The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) has participated in the 23rd regular session of the UN Human Rights Council held at the UN Geneva Headquarters in Switzerland from May 27 to June 14, 2013. The event particularly hosted by the HRLHA on the past and present human rights situations in Ethiopia took place on the 6th of June, 2013.
HRLHA was represented, at the 23rd regular session, by Mr. Garoma B. Wakessa, the Executive Director of HRLHA and Mr. Tesfaye Deressa, Chief Investigator; and the representatives of HRLHA did presentations on the adverse role of land grab and the encroachments of fundamental rights in Ethiopia, respectively. In his presentation under the title “The Consequences of Land Grab in Ethiopia,” Mr. Garoma elaborated on how local farmers in various parts of the country, in Oromia, Gambella and Benshangul regional states in particular, were evicted from their lands and livelihoods without consent and compensations, and ended up in joblessness and poverty. He has also pointed at how the Ethiopian Government has violated the international laws and instruments that relate to investments and/or developments through partnerships of Transnational Corporations and local governments.
Mr. Tesfaye Deresaa, on his part, in his presentations under the title “The Encroachments of Fundamental Rights” discussed the direct and systematic denials of freedoms of expression, assembly and organization, religion, as well as the overall democracy and rule of law. Mr. Tesfaye underlined that, instead of the promised democracy, the exact replica of absolute authoritarianism of one party rule of the Dergue time has reigned in the country in the past twenty years, and that the democratization process has failed as a result of the denial of the fundamental freedoms.
The two presenters, among other things, reiterated that everything about democracy and fundamental rights was well-written in the Constitution and other relevant documents only to win acceptance by Western donors, and then to remain on paper. Representatives of the Ethiopian Government who attended the event had nothing to say in defending the ruling party, but admit failures and repeat the never unfulfilled promises to fix the problems.
Most of the Horn of African countries were represented by more than one human right organizations, whereas the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa was the only agency to host an event on the current situations in Ethiopia as part of this 23rd regular session of the Human Rights Council.