The Board reportedly cited legal provisions in denying Ethiopian Human Rights Commission a pass to observe the sixth general election
A report by the Ethiopian Reporter Amharic edition published on Thursday said that Ethiopian Human Rights Commission made preparations to observe the election from the trajectory of respect for human rights. But the Election Board refused to issue passes to EHRC.
And the Board claims to have a legal ground to do so. It cited section 123 of The Ethiopian Electoral and Political Parties Proclamation ( which was enacted in 2019) . That section says “The Board shall issue or cause to be issued certificates to election observers, onsite and mobile
representatives, journalists and election observers. ”
In the subsequent two or three sections, it specifically talks about issuing licenses and required criteria for it. The Board’s decision about the EHRC request could be appealed in a Federal high court, but it would not serve ( if it wins the appeal) the purpose of observing the election this coming Monday simply due to time constraints.
The reporter cited its sources to report that the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has given a written response to the Election Board on June 14. “Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is not in the lists of bodies entitled to get passes,” is the response the Board gave to EHRC.
Political party representatives, election observers and journalists have the right to get passes as per the guidelines – which seem to emphasize independence and impartiality principles.
EHRC has appealed to the Board to reconsider its decision, according to The Reporter. EHRC on its part is pulling relevant legislation that established it as an entity to assert that the Board needs to look into its decision again. It cited section 6(11) of the 1224/2020 Human Rights Commission Proclamation.
There appears to be precedents the Board was given a pass in an election/referendum environment. When the Sidama statehood referendum was organized in 2020, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission was issued with a pass from the Election Board.
Amended legislation relating to the rights and responsibilities granted EHRC to follow-up human rights protection issues, but it was not listed in the legislation that established the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia.
“If the Board understands that EHRC is mandated to follow-up human rights protection, including in times of election, it should know or extrapolate how EHRC could discharge its responsibilities,” is the argument made in favor of EHRC.