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National council formed to amend legislation that tamper with political rights

Berhanu Tsegaye _ Attorney General
Ethiopia’s new attorney general, Berhanu Tsegaye
Source : ETV

June 24,2018

Ethiopian government formed a national council to amend legislation that impair political rights, says a report published today by The Ethiopian Reporter, which cited sources it described as “close to the matter.”

The council which was formed last week is is named “Justice and Legal System Amendment Council.”

It is organized in a way to have eight sub-groups. The entire membership of the council is 12 which means that a person could me be a member of more than one sub-group.

The source also added that expatriate legal experts are included in the council. From within the country, the council draws its membership from academic institutions and from private legal firms.

It is tasked to identify legislation that compromises political rights of Ethiopians and amend them in light of international law, in the context of existing conditions in Ethiopia and in a way that does not make the national security of Ethiopia vulnerable. From the report by Ethiopian Reporter, the overarching objective seem to be reforming the legal system to ensure the rule of law and make the justice system efficient.

The “anti-terrorism” legislation and laws governing charitable and civic organizations are among the focus areas for the council.

It is to be remembered that the “anti-terrorism” legislation had been serving as a “legal” tool to repress dissent and curtail freedom of expression in Ethiopia which weakened the press freedom for nearly a decade.

Politicians in the opposition quarter and journalists had been thrown to jail with the pretext of “terrorism charges.” It was after the coming of prime minister Abiy Ahmed that many journalists and political prisoners were released as part of commitment to broaden democratic space in the country. In the last two months, some political organization which were based abroad have entered the country for “dialogue” after the prime minister introduced some reform. This week, Eritrea based rebel movement, Ginbot 7, announced that it is resorting to peaceful struggle.

The new administration has also a plan to rethink the federal regional administration arrangement due to ever increasing ethnic based violence in different parts of Ethiopia. Abiy Ahmed promised that no Ethiopian citizen should be a target of ethnic-based violence in the ethnically instituted regions of the country which was not a reality at least in the last six or so months. The government, however, did not disclose details of the plan.

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