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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Ethiopia, notably the case of Dr Merera Gudina

16.5.2017 - (2017/2682(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure

Elena Valenciano, Victor Boştinaru, Soraya Post, Ana Gomes on behalf of the S&D Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0369/2017

Postup : 2017/2682(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on Ethiopia, notably the case of Dr Merera Gudina


The European Parliament,

-having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Ethiopia, in particular that on 21 January 2016,


-having regard to the latest Universal Periodic Review on Ethiopia before the UN Human Rights Council 2015,


-having regard to the press release of the EEAS following the visit of the Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission to the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Addis Ababa,17/03/2017,


-having regard to the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia adopted on 8 December 1994, and in particular the provisions of Chapter III on fundamental rights and freedoms, human rights and democratic rights,


-having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,


-having regard to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified by Ethiopia in 1994,


-having regard to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,


-having regard to the United Nations International Charter of Human Rights,


-having regard to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights,


-having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,


-having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,



A. whereas political and democratic stability in Ethiopia is crucial to the development of the countries of the Horn of Africa; whereas there has been a serious deterioration in the freedom of association by constant threats and attacks against opposition and protesters; whereas Ethiopia plays a key role in this region and enjoys political support from Western donors and most of its regional neighbours, mostly owing to its role as host of the African Union (AU) and its contribution to UN peacekeeping, security and aid partnerships with Western countries;


B. whereas Ethiopian Government is systematically repressing freedom of expression and association and banning individuals from expressing dissent or opposition to government policies, thereby limiting the civil and political space, including by carrying out politically motivated prosecutions under the draconian anti-terrorism law, decimating independent media, dismantling substantial civil society activism and cracking down on opposition political parties;

C. whereas following a year of anti-governmental protests during which hundreds to thousands of protesters were killed and tens of thousands detained by Ethiopian security forces, the Ethiopian government ordered a state of emergency in October 2016 permitting even greater restrictions on the rights to freedom of speech, access to information, freedom of expression, association and assembly;


D.whereas the Ethiopian government has not meaningfully investigated the abuses during the protests that started in November 2015; whereas the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, mandated to carry out investigations, has produced two reports, neither of which meet basic criteria for impartiality, and did not adequately consider security forces firing live ammunition into crowds, mass arrests without charge, or torture in detention - all of which have been widely documented independent human rights organisations; whereas the Human Rights Commission has a long history of lack of independence and a long-standing close relationship to the government;


whereas the Ethiopian government has made little progress on addressing the grievances of protesters during the state of emergency; whereas Similarly, the negotiation between the government and the opposition lacks credibility since opposition groups have been systematically decimated since 2010, leaving few truly independent voices left to negotiate with; whereas most political parties who are genuinely representative of broad communities have their senior members in prison on politically motivated charges;

E. whereas on 30 November Ethiopian security forces detained the chairman of the Ethiopian opposition party ‘Oromo Federalist Congress’ (OFC), Professor Merera Gudina, shortly after his arrival in Addis Ababa from Brussels where - together with Ethiopian activists Berhanu Nega and Olympian athlete Feyisa Lellisa - he spoke as a panellist in a conference in the European Parliament on the political crisis in Ethiopia;


F. whereas on 1 December 2016 Dr. Merera Gudina,, was arrested in Addis Ababa on the account for violating the directives of the state of emergency, for breaching Ethiopia’s criminal code article 32/1/a & b, article 27/1, and article 238/1& 2 that accuses him of being involved in “creating pressure against the government”, “threatening society through the means of violence” and attempting to “disrupt constitutional order”, contravening article 486/b and giving a false and damaging statement about the government to a media and hence designated as terrorist; whereas the Ethiopian government claims that Dr. Merara Gudina, by sharing a panel in the European Parliament with Dr. Berhanu Nega, former leader of opposition party Ginbot7, violated Article 2 of the directive issued to implement the state of emergency, under which meeting with individuals or organisations proscribed by the Ethiopian Parliament as terrorists is prohibited; whereas Ginbot7 is among the organisations listed;

G. whereas since December 2015 Bekele Gerba, a foreign language professor at Addis Ababa University and Deputy Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), has been arrested on terrorism charges and still in detention incommunicado; whereas other senior OFC leaders have been arbitrarily arrested in recent weeks or are said to be under virtual house arrest;


H. whereas on March 15/2017, the Ethiopia government and the Command post established to oversee the State of Emergency, lifted several restrictions imposed to implement the state of emergency effective 8 October 2016 but have extended the state of emergency by four more months;


I. whereas Ethiopian authorities regularly use arbitrary arrests and politically motivated prosecutions to silence journalists, activists and opposition party members - in December 2015 leading activists Getachew Shiferaw (Editor-in-Chief of Negere Ethiopia), Yonathan Teressa (an online activist) and Fikadu Mirkana (Oromia Radio and TV) were arbitrarily arrested; whereas prominent Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega was arrested in 2011, and sentenced to 18 years in prison under the Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism proclamation; whereas Andargachew Tsege, a British-Ethiopian citizen and leader of an opposition party living in exile, was arrested in June 2014 in Yemen and sent back to Ethiopia; whereas Mr Tsege had been condemned to death several years earlier in his absence, and has been on death row practically incommunicado since his arrest;


J. whereas Article 10(2) of Ethiopia’s Constitution guarantees that human and democratic rights of citizens and peoples shall be respected;


K. whereas Ethiopia is a signatory to the Cotonou Agreement, Article 96 of which stipulates that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is an essential element of ACP‑EU cooperation;


L. whereas Ethiopia’s Charities and Societies Proclamation law requires organisations engaged in advocacy to generate 90 % of the funding for their activities from local sources, which has led to a decrease in action by civil society organisation (CSOs) and to the disappearance of many CSOs; whereas Ethiopia rejected recommendations to amend the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, made by several countries during the examination of its rights record under the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review of May 2014;


M. Whereas the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, declared that the Charities and Societies Proclamation, Anti-Terrorism and Mass Media laws in Ethiopia "do not appear aligned with relevant international legal norms, and should be reformed." following a two-day visit to Ethiopia on the 5th of May 2017; whereas the Ethiopian government again denied the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights access to protest areas, following a tradition of resistance to scrutiny of its human rights record, which includes not permitting access to UN investigators or any UN special procedures since 2007;


N. whereas Ethiopia is a highly diverse country in terms of religious beliefs and cultures; whereas some of the largest ethnic communities, particularly the Oromo and the Somali (Ogaden), have been marginalised in favour of the Amhara and the Tigray, with little participation in political representation;


O. whereas the EU and Ethiopia have over 40 years of constructive bilateral relations in areas of development cooperation, trade and economic development, consolidation of democratic institutions, regional peace and security;


P. whereas Ethiopia is an important country of destination, transit and origin for migrants and asylum seekers;




Q. whereas on 14 June 2016, the EU and Ethiopia signed a strategic engagement document “Ethio-EU”, aiming at structuring the reinforced cooperation between the two partners, which focuses on six sectoral dialogues one of which is Human rights;


1. Expresses dismay over the detention and trial of Dr. Merera Gudina for participating in a public hearing in the European Parliament, promoted to facilitate and open discussion about the situation in Ethiopia, calls on the Ethiopian Government to immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Merera Gudina and all persons detained and tried for political reasons and their human rights activism and fulfil its obligations with respect to human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law;


2. Is deeply concerned by the recent use of excessive force by the security forces in Oromia and in other Ethiopian regions, and the increased number of cases of human rights violations;


3. Condemns in strong terms the loss of lives during the demonstrations over the last year and expresses its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and the people of Ethiopia; urges the immediate release of all those jailed for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression;


4. Calls on the EU High Representative to mobilise EU Member States to urgently pursue the establishment of a UN mandated international investigation for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the killings of protesters and into other alleged human rights violations in connection with the protest movement, and calls on the government to fairly prosecute those responsible before the competent jurisdictions;

5. Takes the view that for any genuine opposition dialogue to be seen as credible and produce effective results, senior opposition politicians should be released from prison and all charges dropped;

6. Reminds the Ethiopian Government of its obligations to guarantee fundamental rights, including access to justice and the right to a fair trial, as provided for in the African Charter and other international and regional human rights instruments, including the Cotonou Agreement and specifically Articles 8 and 96 thereof;


7. Call on the Ethiopian Government to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Union Charter on Human and People’s Rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of opinion, and an independent judicial system;


8. Urges the Ethiopian government to allow and facilitate a peaceful and constructive dialogue and to prevent any deepening of the current political crisis or refrain from further violence and intimidation;


9. Stresses that free and independent media are essential in order to guarantee an informed, active and engaged population, and calls on the Ethiopian authorities to stop suppressing the free flow of information, including by jamming media broadcasts and harassing media, to guarantee the rights of local civil society and media and to facilitate access throughout Ethiopia for independent journalists and human rights monitors;


Requests that the Ethiopian authorities stop using anti-terrorism legislation (Anti‑Terrorism Proclamation No 652/2009) to repress political opponents, dissidents, human rights defenders, other civil society actors and independent journalists; calls also on the Ethiopian Government to review its anti-terrorism law and Charities and Societies Proclamation in order to bring it into line with international human rights standards;

10.Takes the view that the EU’s future cooperation with Ethiopia should be conditioned on achieving substantive progress on human rights benchmarks, which include could include release of key political prisoners, extending invitations to UN special rapporteurs, substantial amendment or repeal of anti-terrorism law/CSO law, lifting of the state of emergency and ceasing blocking of social media and opposition websites;


11.Is concerned by the human rights impact of the funds sent to Ethiopia under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, designed to address the root causes of irregular migration and forcible displacement; stresses that the root causes of migration will never be addressed without genuine political reform in Ethiopia towards democracy, the rule of law and human rights;

12. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Government and Parliament of Ethiopia, the Commission, the Council, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the ACP-EU Council of Ministers, the institutions of the African Union, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the Pan-African Parliament.