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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Decline in Rule of Law Seen in New Data Released by Freedom House, Ethiopian govt. major offender

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day


- Washington Update
- Today's Top HEADLINES


Washington, D.C - A global decline in the rule of law, particularly in Africa and Asia, was a major political development, data released today by Freedom House indicated.

According to the subcategory findings from Freedom in the World 2007, the most notable change in freedom in 2006 was global deterioration in judicial independence, due process rights, protection from torture, and freedom from war and insurgencies. These declines occurred in geographically and culturally diverse countries such as Chad, South Africa, Somalia and Ethiopia, as well as Afghanistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.(More...)


- DIRECTION FOREIGN POLICY SHOULD TAKE UNDER NEW BRITISH PM - by Tom Porteous, director of Human Rights Watch

...The UK and the United States should stop working hand in glove with repressive dictatorships which are responsible for torture, arbitrary detention and suppression of non-violent opposition. This policy is playing into the hands of exactly those radical groups it is designed to contain, bolstering the popularity of forces that advocate political should also acknowledge and criticize the serious abuses carried out by governments that are recipients of UK development assistance such as Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.(More...)

- Lewit - No Court Session
- A Millennium Resolution: Never Take Wrong Historical Turns Again!
(Network of Ethiopian Scholars, NES)
- The Constitutional Rights of the Accused must be Respected!
(Ethiopian Human Rights Council, EHRCO)
- International Rally to Free Ethiopian Civil Society Leaders on Thursday (Join activists around the world on 28 June 2007 in calling for the acquital of anti-poverty activists in Ethiopia)
- Despite rain, hundreds of Ethiopians Rally in Wiesbaden
- World 'ignoring' Eritrea media crackdown
- Somali officials escape assassination attempts
- Brown takes over as UK prime minister
- CIA reveals Cold War secrets
- Nine killed in Israeli Gaza raids
- Protesters torch Iran gas stations


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Washington Update

By Mesfin Mekonen

Markup of HR 2003, the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007, delayed. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs committee postponed “markup” (the step immediately before a subcommittee vote) of HR 2003 in response to urgent communications from the State Department.

Officials from the Meles regime informed the State Department that going ahead with the markup would prevent the release of political prisoners. The Meles regime claims that if the markup is delayed it will release the prisoners within 10 days. Congressional staff expressed skepticism about the Ethiopian government’s true intentions, but said the U.S. Congress does not want to stand in the way of releasing the prisoners.

Meles has now made it absolutely clear to anyone who doubted it that he is holding Kinijit leaders, Journalists and civic group for purely political reasons and that he is treating them as hostages.

This blatant attempt to coerce Congress should reinforce its determination to enact HR 2003 and take other steps to encourage democracy and human rights in Ethiopia .

Members of Congress will be watching to see not only if the prisoners are released, but also whether they receive medical attention to help them overcome the horrors of their extended imprisonment, and that they are permitted to resume their efforts to create a peaceful transition to real democracy.

In addition to HR 2003, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) has introduced H.R.2228, the Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2007. Rep. Smith was the first member of Congress to introduce legislation promoting democracy and human rights in Ethiopia . The introduction of two bills with similar goals in the current Congress has created some confusion. Rep. Smith has agreed to support HR 2003 when it comes to the floor of the House.

It is essential that all Ethiopians contact members of Congress and tell them how important it is for them to co-sponsor and express their support for HR 2003. They could mention that the European Parliament in November 2006 passed a resolution demanding the release of the prisoners of conscience and the resumption of an all inclusive dialogue between the party in power and the opposition.

Amnesty International, in its May 2007 report, concluded that these "prisoners of conscience have not used or advocated violence and were peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, as guaranteed by the Ethiopian Constitution and international human rights treaties which Ethiopia has ratified." The Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned the regime in Addis Ababa for its brutal actions against journalists.

We continue to stay in close contact with Congress, as well as non-profit organizations such as the Just Foreign Policy Group, Amnesty International, Human Rights Group and CPJ.