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

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid