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A Rebuttal to Friedman: There is no “lid on Africa” also addressing his misconception on Migration!

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “taking the lid off” as: “to cause something bad that was previously kept secret to be known by the public” (Cambridge Dictionary, Cambridge University Press). A writer like Thomas L. Friedman in the New York times should know this perfectly well, as he used this term in his column ‘ Opinion Can I Ruin Your Dinner Party?’ published on the 7th August 2018. This is the reason for why I writing this. Because of two paragraphs that needs to be addressed, I will first let his words speak, before showing what the EU says about the matter. As a European, the American writer doesn’t make sense.

The key part was:

Toppling Qaddafi without building a new order may go down as the single dumbest action the NATO alliance ever took. It took the lid off Africa, leading to some 600,000 asylum seekers and illegal migrants flocking to Italy’s shores in recent years, with 300,000 staying there and the rest filtering into other E.U. countries. This has created wrangles within the bloc over who should absorb how many migrants and has spawned nationalist-populist backlashes in almost every E.U. country” (Thomas L. Friedman – ‘Opinion Can I Ruin Your Dinner Party?’ 07.08.2018 link: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/07/opinion/can-i-ruin-your-dinner-party.html).

I don’t know in which world Friedman is residing, but the words of the EU, Zelesa and MPC are clearly not opening any jars of uncertainty. Yes, there been a growing amount of illegal and non-asylum seekers through the United Nations or Bilateral Organizations, which they have come from War-Zones as in the past. As the EU Member States takes their quota of refugees and asylum-seekers as a global task of helping people in need, as that cannot happen where they are or they are living in temporary shelters awaiting hopefully a helpful nation to become their guardian. However, no else is saying it is NATO fault or even the fall Qaddafi, which is the reason for crossing across the Mediterranean sea. There is more porous borders as well as the conflict in the Sahel Region that has continued. These are all reasons for the transport of refugees from the rest of the Sub-Saharan Africa. However, there was never a lid to be taken of the continent.

The EU Science Hub states:

Between 2008 and 2016, the total annual number of African migrants remained stable. However, legal immigration was declining in this period, while the number of irregular arrivals and asylum claims of Africans increased. Irregular arrivals of Africans via the Mediterranean started to decline again in 2017.In Europe, the majority of African immigrants come from North Africa, with most people making the move to reunite with family members already settled in a European country” (EU Science Hub – ‘New perspectives on African migration’ 01.07.2018 link: https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/new-perspectives-african-migration).

EU Project opened more nations for Immigration:

Clearly, African immigration to Europe was marked by increasing diversification both in the number of countries sending and receiving the immigrants. Particularly remarkable was the emergence of the southern European countries, principally Italy, Portugal, and Spain, themselves longstanding emigration countries, as immigration countries. This was as much a product of the improving economic fortunes in these countries and their integration into the prosperity and political sphere of Western Europe as it was of mounting immigration pressures on their borders to the east and the south. Enclosed in a new European transnational space, new identities of ethnicity and citizenship began to emerge that entailed creating both symbolic and material borders to keep away or distinguish the immigrants. The Europeanization of these countries and the rebordering of the Mediterranean that it implied required the separation and stigmatization ofimmigrants from the global South (Suarez-Navaz, 1997; Royo, 2005)” (Paul Tiyambe Zeleza – ‘Africa ‘s Contemporary Global Migrations: Patterns, Perils, and Possibilities’ P: 39, June 2010).

Migration Profile – Libya:

Despite Libya being, first and foremost, a country of immigration, the deterioration of immigrants’ conditions in the country has also made it an important country for transit migration and particularly for the many migrants trying to reach Malta and the Italian Isle of Lampedusa As to emigration patterns, Libya has never recorded significant outward migration flows. However, during the 2011 unrest, there was an upsurge of Libyan nationals fleeing the country. According, though, to the authorities in neighbouring countries, the great majority are believed to already have returned to Libya” (…) “To conclude, two considerations can be made about the impact of the Libyan crisis on international migration movements. On the one hand, Sub Saharan nationals were without any doubt the people most at risk, both in Libya and at the borders (where repatriation activities led to an impasse). On the other hand, the capacity of neighbouring African countries to manage the crisis in terms of the reception of migrants was remarkable. (IOM, 2012)” (Migration Policy Center – ‘MPC – MIGRATION PROFILE Libya, June 2013).

As we can really see, is that what Friedman is saying is wrong. The African Migration to Europe has lasted long. That is not new and has usually followed to the previous Colonizers of the ones migrating. However, with the change of he European Union, has changed that pattern, but not opened up something. The Libyan Crisis and fall of Qaddafi have had is effect. However, the results by the EU and the IOM are stating not as bad as previously stated. Also that the “illegal” are rising, but less of the direct asylum-seekers, meaning their means and ways has changed, but the end-game are more of the same. They are still fleeing from crisis and wars in Sub-Saharan Africa, but they doing so by the shores of Northern Africa crossing into EU Countries.

So, the taking the lid off by invading and deposing Qaddafi seems like far-fetched. That is a lie, also a relic of the past, as Friedman sounds like they opened a box with a box-opener. This was simply done with getting rid of one dictator. He seems like that is the reason for the whole transit in Libya, not the whole conflict within the continent and neither the true nature of it all. As people are doing whatever they can to get shelter and hope for the future, because the International Community isn’t reacting or caring about the oppression in their nations. They are forgotten and know they will not get help, as the Western Powers are boasting these leaders who oppress and then people want to flee from these shores.

No lid was taken, it was never a lid there to begin with? Are there a lid that was opened so that United States could have space for all the slaves in the past? Or is there a lid taken of the brain of Trump? We all, the rest of the world really want to know.

Enough of this nonsense. Peace.

The European Council plans to move more migration management outside its borders!

The European Council in the draft note before the next general meeting. Is establishing mechanisms, which would ensure that less tries to cross the oceans to get to safe harbour in Europe. This by both giving financial aid possibly and make the Border States have settlements of asylum-seekers and whatnot.

“The European Council will also strengthen EU external instruments on migration in the context of the negotiations on the next Multiannual Financial Framework, in particular so as to ensure effective cooperation with countries of origin and transit. To this end, the external components of the internal, border, asylum and migration funds should include a dedicated external migration management window specifically geared towards stemming irregular migration flows” (Council of the European Union – European Council meeting (28 June 2018) – Draft conclusions -8147/18, 19.06.2018).

This is really nasty stuff, that the European Union continues to purge like this and with these methods. Actually, making sure the refugees and asylum-seekers are stationed in Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and everything else bordering at sea towards Europe. There is lack of heart and with intent of shattering people’s dreams of possible refuge. That is what this is.

They are planning external migration management to stop the flow of people crossing into their borders. That means an invisible wall with functions and mechanisms stopping the ones trying to seek refuge. Just think about that, the sovereign states on the borders are bushwhacked by the EU and also most likely pushed by the funds their way as a bargain. Both parties with no consideration of the implications on the lives on the ones fleeing war-zones and civil-wars, famine or any sort of disaster that are creating all the reasons for fleeing on humanitarian grounds. Still, the EU will use these states as buffers and shield itself from people coming.

We can all see with this, the precious and deep scars, the evidence of control and also extending boundaries, just so, the ones in need cannot cross into refuge. They cannot get shelter or hope for the future, but live in oblivion, outcast in their own homeland and not welcome at the destination either. It is just a sad story of our time and the lack of compassion within the leadership of our representatives as well. Peace.

Footage: Olara Otunnu speech on Ugandans forgetting history as it is “living in the moment” (25.02.2017)

UNSOM: Somalia’s electoral process most discussed topic in public places (04.01.2017)

somali-election

MOGADISHU, SOMALIA – Somalia’s landmark electoral process has dominated discussions in public places across the Horn of Africa country over the past few months, as Somalis examine the democratic progress the country has made after years of civil war.

Scores of political analysts gather daily to debate and share views about the ongoing process, which will culminate in presidential elections later this month. Conversations are animated and go on for hours, with breaks only for meals or refreshments.

At a popular hotel in Mogadishu recently, newly elected member of the House of the People, Sadik Warfa, of Puntland state, expressed his thoughts on the electoral process to a group of colleagues.

Warfa described the delegates system, adopted by the National Leadership Forum to guide the electoral process, as an illustration of the country’s evolution towards representative governance.

“We have passed the era when elders picked MPs. I see it as a step in the right direction for the Somali people,” Warfa said.

The MP voiced his optimism about the post election period and looks forward to debate in parliament.

“When the House of the People holds its first sitting, the priority will be to hold the government accountable. It should have oversight responsibility to represent the views of the Somali people, ” Warfa told a keen audience, gathered around his table.

At another table, Liban Abdi Ali, a political analyst and former journalist, delved deeper into the issue of local media coverage of the electoral process.

“In my view, they (media) were focusing on conflict, like a candidate’s clan, which group he belongs to and such issues; although they are supposed to focus on each candidate’s experience, knowledge, achievements and political agenda,” Liban said.

He expressed disappointment at the media’s inability to organize political debates prior to the elections.

At the far end of the restaurant, author and political analyst Abukar Sheikh Ahmed questions the decision to push back universal suffrage until 2020, saying there was no public voting or campaign.

“Most of the candidates knew their target (delegates) and they were campaigning in parliament and within their clans,” Abukar argues.

Somalia’s electoral process, which is currently in its final stages, has seen voting taking place in five federal states and Mogadishu. At the conclusion of the electoral exercise, two hundred and seventy five members of the House of the People will have been elected from South West, Puntland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubbaland and Somaliland states; and Banaadir region.

A further 54 members of the Upper House will also have been elected.

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Somalia (29.12.2016)

somali-election-2

NEW YORK, United States of America, December 29, 2016 –  The Secretary-General welcomes the inauguration of the new Federal Parliament of Somalia on 27 December 2016 and warmly congratulates the people of Somalia on this historic achievement in their quest for universal suffrage by 2020.

The Secretary-General urges the new Parliament to now maintain the momentum by moving swiftly to complete the electoral process, with the election of the Speakers of both houses and the Federal President. The Parliament should tackle urgent legislative priorities, including establishing a permanent Constitution of Somalia, in the larger interest of the people of Somalia.

The Secretary-General calls on the authorities to fill all remaining vacant seats in the Parliament expeditiously, while fulfilling their obligation to ensure that the seats reserved for women are filled by women. He emphasizes that any irregularity, abuse, or malpractice reported by the federal and state electoral bodies should be fully addressed to preserve the credibility of the process.

The Secretary-General commends the hard work of the Somali security forces and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in providing a secure environment for the 2016 electoral process in Mogadishu and in the regional capitals. The successful inauguration of the Parliament marks further progress in ensuring political stability and security in Somalia.

Somalia: International Community Gravely Concerned Over Decisions Of National Leadership Forum On Electoral Process (27.12.2016)

somali-election-2

The United Nations, African Union, European Union, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States are gravely concerned over a number of decisions announced by the National Leadership Forum (NLF) in its communiqué dated 24 December 2016.

Today’s inauguration of the Federal Parliament represents a step forward in the electoral process. However, international partners wish to see the electoral process go forward with the existing 54 seats in the Upper House as stipulated under Somalia’s Provisional Constitution. Any further expansion of the Upper House should only be contemplated after the presidential vote has been held in the new federal parliament and implemented through a proper constitutional process.

International partners acknowledge the NLF’s communiqué of 26 December 2016 that designates five seats in the House of the People for undergoing a fresh round of voting. But this fails to address a number of other egregious cases of abuse of the electoral process, including seats reserved for women candidates only that were ultimately taken by male candidates.

The NLF’s decision to revoke all disqualifications of candidates made by the country’s electoral bodies for allegedly committing abuses and malpractices represents a blanket amnesty for some of the most blatant irregularities witnessed during this electoral process. It also contravenes the Federal Government’s solemn commitment to respect the rule of law.

If these candidates are allowed to take their seats in Somalia’s tenth parliament, it will bring into question the NLF’s expressed commitment to the principles of accountability and credibility that underpin the entire process. It will also undermine the electoral code of conduct signed by all parliamentary candidates in the spirit of leveling the playing field and ensuring the delivery of a credible process.

International partners strongly believe that elections must be re-run for seats where the voting outcomes were clearly distorted by violence, corruption, intimidation, the unauthorized substitution of electoral college delegates and a failure to set aside one of every three seats for exclusively female candidates. 

International partners call on the federal parliament to issue as soon as possible a timeline for the completion of the process in order to elect the Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the new federal parliament and the Federal President. This timeline should be strictly enforced to avoid yet another postponement in an electoral process that was supposed to have finished earlier this year. There is a particular need to conclude the process swiftly in light of the UN Security Council’s upcoming meeting on Somalia that is scheduled for 19 January 2017.

International partners believe that the integrity of the 2016 electoral process hangs in the balance. More delays and a failure to hold accountable those parties who have committed serious abuses and malpractices will compromise the international community’s ability and willingness to engage with Somalia’s next federal government.

European Countries accept to offer tax-exemptions that benefits Europe while stifling the rest, report claims!

cyprus-tax

“Considering the strong democratic traditions in Europe, and the fact that taxation is considered an issue of great importance to national sovereignty, it seems rather odd that the EU has taken such a negative approach to the inclusion of developing countries in the setting of global tax standards” (Eurodad, P: 33, 2016)

There are in this world, lots of greedy people and states that want to earn on their own benefit and get the little extra without the second party. That is why the European States do what they can to keep as much benefit of businesses inside their own dominion, even as the businesses are earning their profits in developing countries, this is happening with sophisticated business transactions, sweetheart-deals, letter-box companies and stashing profits into tax-havens.

The ones that doesn’t this tactic, this way of earning higher profits and getting better rates on the production; the reality is that European States has worked coherent to avoid their thieving of funds as the taxation deals and openings of the multi-national companies in Europe. So with these possibilities, there comes also the reasoning that the companies do what they can to stifle the European states in their own scheme to keep them. Certainly the countries getting a point on the dollar instead of multiple points on it; they could get a fair trade out of, but when they are tricking the businesses there, the businesses will do what they can to trick out of them too. The Businesses are not in the country out of love, they are there to earn profits and doesn’t’ care how as long as they get. So long the States are having the set-up to be used, they will use them and the citizens will wonder why the sophisticated businesses pay so little why earning fortunes, while the citizens are paying fairly high tax on the dollar.

Just take a look!

pspib-luxembourg-tax-plan-p1-normal

Letter box companies:

“The setting up of letterbox companies is one of the practices used by multinational corporations to avoid paying taxes in countries where their economic activity takes place” (…) “Looking at global investment flows, it is clear that several European countries are major centres providing attractive tax regimes for letterbox companies and thus functioning as conduits for multinationals’ investments. By comparing the statistics of foreign direct investments (FDI), Dutch organisation SOMO shows that the Netherlands is by far the largest exporter of FDI in the world, ahead of much bigger economies such as the United States and China” (Eurodad, P:17, 2016).

Sweetheart deals:

“In November 2014, the LuxLeaks revelations exposed the secret world of Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) – also known as sweetheart deals – which benefited multinational corporations, in some cases with tax rates lower than 1 per cent.89” (…) “Public insight into these kinds of deals is very rare indeed, since they are kept highly confidential. In fact, the LuxLeaks revelations were followed by legal charges against the two whistleblowers, as well as one of the key journalists, who brought the story to the public. The case is still ongoing in Luxembourg (see ‘Lack of whistleblower protection’)” (…) “Other examples of problematic APAs have been highlighted by the European Commission’s state aid cases. For example, APAs played a central role in the tax arrangements between Luxembourg and Fiat, the Netherlands and Starbucks, and Apple and Ireland. In these cases, the European Commission found the tax advantages given to the multinational corporations, through APAs, to be a violation of the EU’s State Aid rules” (Eurodad, P: 19, 2016).

Tax Treaties:

“Another key concern related to tax treaties is that they often include provisions to lower – or remove – withholding taxes on cross-boundary financial flows, and thus can lead to lower tax income in the countries signing on to such treaties, including developing countries. For example, research by ActionAid shows that a tax treaty between Uganda and the Netherlands, signed in 2004, completely takes away Uganda’s right to tax certain earnings paid to owners of Ugandan companies if the owners are resident in the Netherlands” (…) “The underlying problem in the international tax system today is that multinational companies are treated as a collection of ‘separate entities’ even though in reality they function as unified firms, with subsidiaries under the central control of the parent company. In today’s system, subsidiaries of the same company are expected to trade with each other ‘at arm’s length’, as if they did not have any connection to each other” (Eurodad, P: 21-24, 2016).

ubs-secrecy

Bank Secrecy:

“In order to deal with the tax evasion and avoidance risks related to banking secrecy, some developed countries, such as the EU Member States, have agreed to start exchanging information on financial accounts automatically amongst each other” (…) “This means that, for example, the Belgian tax authorities will, automatically and on a periodic basis, receive information on any bank accounts or assets held by Belgians in other EU Member States. The aim of this automatic information exchange is to improve the efficiency of tax collection and prevent taxpayers from hiding capital or assets abroad” (Eurodad, P: 27, 2016).

Interesting findings from European Countries:

“The Austrian government is against full public country by country reporting, and even the European Commission’s proposal for partially public country by country reporting” (Eurodad, P: 41, 2016).

“Belgium generally has a relatively high number of tax treaties with developing countries, but the average reduction in developing country tax rates through these treaties is low. However, that the average does not show is that several of Belgium’s tax treaties with developing countries are ‘very restrictive’. There are also clear indications that Belgium’s tax treaties have significant negative impacts on the developing countries that sign them. A conservative estimate puts the fiscal cost to 28 developing countries at €35 million in 2012”(Eurodad, P: 41 , 2016). “The Belgian tax treaty system is also an issue of concern. A conservative estimate suggests that 28 developing countries lost €35 million in 2012 due to tax treaties with Belgium” (Eurodad, P: 57, 2016).

“The position of the Czech government on the issue of ownership transparency is ambiguous. On the one hand, the new Czech law is very restrictive in terms of access to information in the Czech beneficial ownership register (in fact, it seems that the definition of the “legitimate interest” is so narrow that in practice it will be inaccessible for the public, no matter if they have a legitimate interest or not)” (Eurodad, P: 42, 2016).

The Danish government does not support full public country by country reporting. Instead, Denmark supports the proposal from the European Commission, which would only allow the public to get a partial picture of the activities and tax payments of multinational corporations” (Eurodad, P: 42 , 2016).

“Although the French tax treaties with developing countries on average reduce the tax rates less than most other countries covered in this report, France has eight ‘very restrictive’ tax treaties with developing countries. In total, France also has the highest number of treaties with developing countries among all countries covered by this report” (Eurodad, P: 43, 2016).

The German government has previously worked very actively against the adoption of full public country by country reporting at EU level. Germany remains very sceptical, even towards the proposal from the European Commission, which would only introduce partially public country by country reporting” (…) “Germany’s tax treaties with developing countries are a cause of concern due to the high number of very restrictive treaties. Also of concern is the fact that Germany’s total number of treaties with developing countries is significantly above average” (Eurodad, P: 44, 2016).

apple-double-irish-ec-opto

“Of all the countries covered by this report, the Irish tax treaties with developing countries introduce the highest average reductions on the tax rates of their developing country treaty partners. Among the Irish tax treaties with developing countries are three ’very restrictive’ treaties” (Eurodad, P: 44, 2016).

“Although the Italian tax treaties with developing countries on average reduce the tax rates less than most other countries covered in this report, Italy and the UK are the countries that have the highest number of ’very restrictive’ tax treaties with developing countries” (Eurodad, P: 45, 2016). “An Italian investigation is also ongoing into Credit Suisse Ag. The Switzerland-based group’s parent company is charged with systematically having helped 13,000 Italian clients to hide their assets of more than €14 billion abroad” (Eurodad, P: 73, 2016).

“According to the Financial Secrecy Index, Luxembourg has the highest level of financial secrecy of all the countries covered by this report (and ranks at number 6 at the global level). The government’s position on the issue of public registers of beneficial owners is unclear” (Eurodad, P: 46, 2016). “In spite of the LuxLeaks scandal, Luxembourg has continued to issue a very high number of advance pricing agreements (or ‘sweetheart deals’) to multinational corporations – with a 50 per cent increase during the year following the scandal. This, as well as the fact that Luxembourg generally has a significant amount of indicators of aggressive tax planning, is highly concerning. Also, on the issue of financial secrecy, Luxembourg remains a high concern – currently placed as number 6 at the list of the world’s most secretive countries” (Eurodad, P: 79, 2016).

“Netherlands currently has some extremely restrictive tax treaties with developing countries, which make it difficult for those developing countries to collect taxes. Netherlands generally also has more tax treaties with developing countries, and is more aggressive in negotiating the lowering of tax rates in developing countries, than the average among the countries covered in this report. In addition, the government does not levy withholding taxes on outgoing payments to tax havens, which would be an effective anti-abuse measure that would not require lengthy treaty renegotiations” (Eurodad, P: 46, 2016). “Leaked EU documents show that the Netherlands is attempting to undermine EU plans to tackle harmful tax practices by introducing a minimum tax rate of 10 per cent for royalties and interest payments. They reveal that the Netherlands has proposed exceptions in the plans for its patent box provision, which can reduce taxation on revenues resulting from research and development to 5 per cent. This provision, which is a key component of the Dutch tax system, would be threatened by a 10 per cent minimum rate” (Eurodad, P: 82, 2016).

bermuda-norway

“Norway has a high number of ‘very restrictive’ tax treaties with developing countries” (Eurodad, P: 47, 2016). “Norway’s tax treaty with Benin completely prevents Benin from taxing royalty payments to Norway. This is problematic since multinational corporations can use royalty payments between subsidiaries to minimize their profits and thereby avoid taxes in the countries where they have business activities” (…) “Norway does not have a patent box. It does however have a very favourable tax regime for shipping companies, albeit in line with EU countries’ legislation. Shipping income is tax-exempt and qualifying companies instead pay a small tax based on the tonnage of its vessels” (Eurodad, P: 84, 2016).

“Poland has a significant number of ‘very restrictive’ tax treaties with developing countries” (Eurodad, P: 47, 2016).

“Spain has on average been the second most aggressive negotiator when it comes to lowering developing country tax rates through tax treaties. Spain also has a relatively high number of tax treaties with developing countries, which gives even more reason for concern” (Eurodad, P: 48, 2016). “Wealthy Spanish people have doubled their money stashed in Luxembourg (more than €13 billion) – afraid of uncertainty and looking for lower tax rates” (…) “Inside Spain, the Canary Islands (located close to the African Atlantic coast) have a special economic and tax regime that make them “one of the most profitable tax regimes in Europe”, according to PwC. A tax rate of 4 per cent for companies located there is one of the several tax benefits. Special incentives also are applied in Ceuta and Melill” (Eurodad, P: 90-91, 2016).

“Sweden has four ‘very restrictive’ tax treaties with developing countries” (Eurodad, P: 49, 2016).

“Together with Italy, the UK has the highest number of ‘very restrictive’ tax treaties with developing countries. On average, the UK’s tax treaties with developing countries contain relatively high reductions in developing country tax rates. The fact that the UK at the same time has the second highest number of treaties with developing countries gives even more reason for concern” (Eurodad, P: 49, 2016).

If this isn’t eye-opening, than I don’t know, but it shows the systematic state of easy taxation to benefit big-business, the multi-national companies, so they can set-up show and get grander profits, while the states works the perks between them to settle score. The negotiations and the tax-havens gives more space for the companies to fuel money out of Europe and of the Developing Countries, which hurts all sort of government operations as the end-game is that the government doesn’t get the supposed tax-base as that flee to offshore or overseas where the taxations is lax or non-compliance with the place the business actually operates. We all should get our MPs, Senators, MEPs, Governors and all other Elected Representatives, to take action against this sophisticated thieving from the Multi-National Companies and the Representatives who opens the gates for this activity. Peace.

Reference:

EURODAD – ‘Survival of the Richest – Europe’s role in supporting an unjust global tax system 2016’ (15.11.2016).

Open Letter – “Re; Addressing the escalating Human Rights Crisis in Ethiopia” (08.09.2016)

EthiopiaProtest

To Permanent Representatives of
Members and Observer States of the
UN Human Rights Council

Geneva, 8 September 2016

RE: Addressing the escalating human rights crisis in Ethiopia

Your Excellency,

The undersigned civil society organisations write to draw your attention to grave violations of human rights in Ethiopia, including the recent crackdown on largely peaceful protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions.

As the UN Human Rights Council prepares to convene for its 33rd session between 13 – 30 September 2016, we urge your delegation to prioritise and address through joint and individual statements the escalating human rights crisis in Ethiopia.

An escalating human rights crisis in Oromia and Amhara regions

The situation in Ethiopia has become increasingly unstable since security forces repeatedly fired upon protests in the Amhara and Oromia regions in August 2016. On 6 and 7 August alone, Amnesty International reported at least 100 killings and scores of arrests during protests that took place across multiple towns in both regions. Protesters had taken to the streets throughout the Amhara and Oromia regions to express discontent over the ruling party’s dominance in government affairs, the lack of rule of law, and grave human rights violations for which there has been no accountability.

Protests in the Amhara region began peacefully in Gondar a month ago and spread to other towns in the region. A protest in Bahir Dar, the region’s capital, on 7 August turned violent when security forces shot and killed at least 30 people. Recently, on 30 August, stay-at-home strikers took to the streets of Bahir Dar again and were violently dispersed by security forces. According to the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE), in the week of 29 August alone, security forces killed more than 70 protesters and injured many more in cities and towns across Northern Amhara region.

Since November 2015, Ethiopian security forces have routinely used excessive and unnecessary lethal force to disperse and suppress the largely peaceful protests in the Oromia region. The protesters, who originally advocated against the dispossession of land without adequate compensation under the government’s Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan, have been subjected to widespread rights violations. According to international and national human rights groups, at least 500 demonstrators have been killed and hundreds have suffered bullet wounds and beatings by police and military during the protests.

Authorities have also arbitrarily arrested thousands of people throughout Oromia and Amhara during and after protests, including journalists and human rights defenders. Many of those detained are being held without charge and without access to family members or legal representation. Many of those who have been released report torture in detention. The continued use of unlawful force to repress the movement has broadened the grievances of the protesters to human rights and rule of law issues.

The need for international, independent, thorough, impartial and transparent investigations

Following the attacks by security forces on protesters in Oromia earlier this year, five UN Special Procedures issued a joint statement noting that “the sheer number of people killed and arrested suggests that the Government of Ethiopia views the citizens as a hindrance, rather than a partner”, and underlining that “Impunity … only perpetuates distrust, violence and more oppression”.

In response to the recent crackdown, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has called for “access for independent observers to the country to assess the human rights situation”. Ethiopia’s government, however, has rejected the call, instead indicating it would launch its own investigation. On 2 September, in a public media statement, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights reiterated the UN High Commissioner’s call to allow a prompt and impartial investigation led by regional or international human rights bodies into the crackdown.

There are no effective avenues to pursue accountability for abuses given the lack of independence of the judiciary and legislative constraints. During the May 2015 general elections, the ruling EPRDF party won all 547 seats in the Ethiopian Parliament.

Ethiopia’s National Human Rights Commission, which has a mandate to investigate rights violations, has failed to make public its June report on the Oromia protests, while concluding in its oral report to Parliament that the lethal force used by security forces in Oromia was proportionate to the risk they faced from the protesters. The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions has rated the Ethiopian National Human Rights Commission as B, meaning the latter has failed to meet fully the Paris Principles.

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, who met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at the margins of the European Development Days in June 2016, has called on all parties to refrain from the use of force and for a constructive dialogue and engagement to take place without delay. On 28 August, after the EPRDF party’s general assembly, Prime Minister Hailemariam reportedly ordered the country’s military to take any appropriate measures to quell the protests, which he described as illegal and aimed at destabilising the nation. Following a similar call regarding the Oromia protests, security forces intensified the use of excessive force against protesters.

A highly restrictive environment for dialogue

Numerous human rights activists, journalists, opposition political party leaders and supporters have been arbitrarily arrested and detained. Since August 2016, four members of one of Ethiopia’s most prominent human rights organisations, the Human Rights Council (HRCO), were arrested and detained in the Amhara and Oromia regions. HRCO believes these arrests are related to the members’ monitoring and documentation of the crackdown of on-going protests in these regions.

Among those arrested since the protests began and still in detention are Colonel Demeke Zewdu (Member, Wolkait Identity Committee (WIC)), Getachew Ademe (Chairperson, WIC), Atalay Zafe (Member, WIC), Mebratu Getahun (Member, WIC), Alene Shama (Member, WIC), Addisu Serebe (Member, WIC), Bekele Gerba (Deputy Chair, Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC)), Dejene Tufa (Deputy General Secretary, OFC), Getachew Shiferaw (Editor-in-Chief of the online newspaper Negere Ethiopia), Yonathan Teressa (human rights defender) and Fikadu Mirkana (reporter with the state-owned Oromia Radio and TV).

Prominent human rights experts and groups, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have repeatedly condemned the highly restrictive legal framework in Ethiopia. The deliberate misuse of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation’s overbroad and vague provisions to target journalists and activists has increased as protests have intensified. The law permits up to four months of pre-trial detention and prescribes long prison sentences for a range of activities protected under international human rights law. Dozens of human rights defenders as well as journalists, bloggers, peaceful demonstrators and opposition party members have been subjected to harassment and politically motivated prosecution under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, making Ethiopia one of the leading jailers of journalists in the world.

In addition, domestic civil society organisations are severely hindered by one of the most restrictive NGO laws in the world. Specifically, under the 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation, the vast majority of Ethiopian organisations have been forced to stop working on human rights and governance issues, a matter of great concern that has been repeatedly raised in international forums including at Ethiopia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

This restrictive and worsening environment underscores the limited avenues available for dialogue and accountability in the country. It is essential that the UN Human Rights Council take a strong position urging the Ethiopian government to immediately allow an international, thorough, independent, transparent and impartial investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed in the context of the government’s response to the largely peaceful protests.

As a member – and Vice-President – of the Human Rights Council, Ethiopia has an obligation to “uphold the highest standards” of human rights, and “fully cooperate” with the Council and its mechanisms (GA Resolution 60/251, OP 9). Yet for the past ten years, it has consistently failed to accept country visit requests by numerous Special Procedures.

During the upcoming 33rd session of the Human Rights Council, we urge your delegation to make joint and individual statements reinforcing and building upon the expressions of concern by the High Commissioner, UN Special Procedures, and others.

Specifically, the undersigned organisations request your delegation to urge Ethiopia to:

    1. immediately cease the use of excessive and unnecessary lethal force by security forces against protesters in Oromia and Amhara regions and elsewhere in Ethiopia;
    2. immediately and unconditionally release journalists, human rights defenders, political opposition leaders and members as well as protesters arbitrarily detained during and in the aftermath of the protests;
    3. respond favourably to country visit requests by UN Special Procedures;
    4. urgently allow access to an international, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into all of the deaths resulting from alleged excessive use of force by the security forces, and other violations of human rights in the context of the protests;
    5. ensure that those responsible for human rights violations are prosecuted in proceedings which comply with international law and standards on fair trials and without resort to the death penalty; and
    6. fully comply with its international legal obligations and commitments including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and its own Constitution.

Amnesty International
Article 19
Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Civil Rights Defenders
DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
Ethiopian Human Rights Project
FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative
Freedom House
Front Line Defenders
Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect
Human Rights Watch
International Service for Human Rights
Reporters Without Borders
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

TPLF Special Forces brutal beating protesters in Amhara Region (Youtube-Clip)

In northern Ethiopia, the Amhara resistance is getting momentum (Youtube-Clip)

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