The Ethiopian Empire State and International Human Rights Laws
The Empire States of Ethiopia is a product of colonial conquest. Ethiopia is formed during the 19the century colonial scramble for Africa after the Abyssinian State, the only Black colonial power that took part in the colonial partition of Africa, conquered the Oromos, Sidamas, Ogadenese and other present day Southern Ethiopian peoples. Because of the conquest, the Oromos and other subject peoples were forcefully incorporated into Abyssinia, which was later on renamed Ethiopia.
As an outcome of a colonial conquest, the essence of the Ethiopian Empire State is the deprivation, oppression, subjugation and exploitation of the conquered peoples’ national, political, civic, cultural, social and economic rights. Stated differently, the defining characteristics of the Ethiopian Empire state, since its formation up to present, are the denial of national rights, human rights, and freedoms to the Oromo and other subject peoples. Furthermore, as the old adage goes, “a nation that oppresses others it not itself a free nation,” the successive Ethiopian regimes did not also respect the human rights and freedoms of its citizens, the Abyssinians.
The successive Ethiopian regimes’ stance on ratification of or accession to International Instruments designed for the promotion and protection of human rights corroborates the Ethiopian Empire State’s long-standing anti-human rights policies. It is a fact of history that the Ethiopian regime led by the late Emperor Haile Sillassie was among few states that did not sign/ratify the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. The Emperor Haile Sillassie regime, which was laboring in consolidation of the colonial conquests and Amharization of the conquered peoples, was engaged in gross violation of human rights, including practice of slavery and servitude failed to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that, among others, abolished slavery and servitude and set standard for human rights protection.
It is instructive to note that, the Emperor Haile Sillassie regime declined from signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with, among others, the then minority apartheid regime of South Africa, the other notorious regime for being anti-human rights. The Ethiopian regime led by Emperor Haile Sillassie became Member of the United Nations on 13 November 1945, but it did not become a party to any Intentional Human Rights Conventions.
A military regime, known as Dergue, led by Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam overthrew Emperor Haile Sillaasie’s regime in 1974. As far as respect for human rights and accession to Intentional Human Rights Conventions is concerned, the Dergue regime continued its predecessor’s anti-human rights policy and practice. The Military regime did not become a party to International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that have entered into force in 1976.
However, apparently following its patron the now defunct Soviet Union, the Ethiopian Military regime became a party to International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 23 June 1976, Convention on the Elimination of All Form of Discrimination against Women, 10 September 1981, and Convention on the Rights of the Child, 14 May 1991.
It is a mockery that the Ethiopian Military regime that failed to be a party to International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, became a party to International Conventions that prohibit racial discrimination, discrimination against women and the Conventions on the Rights of the Child. Unlike the incumbent Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front, (TPLF) led Ethiopian regime, the two preceding Ethiopian regimes did not pretend to be champions of human rights and stayed out of the International Instruments and Mechanisms made and established for ensuring the protections of Human Rights and freedoms.
As a result of the proposal and strong push made in 1991-92 by Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) group who were then a member of Ethiopian Transitional Government, the current Ethiopian regime of TPLF was forced to depart from the positions held by its predecessors and has acceded to the following international human rights treaties: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 11 June 1993, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 11 June 1993, and Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment, 13 March 1994,
Apparently, accession to International Human Rights Treaties were one of the decisions the TPLF regime made as soon as it came to power as a consequence of two significant factors: (1) the proposal and the push the OLF group made to accept ICCPR and ICESCR and (2) the attempt the TPLF Regime made to please its foreign donors. However, the regime’s gross and appalling human rights violation records in the last fourteen years prove a contrary intention. Stated differently, the TPLF regime’s human rights record proves that the TPLF regime’s position on human rights is not any better, if not worse, than its predecessors that were not parties to the International Human Rights Covenants.
The TPLF regime’s engagement in a gross human rights violation of Oromos and other people is being recognized not only by reputable international non-governmental organizations that monitor states’ compliance with international human rights laws, but also by State Members of the United Nations, including the Untied States of America.
The most recent, 2004, US State Department’s Human Rights Country Report on Ethiopia continued to report the abysmal human rights record of the TPLF led Ethiopian Government. The Report summarized that:
The Government's human rights record remained poor; although there were improvements, serious problems remained. Security forces committed a number of unlawful killings, including alleged political killings, and beat, tortured, and mistreated detainees. Prison conditions remained poor. The Government continued to arrest and detain persons arbitrarily, particularly those suspected of sympathizing with or being members of the OLF.
Thousands of suspects remained in detention without charge, and lengthy pretrial detention continued to be a problem. The Government infringed on citizens' privacy rights, and the law regarding search warrants was often ignored. The Government restricted freedom of the press; however, compared with previous years, there were fewer reports that journalists were arrested, detained or punished for writing articles critical of the Government. Journalists continued to practice self-censorship.
The Government at times restricted freedom of assembly, particularly for members of opposition political parties; security forces at times used excessive force to disperse demonstrations. The Government limited freedom of association, The Government's human rights record remained poor; although there were improvements, serious problems remained. Security forces committed a number of unlawful killings, including alleged political killings, and beat, tortured, and mistreated detainees. Prison conditions remained poor. The Government continued to arrest and detain persons arbitrarily, particularly those suspected of sympathizing with or being members of the OLF.
Thousands of suspects remained in detention without charge, and lengthy pretrial detention continued to be a problem. The Government infringed on citizens' privacy rights, and the law regarding search warrants was often ignored. The Government restricted freedom of the press; however, compared with previous years, there were fewer reports that journalists were arrested, detained or punished for writing articles critical of the Government. Journalists continued to practice self-censorship. The Government at times restricted freedom of assembly, particularly for members of opposition political parties; security forces at times used excessive force to disperse demonstrations. The Government limited freedom of association…
The TPLF regime has engaged in gross human rights violation from the very moment it overthrew the military regime and seized the Empire State’s political helm. The TPLF regime’s human rights violation was and is more gross and appalling in Oromia. The most recent report of Human Rights Watch, a reputable international human rights monitoring institution, lends credence to our assertions. The Human Rights Watch reported that, “In Oromia, the largest and most populous state in Ethiopia, systemic political repression and pervasive human rights violations have denied citizens the freedom to associate and freely express their political ideas.
Since 1992, regional authorities in Oromia have cultivated a climate of fear and repression by using state power to punish political dissent in often brutal fashion. Regional and local authorities have consistently harassed and abused perceived critics of the current government. And in the past year, these authorities have taken drastic new steps to consolidate their control over the regions rural population.” 2
The TPLF regimes human rights record does not at all look like a record of a State that is committed for protection of human rights and sincerely acceded to International Covenants of Human Rights. It is rather a human rights record of a typical tyrannical and colonizer state’s human rights record. Contrary to its declarations and accession to International Human Rights Covenants, the TPLF led Ethiopian Government is a tyrannical regime that has engaged in gross violations of human rights and that has no respect for international treaties that it ratified. The TPLF regime is anathema of human rights and rule of law.
It also instructive to indicate here that, the TPLF regime did not intentionally accede to the First Optional Protocol of International Covenant to Civil and Political Rights. Therefore, the regime has not accepted the competence of the United Nations Human Right Committee to receive and consider communications from individuals claiming to be victims of human rights violations protected by the International Covenants that the TPLF regime has ratified. The TPLF regime also is not a party to the Article 41 mechanism of ensuring compliance with the Covenant. It did not accept that a State Party might complain about it when it fails to comply with the Covenant and engages in violation of human rights.
The above discussion and evidence substantiate that all Ethiopian regimes Empire States, were and are essentially anti-human rights. The incumbent TPLF Ethiopian regime also, rhetoric and posturing aside, is in essence perpetuating its predecessor regimes’ anti-human rights policy.
2 Suppressing Dissent- Human Rights Abuses and Political Repression in Ethiopia’s Oromia Region.
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