Rights, Civil Society:
Ethiopia throttles rights organisations

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ADDIS ABABA - As Ethiopia was elected to the UN Human Rights Council, a major German charity closed its Addis Ababa office in protest against a restrictive political environment.
The Heinrich Boll Foundation, an NGO that promotes democracy and human rights, was forced to restrict its mandate to mostly environmental work in the three years since the law came into effect.

Known as the “Charities and Societies Proclamation”, the law has become notorious for granting government latitude for interference, surveillance and direct involvement in the management and operations of NGOs.

The Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association had their bank accounts frozen in December 2009, while the country’s oldest rights organisation, the Human Rights Council, had assets amounting to half a million dollars frozen last month.

According to government spokesperson, Bereket Simon, the purpose of the NGO law is to limit foreign intervention. /IPS (END//2012)

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