U.S. Senate introduces new bill on Ethiopia


United State Senators Feingold and Leahy have introduced a new legislation titled, Support for Democracy and Human Rights in Ethiopia Act of 2010. Read text of the bill below or click here:

To reaffirm United States objectives in Ethiopia and encourage critical democratic and humanitarian principles and practices, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘Support for Democracy and Human Rights in Ethiopia Act of 2010′.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Despite progress and an estimated annual growth rate of nearly 10 percent, Ethiopia remains one of the poorest and most hunger-prone countries in the world, with more than half of the population of 78,000,000 living on less than $1 per day.

(2) Since the collapse of the Derg and overthrow of the Mengistu regime in 1991, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front-led government has overseen the introduction of a multiparty system and the adoption of a new constitution that guarantees economic, social, and cultural rights and states that `human and democratic rights of peoples and citizens shall be protected.’

(3) Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a bloody border war between 1998 and 2000, and, despite the Algiers Accord ending the conflict and the agreement to abide by the final and binding Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission (EEBC) arbitration, the Government of Ethiopia has refused to comply with the final physical demarcation of the border and the Government of Eritrea has expelled the United Nations peacekeeping force, causing regional instability and keeping alive the possibility of a renewed border war.

(4) According to the March 2010 report by the United Nations Monitoring Group on Somalia, `Since the cessation of hostilities between the [Ethiopia and Eritrea] in 2000, Asmara has sought to counter Ethiopian influence in the region and supported armed groups within Ethiopia who oppose the current government. Since 2006, and possibly earlier, Eritrea has supported opposition to the Transitional Federal Government, which it perceives as a proxy for the Government of Ethiopia.’

(5) Sporadic fighting has continued between Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) and armed opposition Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in the Somali Region of Ethiopia. Stringent restrictions continue to be placed on media and aid workers, making it difficult for independent observers and aid workers to monitor or respond to the humanitarian and human rights situation, including the behavior of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, allied militia forces, and the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

(6) Credible sources indicate there are ongoing and serious human rights abuses against civilians in the Somali Region, including arbitrary arrests and detentions by military, police and paramilitary forces; allegations of torture in military and police custody, including sexual violence against women and girls; and diversion of food aid intended for civilian communities.

(7) In the run up to the 2010 elections, the Ethiopian Parliament passed a number of new laws, including the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which severely restrict freedom of expression, freedom of association, peaceful assembly, and the right to a fair trial, while broadening the definition of terrorism.

(8) The Department of State’s 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices states that `although the constitution and law prohibit the use of torture and mistreatment . . . [o]pposition political party leaders reported frequent and systematic abuse and intimidation of their supporters by police and regional militias’ and that `opposition UDJ party president Birtukan Mideksa, whose pardon was revoked and life sentence reinstate in December 2008, remain in prison throughout the year. She was held in solitary confinement . . . despite a court ruling that indicate it was a violation of her constitutional rights’.

(9) In its 2010 Freedom in the World report, Freedom House noted that, in the run up to elections, Ethiopia saw a `narrowing of political activity . . .’ and that `the government cracked down on operations of nongovernmental organizations and . . . a series of arrests of opposition figures’.

(10) The European Union Election Observer Mission noted in its preliminary statement on the May 23, 2010 elections, `The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia administered the electoral process in an efficient and competent manner, but failed to dispel opposition parties’ lack of trust in its independence. While several positive improvements have been introduced, the electoral process fell short of certain international commitments, notably regarding the transparency of the process and the lack of a level playing field for all contesting parties.’

(11) In testimony before the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson stated that `[w]hile the [Ethiopian] elections were calm and peaceful and largely without any kind of violence we note with some degree of remorse that the elections there were not up to international standards,’ and that `[i]t is important that Ethiopia move forward in strengthening its democratic institutions and when elections are held that it level the playing field to give everyone a free opportunity to participate without fear or favor’.

(12) On May 25th, 2010, the National Security Council’s spokesman Mike Hammer, released a statement which noted with concern that `The limitation of independent observation and the harassment of independent media representatives [in Ethiopia] are deeply troubling . . . [and that an] environment conducive to free and fair elections was not in place even before Election Day.’ The statement also noted that `[i]n recent years, the Ethiopian government has taken steps to restrict political space for the opposition through intimidation and harassment, tighten its control over civil society, and curtail the activities of independent media. We are concerned that these actions have restricted freedom of expression and association and are inconsistent with the Ethiopian government’s human rights obligations.’

SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF POLICY.

It is the policy of the United States–

(1) to support and encourage efforts by the people and Government of Ethiopia–

(A) to achieve a participatory multiparty democracy, an active and unhindered civil society, rule of law and accountability, judicial capacity and independence, freedom of the press, respect for human rights, and economic development; and

(B) to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat extremism and terrorism in a manner consistent with international law;

(2) to promote peace and stability, equal access to humanitarian assistance regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, or political views, and good governance, transparency, and accountability;

(3) to seek the unconditional release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia, and the repeal of laws that enable politically motivated arrests without due process;

(4) to prohibit funding to any unit of the Ethiopian security forces if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights, unless the Secretary certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that the Government of Ethiopia is taking effective measures to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice; and

(5) to seek a resolution of the ongoing dispute between the Government of Ethiopia and the Government of Eritrea consistent with the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission arbitration decisions on border demarcation, to press the Government of Eritrea to cease all support for armed opposition groups in Ethiopia and the region, and to urge both Governments to contribute constructively to stability throughout the Horn of Africa, especially in Somalia.

SEC. 4. SENSE OF CONGRESS.

It is the sense of Congress that the United States Government should–

(1) build on successful diplomatic efforts that contributed to the October 2007 release of political prisoners in Addis Ababa, and press the Ethiopian government to release Birtukan Mideksa, as well as other political prisoners;

(2) urge the Government of Ethiopia to repeal or at a minimum amend the Civil Society Proclamation, the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, and the Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation in order to genuinely protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of all Ethiopian citizens;

(3) press the Government of Ethiopia to allow human rights and humanitarian groups, as well as the media, to have unfettered access to areas of concern throughout the country;

(4) encourage and assist the United Nations and other independent organizations and the media to investigate credible reports of gross violations of human rights or international humanitarian law in the Somali region of Ethiopia, to publish any information of serious abuse, and send consistent messages to the Government of Ethiopia that the continuation of such violations or impunity in this region, or Ethiopia more generally, has consequences for relations between the United States and Ethiopia; and

(5) encourage the Governments of both Ethiopia and Eritrea to immediately take steps to lessen tensions, physically demarcate the border in accord with the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission decision, and promote normalization of relations between the two countries.

SEC. 5. RESTRICTIONS ON ASSISTANCE.

(a) Conditions-

(1) PROHIBITION OF FUNDS- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, assistance may not be provided to the Government of Ethiopia unless the Secretary of State certifies annually that the Government of Ethiopia has taken demonstrable steps–

(A) to ensure the autonomy and fundamental freedoms of civil society organizations to pursue work on civic education, democratization, good governance, accountability, human rights, and conflict resolution, without excessive government intervention or intimidation;

(B) to respect the rights of and permit non-violent political parties to operate free from intimidation and harassment, including releasing opposition political leaders currently imprisoned;

(C) to strengthen the independence of its judiciary, including developing the capacity of the judiciary at the national, regional, and local levels;

(D) to allow Voice of America and other independent media to operate and broadcast without interference in Ethiopia;

(E) to promote respect for human rights and accountability within its security forces, including undertaking credible investigations into any allegations of abuse and ensuring appropriate punishment; and

(F) to ensure that humanitarian and development entities, including those of the United Nations, have unfettered access to all regions of the country without prejudice to the political views of recipients.

(2) WAIVER- The prohibition included in paragraph (1) shall not apply if the Secretary of State certifies in writing to Congress that waiving such a prohibition is in the national security interest of the United States.

(b) Exceptions- The prohibitions in paragraph (1) shall not apply to–

(1) health and HIV/AIDS assistance;

(2) humanitarian assistance; or

(3) emergency food aid.

(c) Report- Not later than 120 days after exercising a waiver pursuant to subsection (a)(2), and every 90 days thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees assessing progress made by the Government of Ethiopia in the areas set forth in subparagraphs (A) through (F) of subsection (a)(2).

SEC. 6. DEFINITIONS.

In this Act the term `appropriate congressional committees’ means–

(1) the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate; and

(2) the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.


22 thoughts on “U.S. Senate introduces new bill on Ethiopia

  1. Aziza on

    conditions of US assistance should include detailed accountability of equity of even distribution to all regions in order to curb unreasonable concentration of socio-economic investments only to a favored region. The ethiopian farmer should be made the recipient of the lion’s share of US assistance through special projects designed to improve the incentive of owning his own land without any subservience to the the ruling party. The Ethiopian constitution should be revised to accommodate basic changes in order to make the country self sufficient in feeding its own people.

  2. Ittu Aba Farda on

    First of all I would like to thank Senators Feingold and Leahy for having our birth place in their thoughts. Such measures would help very much once again to remind the goon from Dedebit that his infractions of basic human and democratic right did not go unnoticed at the higher level in the US legislation. And it is also about time. This snake from some joint up north has claimed to receive 99.6% of the people’s approval when it is well documented the draconian steps he was taking against any one from the opposite. He mugged, intimidated, jailed, killed and made individuals disappear with out traces leading up until the so-called Election Day. His cronies sternly warned farmers in the countryside that they will not get an iota of fertilizers or seeds if they decide to cast their ballots (which is their Allah given inalienable rights) to someone other than his hoddma hyenas. Then he thumbed his nose at the world including the USA for what he did. He even was so emboldened by his sham ‘victory’ that in one of his subsequent ‘press conferences’ told USA to what amounted to ‘take your aid and shove it’. He even said that USA has no idea how his blood sucking regime is managed. From his interviews and brazen act of jamming VOA, this scum of the filthy earth thinks the mighty USA is powerless and they will follow him or bow for him. He is also counting on the on-going existence and threats of Al Shabbab. Al Shabbab is a gift to the goon from Adwa and will continue to be so. If Al Shabbab is gone tomorrow, this ‘Shaitan’ from Adwa will not get a string spaghetti from Uncle Sam and will go back on mulching the ‘beles’ he grew up on.

    On the other hand the situation is very dismal. If this ‘Enver Halil Hoxha’, is somehow ousted, there is no well organized and organized party ready to take over. That will also be a disaster. Let me count the names of the opposition groups for you:, Ginbot 7, ONLF, OLF(If they have stopped gulping missionary cakes), AEUP, Medhin, Medrek, EPPF, Several Afar and Somali groups, EPRP this and EPRP that(It is hard to choose beauty among monkeys), TAND, Sidamo this Sidamo that, Oromo this and Oromo that, Islamic this and Islamic that…I got tired of counting. It looks that most of these grouping are waiting for their turn to loot. After 45-50 years of waiting, just like most my countrymen back home, I am now sick of them.

    Again, The Honorable Senators Feingold and Leahy, many kudos to you. May The Creator Bless you and your families!!! And May God Bless the United States of America!!!! My hope and only hope.

  3. Tenes on

    These politicians are playing the same old tune like their predecessors. This is nothing more than empty lip service to their constituents during a tough reelection bid. Just as Woynne holds its fake election every five years these members of US Senate introduce a new bill on Ethiopia every 6-years; where have I seen this before? I will guarantee you this bill will never make it out of the subcommittee let alone get passed by both floors and signed by the president to become law.
    In reality the US policy in Ethiopia is realized in Meles’s regime. If he was not a perfect puppet he would have been long gone.
    Don’t get caught up with this mambo jumbo.

  4. Anonymous on

    Thank you Senator Feingold and Leahy.Now you are taking your moral leadership.I really appreciate all your efforts.
    Here is my point ,

    As we have seen in Ethiopia,the security apparatus and the defense force are occupied by people from prime Ministry ethnic group.Out of 60 Generals 57 of them are from minority ethnic group called Tigre which is Melese zenawi’s ethnic line.

    This is one of the sources of disappointment in Ethiopia.Melese should be forced by USA to fix this gross ethnocentric politics.

    The other thing is the money that these Ethiopian government officials stole from the poeple of Ethiopia and deposit in American and European Banks.They receive aid and bring that money back to Europe and USA to invest/save.There is strong rummer that they are investing or doing some kind of business in USA by their extended families name.I feel that this should be investigated too.

    How about the money that they paid/are paying to Lobbyist in USA ? They hire lobbyist to block/kill bills that potentially bring peace and prosperity to the country.I think at this time they are thinking to hire DLA pipers to block/kill this great bill.
    While millions are starving,Ethiopian dictator government is paying millions of dollars to Lobbyists in USA.I just do not feel good about this, and this should be investigated too.
    Thank you and Many blessings.

  5. Gigi on

    Good Job! we hope every thing will go forward and puts good wight on the people that are or have power to make a diffirens

    Hope to see one day at least some people living and doing their responsibility as people.

    Most of the time it is not the case. Or we don’t know the case
    why people do the things they do?.

    I don’t understand every thing good enough, about this bill ether,
    but it sounded like it is some thing real and help full to Ethiopia.

    And just because I don’t understand it it doesn’t mean no body
    els can.

    Thank you for this bill and Americas support to good values that it stands for.We will be with you and thank you
    for doing this for us!!!!!!!!(the Ethiopian people).!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    THANK YOU AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Belachew on

    The solusion against the woyane tigray is simple and only one:armed struggle. America or other remote Lomi Tera tera is not the solutsion. We knew that after the Kamplla bombing the Obama administration has decided to work in all sphares with the woyane. the bill is just another gimick.

  7. meles zenawe on

    first must solve ethio-eritrean border and next must change undemocratic geverniment meles seytan.

  8. BizzyBoy on

    Biz as usual! Feingold must have something to do otherwise he is jobless. Ethiopia can only be helped by Ethiopians(EFEBE = Ethiopia For Ethiopians By Ethiopians). Get your a… up and fight for your believes. America will always be with the people who serve well but not with the people who are oppressed. Forget America and stand up! If you don´t get this, the i´m sorry for you and your believes.

    The world is with whom, who act. The world abhors people who do nothing!

  9. Jegnaw Ethiopiawe on

    I dont know all this (BILL) will help Ethiopia from this Woyane Cancer.

    but armed straggle with out any involvement of any nation is very important cos Eritrea,Sudan,Djibouti,or Kenya is not in there best interest to support any united Ethiopian or united armed struggle there for all Ethiopian loving people we should insist and demand to have our resistant group to be independent straggle from outside influence.

  10. Anonymous on

    This needs a coordinated campaign on the diaspora part…the us government has no choice but to expose its stinky behind now…either it stands with ethiopian people or it stands along the butchers of Addis….there are no ifs and buts..

  11. Almaz on

    I am tired of this game. The US had a strong HR bill in 2005 and nothing happened. I am not going to invest too much emotion in this one either, I would put all my money on the TPDM and EPPF over this bill.

  12. yeneta on

    Girma,I had to laugh at your
    Full me once, shame…….
    full me twice, shame on me.
    Please write fool not full. You look a good manifestation of the illiterate die hard extremist Ethiopians residing in the USA.

  13. Theodros Mengesha on

    The Ethiopian political pattern is always ‘getting down’ without any vision for our country and this is chaos. We have seen the consequence when we said, Haileselase ‘woored ‘then Derg ‘Woored’ and now Woyane, Woored’. Very embarrassing. It’s all negativity and lies. How stupid we Ethiopians can be to follow these Illusions with delusion politics of Diaspora.

  14. Assta B. Gettu on

    On paper, the new bill the U.S. Senate has introduced looks good, but I don’t see the bill mentioning the freedom of religion, which has been the vital part for the existence of the Ethiopian people. We have a patriarch in Ethiopia by the name Aba Paulos who has stifled the freedom of the Ethiopian priests, forcing them to worship him and to pay certain amount of money for his luxury. To who shall these Ethiopian priests, deacons, debtras, and monks go to get their freedom of worshiping the true God instead of worshipping Aba Paulos?

  15. Enae on

    #16, people like you make me sick. Knowing the difference between “full” and “fool” doesn’t guarantee having common sense. After all, English for the most of us, is a second and third language. Good spelling is not a measure of intelligence.

  16. Jegnaw Ethiopiawe on

    Enae#19
    I love Ur comment”good spelling is not a measure of inelegant” i might add a little knowledge is dangerous.

  17. George on

    As many pointed out above this bill will never become law. 2 very important things we musn’t forget; the US interest in the region and weyane’s powerful lobbying machine which I am sure by now has already gone on overdrive to kill this bill. So falks, the only change comes from us not from a foreign government. Ethiopia is blessed with heroes, the only problem is we don’t have a unified organization that can mobilise and lead the people to victory. The Ethiopian people have made history in the past, when they rise up nothing stands in their way, but now due to lack of leadership they are being humiliated in front of the whole world by a rag-tag militia turned government.

  18. tulujiru on

    On one hand you give woyanne anything from intelligence assistance to block cyber media to military assistance how to sniper shoot our innocent people and at the same time talk about human rights, rule of law, democracy,election bla bla; all nothing but rhetoric. we dont believe in anything US senate talks until it credibly take objective measure. we never trust you all. if you lie once,you lie forever. period.

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