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Parliamentary questions
9 March 2012
E-001616/2012
Answer given by High Representative/Vice-President Ashton on behalf of the Commission

The EU is following very closely the human rights and civil society situation in Ethiopia, including the application of the Anti Terrorism Proclamation. This allows for a wide interpretation of terrorism and has an impact on freedom of media and expression. The EU is also conducting an intensive dialogue with the Ethiopian Government on civil society issues, especially regarding the application of the Civil Society Proclamation. The EU was instrumental in the creation of a Civil Society Working Group bringing together Government and representatives of civil society and donor agencies, co-chaired by the Minister of Federal Affairs and the EU Delegation to Ethiopia. This is the forum where the impact of the Civil Society Law and its implementing guidelines are being discussed. In the last meeting on 30 January 2012, the Government accepted to reconsider some of these provisions.

The particular issue of the frozen accounts of the two Human Rights Defender organisations, the Human Rights Council (HRC) and the Ethiopian Women's Lawyers Association (EWLA), has been regularly addressed in the High Level Forum between the Development Assistance Group (DAG) and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.

Negotiations between Government and the EU resulted in the acknowledgement of the EU Civil Society Fund (CSF) as ‘domestic source’ since April 2010. This means that the CSF is able to support human rights and governance related activities without any limitation of funding. Human Rights Defender organisations, such as the Human Rights Council and the Ethiopian Women's Lawyers Association, will therefore be able to access this funding window.

The EU will pursue dialogue with government on human rights and civil society along the lines outlined here, including on the case of Human Rights Defenders such as HRC and EWLA.

OJ C 105 E, 11/04/2013
Last updated: 23 March 2012Legal notice