the conflict escalate further, as Ethiopia depends on Djibouti for access to the sea.
The Eritrean government minimised the incident at the border and accused the international community, particularly the US, of fabricating a conflict. The President of Eritrea said he had not instructed any military action and that no Eritrean soldier had crossed the border. According to the Eritrean side, heavy equipment had been moved to build a road and it was Djiboutian troops which attacked first. The Government criticised France for accusing Eritrea in the Security Council on 23 October, while generally the French presence in Djibouti was described as a factor of stability.
The Djibouti authorities stated that they had been taken by complete surprise by the border incidents, as relations with Eritrea had been calm in the past. All Djiboutian interlocutors underlined the will to use diplomatic means for solving the problem. They explained that the fighting had started after Eritrean deserters had crossed the border and Djibouti had rejected to return them. After an Eritrean ultimatum had passed, Djiboutian soldiers had been attacked “during prayer time”. The ICRC is currently in negotiations to ascertain the presence of Djiboutian prisoners of war in Eritrea, but has already been granted access to Eritrean prisoners in Djibouti.
Somalia and Sudan
While originally not a focus of the fact-finding mission, the situation in Somalia and Sudan were raised as issues of great concern in all countries visited. The terrorist bomb attack on the Ethiopian Consulate and UN offices in Somaliland’s capital Hargeysa on 29 October, for which radial Islamic militias claimed responsibility, heightened fears, particularly in Djibouti, that the conflict could spread towards the North. On the other hand, some positive developments were noted in the Somali peace process following the Djibouti agreement of June 2008, which to jeopardize was considered one reason for the terrorist attack.
On 26 October, another agreement was adopted in Djibouti between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the moderate elements of the opposition, the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS), including modalities for the ceasefire and the relocation of Ethiopian troops. IGAD, at a conference on 29 October in Nairobi with representatives of the Transitional Federal Institutions and Members of the Transitional Federal Parliament, adopted a seven-point plan for supporting the peace process in Somalia and established a mechanism for monitoring implementation. The common position of the regional neighbours and their strong support for the Djibouti agreement was described by several interlocutors, in particular in Ethiopia, as a significant step. It was also described as vital, however, that a UN stabilization force be deployed to back the African Union peacekeepers. Should the peace process not progress until the end of the year, Ethiopia announced the immediate withdrawal of its troops.
Piracy is another major security challenge for the Horn region. The French military presence in Djibouti, the largest overseas naval base of France, has an important role for developing response strategies, including escorts for ships.
Sudan was described by some interlocutors as THE major risk factor in the Horn region. The failure of implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the North and the South could lead to secession, likely to be accompanied by military conflict over the oil shares in the border region. The secession would most likely lead to a total break up of the country, with Darfur and the Eastern part seeking independence and inter-ethnic fighting, further fuelled by involvement of neighbouring countries, including Eritrea.
2. Food security and EU development cooperation
Since the interruption of the democratisation process in 2001, EC cooperation with Eritrea has been confronted with major political and technical difficulties. Cooperation was frozen for several years in reaction to the expulsion of the Italian Ambassador, which led to a certain backlog with the 9th EDF funds. Technical hurdles include the limited number of private enterprises able to participate in tenders, restricted access for consultants and even EC staff to projects, and bureaucratic delays. As of 25 September 2008, only half of the 9th EDF had been contracted and 25 percent had been paid.
Recently, efforts have been made to reinvigorate the cooperation and proceed with contracting of outstanding EDF funds. A political dialogue has begun, to be evaluated by the end of 2008. The negotiations over the CSP for the 10th EDF have been nearly concluded, although the document had not yet been signed when the fact finding mission visited Eritrea. The total aid budget is 122 mio Euro. The focal sectors foreseen for the 2008-2013 period include food security and infrastructure. In addition, the EU is to support the justice sector and capacity building for public administration as well as rehabilitation of cultural goods under non-focal sectors.
As reflected in the CSP, the Government of Eritrea (GoE) has put a major focus on food security. The delegation witnessed major efforts in water management projects to increase agricultural production and achieve independence from increasingly erratic rainfalls. Soil protection and fight against deforestation are other important intervention areas, including through the government’s initiative of providing all households with improved, energy saving stoves by 2010. The interlocutors admitted that military service, although formally to last 18 months, often extends over decades, reducing both the active workforce and the individual freedom and choices of the citizens.
Via the “Cash for Work Programme”, citizens contribute to the public works – such as the building of dams – against payments from the government. While this scheme was described as being voluntary, there is a risk of people being forced to work for the government in order to ensure they can earn their living.
One of the major problems for development cooperation is the lack of exact data about the actual status of food insecurity. A planned food needs assessment by the FAO had been blocked, while a nutritional survey planned by UNICEF has been postponed. UN work was also impeded by insufficient fuel supply, rendering field work extremely difficult. The WFP has not been operational in the country, following a clash over the food aid policy of the country and the seizure of WFP stocks by the government in 2006. The work of international NGOs has been severely restricted by the NGO proclamation of 2005, leaving only seven international NGOs active in the country, and only one local NGO being registered under the proclamation.
While there are no independent verifications for reports about “silent famine” and extreme malnutrition, several indicators suggest the risk of a humanitarian crisis as in other Horn of Africa countries. Food subsistence has been down from about 70-75 percent in 2007 to 30-35 percent this year due to the drought. Given the high food and fuel prices (Eritrea being 100 percent dependent on oil imports) and the weakness of the economy, it is unclear how additional food imports can be financed. After 60 days of overdue payment of debt obligations, the World Bank had to suspend the payment of new credits end of October 2008 for the first time.
While also in other sectors reliable data are lacking, UN estimations suggest considerable progress in the health sector, including for example the probability of MDGs on child mortality and on HIV/AIDs, malaria and other diseases to be met. Only 2 percent of the GDP are spent on health, however, and human resources in the health sector are insufficient. Major investments are being made, with the support of the EC, in education (based on the Education Sector Development Programme) and institutional capacity building (through the Eritrean Centre for Organisational Excellence). While the delegation noted and acknowledged the strong will of the Eritrean government to avoid any dependence from international donors, many interlocutors explicitly called on the EU to provide financial support for the development strategies and projects.
The Djiboutian authorities acknowledged significant improvements in the cooperation with the EU and particularly welcomed the efforts of the EC delegation. The 9th EDF has now been completely committed. Under the A-Envelope of the 10th EDF an allocation of 40.5 mio Euro is foreseen, 85 percent of which is concentrated on the focal sector “water, sanitation and energy”.
Due to the short stay in Djibouti, the delegation did not visit any projects related to food security, but the exchanges with government authorities, NGOs and UN confirmed dramatic challenges. The food security situation is alarming in all of Djibouti’s livelihood zones due to four consecutive poor rainy seasons and high food prices. The loss of livestock due to the drought is estimated at 50-70 percent. Urban households suffer from high staple food prices which rose by 15 percent between May and October 2008. DG ECHO intends to provide emergency food aid assistance to 150.000 beneficiaries in Djibouti. The Government of Djibouti waived the customs tax on several food commodities, which has led to a significant decrease of government revenue. The government tries to boost production, investing amongst others, in improved water management and microcredit for farmers. Djibouti is also harvesting in neighbouring countries (Sudan and Ethiopia). Poverty reduction and creation of employment (current unemployment rate of 60 percent) also remain major challenges. Improving the conditions for private business and thus employment could contribute to better distribution of the fairly high per capita GDP (880 USD in 2007).
Under the 10th EDF, Ethiopia has been allocated 644 mio Euro in programmable funds. The focal sectors are transport and regional integration, rural development and food security and macro-economic support and governance. The Commission works closely with civil society and non-governmental organisations, which expressed their great satisfaction with the cooperation.
Ethiopia has seen remarkable growth of around 9-11 percent over the last years, with agriculture remaining a key sector (46.3 percent of the GDP in 2006/2007). The Government’s agricultural strategy focuses on investment in technology, improved seeds and fertilisers, as well as capacity building. Efforts to diversification of the economy have resulted in the decrease of the proportion of coffee exports from 67 to 36 percent of total export revenues (in 2006/2007).
Policies for reaching the MDG targets are enshrined in the Ethiopian Poverty Reduction Strategy, the “Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty in Ethiopia” (PASDEP). Significant progress in key human development indicators has been attained. For example, primary school enrolment has steadily increased since 2002, reaching a gross enrolment rate for the primary cycle (class 1-8) of 91.7 percent in 2006/2007, according to official statistics. However, significant disparities between regions exist. Under 5 child mortality has been reduced from 167/1000 in 2000/01 to 123/1000 in 2005/06. The percentage of people with an income below one dollar a day came down from 44.2 percent in 2000/01 to 36.5 percent in 2005/6. Notwithstanding, Ethiopia only ranked 169 out of 177 countries in the Human Development Index in 2007/2008. Investments are made in the health system with the aim of achieving universal primary healthcare by 2010, but lack of qualified health staff and significant brain drain in this sector still present a major difficulty. Despite a stated policy of supporting the private sector and encouraging investment, the creation of an environment conducive for private enterprise remains a major challenge, and liberalisation is hampered by the strong overlap between political and economic power.
The rising food and fuel prices have put the Ethiopian economy under pressure recently. The inflation is the second highest in the world, attributed by the government to external shocks, rising commodity prices and increasing demand linked to economic growth. Other factors mentioned to the delegation include uncontrolled public spending, the recent increase of the defence budget (after a significant reduction had been achieved between 2000 and 2007) and the high – albeit slowly decreasing – population growth rates. Despite investment in agricultural production and the creation of the Productive Safety Net Programme, Ethiopia remains highly vulnerable to food insecurity, with this year’s drought aggravating the situation. Official statistics estimate 6.4 mio people to be in need of emergency food aid. Unofficial estimates go beyond this figure and the government has been criticised of being too hesitant in admitting the full scope of the crisis and for not calling earlier for international assistance.
The Ogaden part of the Somali region is severely hit by the drought, but full establishment of facts about the humanitarian and human rights situation on the ground remains difficult. The ICRC, asked to leave the Somali region by the Ethiopian Government in 2007, has not yet returned. While other NGOs and WFP are active in the region, the government is controlling food distribution in certain areas and considerable parts of the food aid foreseen for the Somali region have not reached the beneficiaries. There has been recent progress through the introduction by the WFP in October 2008 of the ‘hubs-and-spoke’ system which is expected to improve the delivery of food aid. However, delays are still reported due to the need for military authorisation to travel in the Somali region.
3. Human rights, democracy and good governance
The situation as regards civil and political rights and democratic principles has been of great concern to the European Parliament for many years. Before their departure Members received reports about arbitrary arrests, torture and maltreatment of prisoners as well as persecution of journalists and suppression of religious freedom. The case of the G-11, former Members of Parliament and Government who were arrested in September 2001 and have since been detained incommunicado, has been raised by the EP and the Council regularly with the Eritrean authorities. The country has no elected national government and the existing one, nominated by the ruling party immediately after the independence, has not met since 2002. As the Constitution of 1997 was never implemented, the governance systems lack a clear separation of powers, with detrimental effects for the rule of law and individual freedoms. Elections have been held at regional level, but no opposition parties are allowed. Progress has been made, however, in advancing women’s rights, with – for example – the ban on Female Genital Mutilation and a 30 percent quota for women in regional assemblies.
The ICRC has no access to the prisons in the country, only to Ethiopian prisoners of war. To compare reports about the situation in prisons with the reality on the ground, the Members of the delegation requested a visit to a detention centre to be included in the programme, which was rejected by the authorities. The Delegation repeatedly expressed the concern of European citizens about the human rights situation in the country and welcomed the openness of the government to enter into a dialogue about these issues. Many interlocutors expressed the wish to bring an end to the extraordinary situation caused by the so-called “no-war-no-peace” situation and to restart with the Eritrean constitution. In the current situation, however, they argued that priority was given to military security and delivery on social rights (right to food, education etc). The detention of journalists and the G11 was not denied, but the formulation of “political prisoners” was rejected. The ban of certain religions was justified by the President, on the grounds that the preaching of new bibles and/or radical beliefs was a violation of the religious rights of persons belonging to other beliefs.
Members of the delegation, while acknowledging the need for a transitional phase after the war and the process character of democratic transition, underlined the need for identifying a perspective for returning to a democratic process and reinstating basic human rights in line with the international commitments of Eritrea. They were very concerned that the “no war no peace situation” was used to justify the upholding of an undemocratic regime.
As regards the justice sector, limited capacity and lack of trained legal personnel, including defence lawyers, pose major challenges. The EC plans to support capacity building and training for the Community Courts, which – in parallel to the official court system – apply customary law at the village level. The delegation was concerned about the Special Courts founded in 1994 for handling corruption cases. These courts, not under the control of the Ministry of Justice, do not allow for legal defence and foresee no right to appeal.
The delegation found that several of the issues raised by the last fact-finding mission of the Parliament (in 2004) remained a matter of concern. The majority voting system, highly unfavourable to the opposition parties, was applied during the 2008 legislative elections. The opposition boycotted the elections. Representatives of the Ruling Party stated that a dialogue with the opposition had been sought to adapt the electoral law but that the opposition was sterile and not open to dialogue. Some progress has been made in the representation of women in Parliament.
The coalition of opposition parties outside Parliament argued that they had requested a dialogue but that the government had not positively responded. The opposition also reported that during the local and regional elections in 2006, although held with proportional system, conditions for free and fair elections had not been in place. Restrictions to the right of assembly before the elections in 2008, total lack of press freedom and harassments (such as the arrest in March 2007 of the human rights defender Mr Jean Paul Noel Abdi), were described as factors severely restricting the political space. The opposition party MRD was banned in July 2008 by a presidential decree on the grounds of alleged support to an Eritrean attack against Djibouti.
Representatives of human rights organisations and trade unions reported that labour rights continue to be violated and unionists face harassments, with, for example, members of the UDT/UGTD leadership still not being reinstated in their jobs after dismissals linked to their trade union activities .
The Speaker of the House and Government representatives reconfirmed the strong commitment of the Ethiopian authorities to human rights and democratic principles. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the Ombudsman were set up to provide training, awareness raising and also investigate complaints. The Commission has also begun to monitor prison and detention places. Among civil society and representatives of opposition forces, however, there was a lack of trust with regard to the independence of these institutions.
In Parliament, representatives of the opposition parties also claimed that despite changes to the Rules of Procedure, they are in practice excluded from proper parliamentary work (e.g. by extremely limited speaking time; questions/motions tabled are rejected or not taken; control of committees by ruling party). The Speaker of the House and representatives of the ruling party underlined that the Rules of Procedure had been adapted together with international advisers. They referred to lack of capacity of Parliamentarians and claimed that the opposition did not make use of its rights. Capacity-building programmes are already in place with UN support, and EC engagement would be welcome. With regard to the denial of status as political group to the newly formed opposition party, Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), which was joined by 38 MPs, the Speaker referred to the rules requiring that the party had participated in the election. The opposition contested this and claimed that another party which was equally registered after the elections had received the political group status.
Opposition representatives also complained about frequent harassment, closure of the offices during local elections of April 2008 and denial of access to their constituencies, as well as arrests and non-respect for parliamentary immunity. On the day of arrival of the delegation the Secretary General of the OFDM, Mr Bekele Jirata, was arrested and charged with links to the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), together with other opposition supporters. The authorities informed the Chair of the Delegation that prisoners had full access to lawyers and families, but the Delegation received continuing reports about prisoners being held incommunicado, and that Mr Bekele had been without access to his lawyer for at least six days. On 1 November, the Deputy Chair of the UDJ Mr Gizachew Shiferaw and two UDJ parliamentarians were detained for three hours in Dembacha, Western Gojjam, Amhara region, allegedly with the stated reason that all party activities should be reported prior to the police.
Generally, there was a climate of fear among NGOs and opposition that government control was increasing and the political space is reduced by the recently adopted press law and party registration law. Access to food, land, fertilisers etc. are said to be used by the government for political purposes. Major concerns were raised with regard to the Charities and Societies Proclamation draft law (CSO law). A broad sector of issues related to human rights and democracy would be barred to NGOs which receive more than 10 percent of their funding from sources outside Ethiopia, including the Ethiopian diaspora, which is estimated to apply to 99 percent of the NGOs. The Parliament has not yet received the bill, but the Speaker announced a public hearing in the responsible Committee. Apparently, a fourth version is circulating, but the government has rejected all requests for changing the core elements.
The delegation also heard reports about government interference with the work of trade unions and professional organisations. Members of the former Ethiopian Teachers Association, dissolved by court decision, reported about bureaucratic delays in answering to their request for re-registration under a new name, submitted in August 2008. Several members of the former ETA are reported missing, in prison or out of work.
• Ethiopia should formally endorse the Boundary Commission’s virtual demarcation between Eritrea and Ethiopia as final and binding. The Eritrean government should agree to a dialogue with Ethiopia, which would address the process for disengagement of troops from the border and for physical demarcation in accordance with the Border Commission’s decision as well as the normalisation of relations between the two countries, including a reopening of the border for trade.
• The EU should continue its efforts in the framework of the Regional political partnership for peace, security and development in the Horn of Africa to identify projects of common interest which could trigger functional cooperation between Eritrea and Ethiopia, such as in the area of energy supply and cross-border trade.
• The Eritrean government should reconsider its current suspension of membership in IGAD. The AU and IGAD leadership should continue to involve Eritrea and encourage the government to rejoin the regional and sub-regional cooperation efforts.
• The Eritrean governments should agree to invite, jointly with the Djiboutian government, an independent fact-finding mission to look into the situation in Ras Doumeira. Both sides should rely on dialogue and diplomatic means to restore relations between the two countries. Eritrea should provide a list of Djiboutian prisoners of war and ensure access for the ICRC.
• In Somalia, the EU should continue its support for institution-building, the implementation of the Djibouti peace agreement and IGAD efforts in the peace process. AMISOM should be reinforced and the UN stabilisation force be deployed in a timely manner as soon as political and security conditions allow.
• In Sudan, the international community, including the EU, should become more active in supporting the implementation of the CPA and enhance efforts to secure the full deployment of UNAMID in Darfur.
• The EU should continue its support for IGAD and its efforts to develop an integration plan for the region and to strengthen its institutions.
• The Eritrean government should cooperate more closely with international organisations in the assessment of the food security situation to allow for timely and targeted intervention.
• The Eritrean government should allow the EC unhindered access to EC funded projects and enhance its openness to technical assistance for jointly agreed projects and programmes. It should also adapt the NGO Proclamation with a view of easing the financial requirements for NGOs willing to engage in development activities in Eritrea.
• The Ethiopian Government should grant full access to humanitarian organisations to the Ogaden region in the Somali state, and provide all necessary conditions for aid to reach its beneficiaries throughout the region.
• The European Commission should continue to support regional responses to cross-border challenges through the EU Regional partnership for peace, security and development, and in particular the regional management of water resources as an essential element for food security.
• The EU should continue efforts to ease bureaucratic procedures and requirements, where possible, with a view to speeding up the disbursement of EDF funds.
Human rights, democracy and good governance
• As it could be argued for other countries in the Horn, in Eritrea, the current situation is not in conformity with the essential elements of cooperation stated in Article 9 of the Cotonou agreement. Tangible progress in the near future in the field of human rights is critical for the European Parliament, which will follow closely the political dialogue and the process towards adoption of the Country Strategy Paper. As a first step, the Eritrean authorities should enhance transparency about the prison system and allow independent humanitarian organisations, such as the ICRC, to regularly visit all prisoners, including the so-called G11 and the group of journalists arrested in September 2001. Access to families, lawyers and medical treatment must equally be granted in accordance with international human rights standards. Where no charges have been brought against prisoners in a reasonable period of time, they should be unconditionally released. Those with specific charges against them should be brought to a speedy and fair trial. Bodies of prisoners who died in detention should be handed over to their families.
• The Eritrean government should develop a time plan for implementing the Eritrean Constitution and introducing freedom of religion, freedom of association and freedom of expression. The rules for the Special Courts, introduced for a transitional period only, should be adapted so as to comply with international standards for the rule of law and fair trials.
• In Djibouti, the authorities should protect the political space for opposition parties and human rights organisations, including full guarantee of press freedom, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. A meaningful dialogue between government and opposition should be launched, leading to an adaptation of the electoral law so as to allow for a fairer representation of existing political parties in Parliament. The recently banned opposition party MRD should be granted access to court to challenge the decision.
• The Government of Djibouti should take steps to ensure better protection in law and practice of the rights of trade unions in accordance with the respective core ILO conventions.
• The Ethiopian Parliament should enter into serious and public consultation with NGOs on the proposed bill on civil society organisations and consider its rejection, unless significant adaptations are made. The Ruling Party should restart the dialogue with opposition parties in Parliament about the working procedures and status of the opposition. Through revision and/or proper implementation of the Rules of Procedure and in line with the full set of recommendations from international experts, a more meaningful role for representatives of the opposition parties, including the UDJ, in debates and decision making should be ensured, as well as equal access to infrastructure and resources. The European Commission and the Ethiopian authorities should envisage the integration of capacity building programmes for the Parliament in the CSP.
• The Ethiopian authorities should review the press law and party registration law as well as the composition of the Election Board so as to ensure the political space for opposition parties is guaranteed. Allegations of harassments and arbitrary arrests of the opposition and civil society organisations should be investigated and those responsible brought to trial. With a view to the elections in 2010, international election observers should be invited at an early stage.
• The Ethiopian Ministry of Justice should handle swiftly the request for registration by the Ethiopian National Teachers Association (NTA), in accordance with the respective laws and rules.
• Given the reports about serious human rights violations by both government and rebel forces in the Somali region, the Ethiopian government should invite the relevant UN mechanisms to investigate the allegations.
• In accordance with Article 8 and Annex VII of the Revised Cotonou Agreement, the Governments of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti and the EU should jointly agree to deepen the political dialogue in the field of human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, including on the issues mentioned above, with a view to defining benchmarks and attaining tangible results and progress on the ground. Dialogue should be conducted in a flexible manner, formal or informal, within and outside the institutional framework, including the ACP Group and the Joint Parliamentary Assembly. The EU should consider associating regional and sub-regional organisations, as well as representatives of civil society organisations to this political dialogue, in accordance with Art. 8.7 of the Revised Cotonou Agreement.
Fact-finding mission of a Delegation of the Development Committee
of the European Parliament to the Horn of Africa (Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia)
(25 October-2 November 2008)
Members of the Delegation:
MEPs: A. Hutchinson (PSE) (Chair of the delegation), F. Kaczmarek (PPE), M. Irujo Amezaga (Greens)
Staff – DG ExPo Development Committee:
AD – Marika Lerch
AST – Alyson Wood
Saturday, 25 October
20.05 Arrival at Asmara International Airport
20:30 Transfer to hotel
Albergo Italia Hotel
Nakfa Avenue 13
Tel: +18.104.22.168.740 Fax: +22.214.171.124.993
Arrival of Mr Irujo @ 04.05 26.10.08 (from Cairo)
Sunday, 26 October
8:30 – 13:00 Trip to Zoba Debub and visit to project sites (accompanied by the Governor Mr Mustofa nur Hussein and DG, Minister of Agriculture)
-Oxfam projects: Adi Guroto (Areza sub-zoba) – EC funded
- Takketa: projects – GSE-funded
12:30 – 14:00 Lunch in Mendefera, hosted by the Governor of Debub
- Visit to Kakibdaand Deerko projects related to water – GSE funded
17.00 Drive Back to Asmara
19.00 Free Dinner
Monday, 27 October
8:00 – 9:30 Meeting EC Delegation staff (Venue: EC Delegation)
9:45 – 10:30 Meeting with: H.E. Dr. Woldai Futur, Minister of National Development
10:45 – 11:40 Meeting with UN agencies (Venue: UN building)
11.45 – 12.25 Meeting with ICRC (ICRC office)
12:30 – 14:00 Lunch with Representatives of Civil Society Organizations (venue:
National Union of Eritrean Women
National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students;
National Confederation of Eritrean Workers
14:15 – 15:30 Meeting with Officials (DGs) from the Ministries of:
Public Works, Water Department (Venue: Water Department)
15.30 – 16:15 Meeting with Peace building Centre for the Horn of Africa (venue: Delegation)
16:30 – 17:25 Meeting with Officials (DGs) from the Ministries of Education and Health and Eritrean Centre of Organisational Excellence
17:30 – 18:30 Meeting with Members of National Assembly (Venue: Denden)
- H.E. Mr. Yemane Ghebreab
- Mr. Mussa Naib
- Mr. Zemehret Yohannes
- Mrs. Luul Ghebreab
19:00 – 21:00 Dinner at Ghidey Restaurant (hosted by H.E. Mr Yemane Ghebreab)
Tuesday, 28 October
8:30 – 9:10 Meeting with Minster of Justice, H.E. Fozia Hashim (Venue: Ministry of Justice)
09:20 – 10:20 H.E. Mr. Yemane Ghebremeskel, Director General of the Office of the President
10:30 – 12:00 Visit of Asmara (visit to detention centre rejected by ER authorities)
13.00 – 18.30 Trip to Massawa; Meeting with H.E. President of the State of Eritrea
18.30-19:30 Meeting religious leaders (Venue: Office of the Patrtiarch of the Orthodox Church)
19:30 – 21:30 Dinner with EC Delegation and EU MS, hosted by EP delegation (Venue: at Casa degli Italiani)
01:00 Departure Asmara International Airport
Wednesday, 29 October
Departure Asmara: 01.00, arrival Sana’a at 05.00 (Yemen Airways, Flight IY631);
Transfer to Hotel – Rest
Ali Abdolmoghni Street,
Sana’a, Republic of Yemen.
Departure : 22.00, delayed arrival Djibouti 23.15 (Ethiopian Airlines, Flight ET 307)
Transfer to Hotel Kempinski
Djibouti Palace Kempinski
Ilot du Heron,
P.O. Box 1960, Djibouti, Republic of Djibouti
Phone: +253 325555
Fax: +253 325556
19.00 – 19.30 Meeting with EC delegation in Djibouti (cancelled due to delayed flight)
19.30 – 22.00 Reception hosted by the EC delegation in Djibouti (cancelled due to delayed flight)
Thursday, 30 October
8.00 – 09.00 Breakfast meeting with French Ambassador (Venue: French Embassy)
9.00 – 10.00 Meetings with
H.E. Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
H.E. Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed, Minister for Atriculture
Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Awaleh , Secrétaire d’état chargé de la Solidarité Nationale
10.00-10.30 Meeting with the Prime Minister, H.E. Dileita Mohamed Dileita
10.30 – 11.30 Meeting with the President of the National Assembly, H.E. Idriss Arnaoud Ali and Members of Parliament
11.30 – 12.15 Meeting with the President of the Republic of Djibouti, H.E. Ismael Omar Guelleh
12.15 -13.15 Meeting with representatives of UNDP, FAO, WFP, UNICEF
13.15 -15.30 Lunch with representatives of civil society and trade unions, offered by the
EP delegation (Venue: Restaurant Janateyn, Route de l’Aéroport , Djibouti)
16.00 – 17:00 Meetings with representatives of opposition parties belonging to UAD coalition
17.15 Transfer to the airport (Salon d’honneur)
Departure from Djibouti: 18.20, arrival Addis Ababa at 19.30 (Ethiopian Airlines, Flight ET 307)
Transfer to Hotel:
Sheraton Addis Hotel
PO Box 6002
Friday, 31 October
8:30 – 9:30 Meeting with EC Delegation and EU Troika (venue: EC Delegation premises)
10:00 – 11:00 Meeting with Hon. Ambassador Teshome Toga, Speaker of the House of Representatives (venue: Parliament) – jointly with President Pöttering and Michael Gahler
11:00 – 12:00 Meeting with representatives of opposition parties in the Parliament (venue: Parliament)
12:00 – 12.30 Meeting with Representatives of the Ruling Party
12.45 – 14:00 Lunch with State Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Dr Tekeda Alemu (venue: Hotel Sheraton)
14:15 – 16.15 Meetings with economic team (H.E Minister Sufian Ahmed, H.E. Minister Girma Biru, and H.E. State Minister Abera Deresa), and social sector team (H.E. Minister Teodros Adhanom and H.E. State Minister Fuad Ibrahim) (venue: Parliament)
16.15 – 17.15 Meeting with Dr. Kassa G. Hiwot, Chief Commissioner, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission; Ato Abay Tekle, Chief Ombudsman (venue: Parliament)
17:30 – 19:00 Meeting with representatives of civil society (venue: Hotel Sheraton)
19.30 – 20.00 Meeting with Executive Secretary of IGAD (venue: Hotel Sheraton)
20:00 Dinner with representatives of international organisations, hosted by the EP
delegation (venue: Hotel Sheraton, Les Arcades restaurant)
Saturday, 1 November (timing to be confirmed)
8:00 – 12:30 Visit to two EC supported project on food security
13.45 – 14.30 Free lunch
14:30 – 15:30 Informal meeting with representatives of opposition (venue: Hotel Sheraton, room Barro salon)
15:30 – 16.00 Informal meeting with representative of civil society (venue: Hotel Sheraton, room Barro salon)
17:00 – 18:30 Meeting with H.E. Prime Minister (venue to be confirmed)
19:00 – 20:00 De-briefing of EU Heads of Mission, followed by a buffet dinner (venue: EC Delegation Residence)
21:00 Departure from EC Residence to Bole Airport
22:45 Departure from Addis Ababa to Brussels (LH 591)
Arrival in Brussels on 2 November at 08.05