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Study says terrorism, NGO laws unconstitutional

The Federal Attorney General is going to hold a public hearing on the planned amendment of anti-terrorism and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) laws next month.
Taye Dende’a, public relations and communications director for the Attorney General, told journalists that the meeting will help gather inputs to enrich both laws.
According to him, the public hearing will be conducted from the beginning of September 2018.
In addition to the public hearing, two workshops will be organized, he noted.
In a related development, research from a 10 member legal advisory committee on the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation was presented to the public last Saturday.
Debebe H. Gebriel, presented the study’s findings which criticized the Charities and Societies Proclamation. It referred to the hierarchy of laws when it said the proclamation violated the constitutional rights of citizens and international laws of which Ethiopia is a signatory party.
“The right to association in the constitution is clearly violated by this proclamation,” reads the study. “The law uses financial restriction to monitor the role of civil societies and that rapidly diminishes the role of the nongovernmental institutions and their number too.”
Blen Sahilu said the anti-terrorism law was enacted to implement the political interest of the ruling party. The study argued that this and other laws were made to suppress opposition parties after the 2005 election.
The study attempted to understand why the law was issued in the first place. Ethiopian previously would defend its use of the law at the United Nations Security Council prior to 2005.
Suddenly the government changed its firm stands started to say that there are terrorist threats and presented incidents which happened before 2005 to convenience the council. Also, the country uses its geology to be exposed to possible threats, as Al-Shabab based in the neighboring and stateless country.
The study refers to the resolution of the council which asked why the  anti-terrorism law only for the was necessary for trans-boundary terrorism, but not domestic ones.
The introduction of the proclamation as benchmarked the developed nations anti-terrorism law model was among the hardly pounded arguments by the study. Developed nations which have such proclamation have also various mechanisms and institutions protecting citizen’s human and political rights, according to the study.
The countries which Ethiopia brought the law are now said to improve their law.
Activists, bloggers and opposition party members, some convicted and others suspects, said that the need for the terrorism law in unnecessary as it forms terrorists rather than protecting one.
“Many political party members were forced to enter into armed conflict with the government because of this law and also I am a convicted terrorist just because of my opinions,” Atnaf Brhane of the former Zone-Nine-bloggers said.
Atnaf also presented a third choice to the council to cancel the current proclamation and issue a brand new one.
The Team presented a new approach to the compensation of terrorism victims to cover the damages caused to innocent suspects. Atnaf said the victims who lost several years of their lives, human and democratic rights will be compensated enough if the proclamation is dumped.
“As we are not allowed to speak or distribute information, I and my colleagues would put up posters after midnight when the government argued there was a terrorist threat,” said Yonatan Tesfaye, a former member of Semayawi Party and victim of the proclamation. “The government uses the law and institutions to suppress the rights of citizens especially freedom of expression and the nation is peaceful.”
The vague and broad terminologies of the proclamation were strongly criticized both by the study and participants of the consultation workshop.
“The proclamation forgets the basic principles of legal drafting which is to be general. The case is even more serious in the criminal law,” Blen said. “The law didn’t consider the crime establishing elements, motive, action, and violation of a specific law, to establish a suspect a terrorist,” she said.
The council is going to have a similar consultation with different parties and is planning to finalize its recommendations within a month.


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