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Ethiopian House of Representatives endorsed the state of emergency

State of emergency declared in Ethiopia lifts restriction on human rights whenever government needs it in the course of taking COVID 19 prevention actions

Ethiopian House of Peoples Representatives
Ethiopian Parliament

April 10, 2020

In the second special meeting during its fifth-year term, Ethiopian House of Peoples Representative approved, on Friday, state of emergency declared by the  Council of Ministers on April 8

From state media TV transmission of the parliamentary session, it is noticeable that the meeting did not take place at the parliament, and the reason seems to have something to do with finding a more spacious place convenient for social distancing. And members of the parliament are seen wearing face masks and gloves.

Ambassador Mesfin Chernet, the government representative in the parliament, explained the importance of the state of emergency to members of parliament before members moved to vote on the motion. 

There has been confusion as to what precisely the purpose of the state of emergency is in relation to COVID 19 pandemic, which claimed three lives so far. 

Ambassador Mesfin Chernet said, “the state of emergency declaration temporarily lifts restriction on human rights while the government is taking necessary measures to reverse the spread of Coronavirus pandemic.” 

The purpose is, said Mesfin Chernet, to grant the government better freedom and power in the course of carrying out COVID 19 prevention-related activities. Regular health care provision legislation and procedures are weak in the face of the pandemic, according to his explanation. 

The state of emergency has a constitutional basis (Article 93). At this writing, opposition parties in the country did not demonstrate disagreement about it. 

Regional states could legislate their own emergency measures but the Federal government’s supersedes the regional legislation.

The state of emergency will remain in place for the next five months, according to a report by state media, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC). 

A board composed of seven members is established to follow up on the implementation of the state of emergency. Twelve members of parliament voted against it. And there were five abstain votes. The board will report to the parliament updates regarding the extent of COVID 19 transmission in the country and the casualty, among other issues.  

Meanwhile, the House of People’s Representatives approved over 82 million US dollars international loan agreement to be spent on response measures to COVID 19 in the country, EBC reported.  Specifically, the fund will be spent on the purchase of medical supplies and kits needed for the response, for quarantine related activities, for capacity building and community engagement. 

As well, the house approved a 28 billion birrs budget for the current budget year. 

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