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UN human rights chief hopeful after his visit

Our goals should be the same: to ensure that the human rights of all in Ethiopia are fully respected,’ stated UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein while speaking about working with the government during his official visit to Ethiopia this week.
The commissioner was invited to do a follow up mission by the Ethiopian government, since his last visit in May 2017.
“During my last visit in May 2017, I had listened attentively to many voices – Government, opposition, civil society and detainees at the Kilinto remand centre. I found much to praise but also gave a frank assessment of the human rights issues and challenges in Ethiopia and called for my Office to be given access to Oromia and Amhara Regions, the two most affected regions by the protests, many of which were suppressed violently.”
“I am encouraged that the Government viewed my initial visit in the constructive, friendly spirit it was intended to convey. This is certainly not always the case with all States. So when I received an invitation to conduct a follow-up mission, which included visiting the Oromia region, I accepted,” the commissioner said in a statement.
During his mission in the Oromia region, the Commissioner stated that he heard clear expressions of optimism and hope that the new Government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed would deliver on the heartening and inspiring speeches he has made during his first three weeks in office.
“We heard of the Prime Minister’s recognition of “the need to address existing inequities that led to recent unrest”, that “democracy cannot be realised in the absence of rights – be it civil or economic rights” and that the “right of people to express opinions, rights of people to organise themselves and engage in effective dialogue and participate in the governance system is inherent in our humanity…not for any government to bestow…as it sees fit.”,” he said.
The commissioner also met with Oromo traditional leaders ‘the Aba Gadas’ and stated that although he and his team were being accompanied by government representatives, he was struck by the frank and robust expression of grievances by the Aba Gadas.
“The Aba Gadas too spoke of their hopes of working with the new Government to resolve longstanding human rights issues in the region. They spoke about how they will continue to push for the truth to be told about what has happened over the past few years, including during protests where people were killed. They demanded investigations and accountability for excessive use of force by the authorities. They expressed their desire for justice and human rights for all Ethiopians and for their voices to be heard without fear of reprisal,” he said.
During his visit, the commissioner had held talks with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu, Speaker of the House Muferihat Kamil and officials from Oromia regional state, Addis Ababa University community and different parts of the society in and outside Addis Ababa.


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