Ethiopia

Visit to Ethiopia – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression (A/HRC/44/49/Add.1) [EN/AR]

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Human Rights Council
Forty-fourth session
15 June–3 July 2020
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Summary

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, visited Ethiopia from 2 to 9 December 2019, at the invitation of the Government. The visit took place against the backdrop of an important ongoing legal and institutional reform.

In the present report, the Special Rapporteur welcomes steps taken by the Government to lift the state of emergency, free journalists and political prisoners, allow previously banned opposition groups to operate, and adopt new laws on civil society organizations and on countering terrorism. The Special Rapporteur also expresses concerns at the adoption of a new law aimed at curbing hate speech and disinformation, which may adversely affect freedom of expression. In this context, he recommends that the Government carry out a broad and deep national dialogue to address grievances and to build robust and inclusive democratic institutions. The mandate of the Special Rapporteur remains committed to working with the Government and the people of Ethiopia in their efforts to meet the State’s obligations under international human rights law.

I. Introduction

  1. Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 34/18, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, undertook an official visit to Ethiopia from 2 to 9 December 2019 at the invitation of the Government. The main objective of the visit was to assess the situation of freedom of expression in the country in the context of the State’s obligations under international human rights law.

  2. The Special Rapporteur held various meetings in Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar. He and his team met with government officials, including the Minister of Peace and the Minister of Innovation and Technology, and with representatives of the Office of the Attorney General, the Federal Police Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the legislative and judicial branches – including the Chair and members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Legal and Justice Affairs, and the President and Vice-Presidents of the Federal High Court, respectively. He also met with the Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, members of the National Election Board of Ethiopia, the Director of the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority, the Director and Deputy Director of the Agency for Civil Society Organizations, and members of the Advisory Council for Legal and Justice Affairs.

  3. The Special Rapporteur also met with journalists, lawyers, academics, students and civil society representatives. He would like to thank all those individuals he met for their hospitality and openness in sharing their experiences with him.

  4. The Special Rapporteur is grateful to the Government for inviting him to undertake the visit and for facilitating government meetings. He also thanks the United Nations Resident Coordinator Office, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, including the East Africa Regional Office, for their valuable support prior to and during the visit.