News / Africa

Ethiopia Declines to Respond to US Rights Charges

Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hailemariam Desalegn, right (file photo)
Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hailemariam Desalegn, right (file photo)

Ethiopia has ended its practice of formally responding to the annual U.S. human rights report, as it has done the past two years. A statement said the government views the Congressionally-mandated report with contempt, and has no plans to answer the charges.

The most recent State Department report paints a troubling picture of human rights conditions in Ethiopia.

It depicts a state with a widespread system of paid informants reporting on people’s activities, where criminal courts are subject to significant political intervention and influence, and where non-governmental organizations say hundreds of political prisoners are being held.  
The 56-page report documents restrictions on academic and press freedoms, including intimidation and detention of journalists, jamming foreign broadcasts, blocking internet websites, and prohibiting political activity on college campuses.  

It also implicitly questions the existence of a multi-party democracy, noting that the ruling party and its affiliates won almost every one of 3.4 million local council seats in 2008 elections and all but two seats in parliament in 2010.

The report quotes what it calls multiple credible sources saying party membership is an important factor in obtaining university admissions, employment opportunities, food aid and other benefits controlled by the government.

Additionally, it notes that a new law regulating non-governmental organizations has sidelined two prominent domestic human rights defender groups, including the only one doing actual investigations and reporting on alleged abuses.

Ethiopia’s reaction to the report, which covered abuses reported in 2010, was furious. A foreign ministry statement charged that 80% of the material was a rehash of groundless and unverifiable allegations from dubious sources contained in previous reports. It said the rest was mostly a few new lies, added to the old ones, and questioned whether the U.S. government’s motive was simply to tarnish Ethiopia’s image.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn dismissed the document as a meaningless “cut and paste” exercise.

"We said this is a methodology failure. So if the United States is worried about the human rights challenge, then it should be critically evaluated. So if it is ‘cut and paste,’ then it doesn’t give any meaning to anyone. So we said, if it continues like this, it has nothing to do with changing and improving the human rights situation in Ethiopia."

In response to the two previous State Department reports, in 2008 and 2009, Ethiopia published a rebuttal challenging the accuracy of the charges. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi called the pamphlets a sign Ethiopia takes the U.S. criticisms seriously, unlike reports from groups such as Human Rights Watch, which the government categorically dismisses.

But Foreign Minister Hailemariam says the latest U.S. report does not merit a response, and would be treated with what was called "the contempt it deserves."

"The last two years we have engaged ourselves with the authorities of the United States and discussed several meetings on the human rights situation in Ethiopia. We thought we had convinced each other on many of the issues…  If this is not considered at all, then there is no need to accept this report as something that can help us.  So that’s why we dismissed the report totally because it is based on unfounded allegations which are baseless."

Hailemariam made clear, however, that the report would not affect what he called the "cordial relationship" between Addis Ababa and Washington. He said, "we dismiss the report, we have not dismissed the United States."

Ethiopia remains an important U.S. partner in the volatile Horn of Africa region. The United States is Ethiopia’s largest bilateral aid donor, with assistance totaling roughly $1 billion a year.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid