(New York, March 1, 2011) - The United Kingdom is set to increase substantially its development assistance to Ethiopia, despite human rights concerns, including the misuse of development aid to repress dissent, as reported by Human Rights Watch. In the next two years, the UK's Ethiopian development program is slated to become its largest bilateral program in the world, according to a March 1, 2011 news release from the UK Department of for International Development (DFID).
In October 2010, Human Rights Watch published a report, "Development without Freedom," that described how international development aid is used by the Ethiopian government to discriminate against political opponents and dissenters. Government services financed by the United Kingdom and other donors are administered in a partisan way. Essential agricultural inputs, land, and even food for work programs are used as tools to reward loyal supporters and punish the families of opposition members, with serious humanitarian consequences, Human Rights Watch found.
While repression in Ethiopia has increased, so has development assistance to Ethiopia from the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, and other major donors.
International donors are aware of partisan discrimination in some areas in Ethiopia but have not conducted an independent investigation into the serious allegations contained in the Human Rights Watch report.
"There are serious questions about the government of Ethiopia's commitment to human rights and democracy," said Ben Rawlence, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Any increase in aid to Ethiopia should be rigorously scrutinized to ensure that it does not contribute to repression and discrimination and to undermining human rights."
To read Human Rights Watch's October 2010 report on the misuse of development assistance by Ethiopia, please visit: http://www.hrw.org/node/93605
For Human Rights Watch's criticism of the donors' response to the report, please visit: http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/12/17/ethiopia-donors-should-investigate-misuse-aid-money
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