Washington Update on HR2003 By Rep. Donald Payne and Hailu Shawel’s Treatment

April 25th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

Washington Update

April 24, 2007

1. Congress.

Rep. Donald Payne introduced the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 on April 20. (more…)

Washington Update

April 24, 2007

1. Congress.

Rep. Donald Payne introduced the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 on April 20. The bill essentially the same as HR 5680 that Rep. Chris Smith wrote and introduced last year. The primary differences are:

[Click here to see list of HR2003 Cosponsors]

1) the “findings”? have been updated to include language from the State Department’s human rights report that describes outrages the Meles regime has inflicted on members of the opposition, including unlawful killings, beatings, and arrests.

2) the findings describe the results of an investigation by the Commission of Inquiry that the Meles regime created to investigate the use of force by government security forces. Although the Commission was hand picked by the government, it concluded that government security forces acted illegally and with extreme brutality.

3) Makes U.S. non-humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia contingent on punishment of security personnel who were involved in the unlawful killing of demonstrators. The bill specifically mentions Etenesh Yemam and the killing of prisoners at Kaliti prison.

4) The section on economic development assistance for Ethiopia has been expanded. It specifies that the U.S. government is to provide financial assistance for the development of irrigation to avoid future famines, including funds for the Blue Nile and Awash River. It also directs the U.S. to support Ethiopia’s healthcare infrastructure.

5) The bill authorizes the expenditre of $20 million per year for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 to accomplish its goals. 6) Language in the previous version of the bill that provided assistance for development of Ethiopia’s tax collection system, debt management and other financial infrastructure has been deleted.

This legislation may not be perfect, but its enactment would be a tremendous benefit to Ethiopia. We should have an initial list of co-sponsors very soon. Once we have the list we will know who should be thanked for their support and especially who should be contacted to solicit support.

We have spoken with Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and he has indicated that he will co-sponsor the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007. He was a co-sponsor of HR 5680.

At this point it is important for every Ethiopian in the U.S. to contact Rep. Payne’s office to thank him for introducing the legislation and to urge him to push hard for its rapid enactment. It is also important to acknowledge Rep. Smith’s efforts and to ensure that this remains a bipartisan issue. Especially when this legislation moves to the Senate, bipartisan support will be critical. The Meles regime is certain to look for cracks that it can exploit to block the bill. We need to create and maintain a united front. There is no reason that Ethiopian human rights, freedom, democracy and economic development should be a partisan issue in the United States.

2. State Department

U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Donald Yamamoto, has helped arrange for a physician to travel from South Africa to Addis Ababa to treat Hailu Shawel, who remains in prison. We are hoping that he and all political prisoners will be released quickly.

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