Statement & Intervention
Joint civil society letter: Ethiopia – Address restrictions in draft CSO Proclamation and protect freedom of association

29 November 2018 – Today, DefendDefenders, with 11 other civil society organisations, released a joint letter to address restrictions in draft CSO Proclamation and protect freedom of association, urging the Government of Ethiopia to ensure that the draft Charities and Societies (CSO) Proclamation complies with regional and international human rights norms and standards relating to freedom of association.

During this time of critical reform, we urge the government of Ethiopia to consider these recommendations and take the following measures:

  1. Ensure that the majority of CSO Board members are sourced from civil society through a transparent appointment process;
  2. Replace provisions requiring an authorisation regime for registration with one requiring simple notification;
  3. Where applicable, reduce the time frame for decisions on CSO registration applications and appeals and ensure that the CSO Agency and the Board provide detailed written grounds for rejecting registration applications;
  4. Include precise and limited justification for under what conditions the CSO Agency can investigate and freeze the assets of CSOs and ensure that they are subject to judicial oversight;
  5. Revise the mandatory cap on administrative costs at 20% of income and replace it with a non-mandatory best practice standard; and
  6. Ensure that all foreign and domestic CSOs operating in Ethiopia, are able to choose the areas they will work in and permit them to engage in lobbying and advocacy initiatives.

Civil society organisations:

  • ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa
  • Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)
  • CIVICUS
  • Civil Rights Defenders
  • Consortium of Ethiopian Rights Organizations (CERO)
  • DefendDefenders (EHAHRDP)
  • FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  • Front Line Defenders
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW)
  • PEN International
  • Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR)
  • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders