News / Africa

Amnesty Warns Ethiopia, Rwanda Not to Trade Rights for Growth

Gabe Joselow
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.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid