EU Parliament Hearing on Development Aid and Human Rights in Ethiopia

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Mr. Ben Rawlence, researcher, Human Rights Watch, presented the findings of the report, “Development without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia” before the European Union’s Parliament Sub-Committee on Human Rights on March 14, 2011.

The Sub-Committee has agreed on the seriousness of the issue raised in the Human Rights Watch’s report, and has ordered the European Commission to come back with data of how and where the billions of dollars in development aid have been spent in Ethiopia. It is not clear whether the European Commission plans to collect the data itself – independent of the Ethiopian regime, which many have accused of fabricating development and growth data for political reasons. For instance, the Financial Times, a respected business publication, has called the GDP data from the Zenawi government as “dubious statistics.”

The Human Rights Watch’s report outlines how development aid is politicized in Ethiopia under the Meles Zenawi government to punish dissidents and reward loyalists of the ruling party. Mrs. Anna Gomez, a Member of Parliament of the European Union and an observer of the 2005 Ethiopian elections, which were marred by the violent aftermath, also testified that the Zenawi government was a Marxist-Maoist authoritarian regime that controlled all aspects of its citizens.

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EU Parliament Hearing on Development Aid and Human Rights in Ethiopia