Locating Culture in the Best Interest of the Child

The best interest principle is one of the umbrella principles embodied under the CRC which assures the overall development of children to their fullest potential in order to maximize their capacity and become adulthoodThough this principle is a paramount important for the rights of the child, its vagueness impeded its implementation stage due to different wavering concept it has. And the principle of the best interests of the child has been the subject of extensive consideration in academic, operational and other circles.

Member States, parents, communities or any other organs or individuals, who are in charge and care of children and obliged under the CRC, use this legal loophole, which is left undetermined for implementation purposes, interpret it in different ways. As a result of this, the best interest principle left unrealized due to its vagueness, culture, religion and other considerations taken in the implementation of the rights of children. These factors may not always bring about the positive impetus to children in their overall development as was intended by the UN CRC but rather in most of the cases, these factors are seen contravening the spirit and philosophy of the CRC. Furthermore, the roles of parents given under the CRC towards their minor children are determined by parents’ perspectives, culture and religious understandings which many times found contravening the interest of children.

In addition to the above factors, the problems of assessment on the effects of the actions taken towards children are thorny under human understandings. So, obligations towards states, parents or other individuals or institutions imposed by CRC are complicated and difficult to implement because whether the actions taken are best or not to children are unknown at least time wise.

In my discussion, I will address the interpretation of best interest principle in different culture specific actions taken towards children concerning problems of assessment, compatibility of culture and spirit and philosophy of the CRC and the possible legal lacunae created under article 3(1) and article 41 of the CRC.


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ከሠራተኞች መብት አንጻር ትኩረት የሚሹ የግንባታ ደህንነት አንዳንድ ነጥቦች


ለመስፋፋትና፡ ለመመቻቸት፤

ተድላና፡ ደስታ፡ ምቾት፡ ለማግኘት፤

እንረዳው በጣም፡ መነሻ እርካባችን፤

ሠራተኞች ናቸው፡ መቆናጠጫችን፡፡

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Rocks of Hope: Interrogating PM DR Abiy Ahmed’s Reform within the Boomerang Model of Human Rights



As I write this term paper, stream of demonstrations across Ethiopia has continued owing to human rights violations. Human rights and social movements have constitutive relationship. An Ethiopian scholar of human rights focuses on policy outcomes and legal decisions. Scholarship that examines this link in Ethiopia is relatively slow to develop.

Ethiopian People’s Democratic Revolutionary Front (EPDRF) has been attempting to silence social movements. There have been brutal crackdowns. The crackdown on people’s social movement resulted in further resistance. At this stage, the regime is giving locus for dissident voices and we are experiencing glimmer of hope for human rights protection is taking its resonance.  Hitherto, rapid pace of reform is taking place since the appointment of Prime Minister (PM) DR Abiy Ahmed as of April 2, 2018.

Rocks of hope are an engagement citizens have been taking for protection of human rights in Ethiopia. It represents a struggle for justice in the face of injustice.  It represents those who fought for equality in the face of inequality. It connotes optimism followed the reform. These are values of legitimate struggle. Values of legitimate struggle are terse in the Constitution of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Constitution herein after. Under the 7th paragraph of the Preamble of the Constitution, it is provided that the common struggle of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples has brought the peace and the prospects of democratic order of the country.

In human rights language, Boomerang Model is the strategy of identifying human rights violations someplace and then generating attention in order to bring pressure to bear on the perpetrators back in the country of concern. Repressive regimes may be subject to internal and external pressures to conform with human rights norms. In response, they may consider concessions to secure trade advantages, or because they have been ashamed for not conforming to the standards of the international community.

The theme of this term paper is interrogating the reform within the Boomerang Model. It deals with the resistance paid to bring the reform and the responses and steps taken. The pace of reform will be assessed in terms of the ramifications it has on human rights protection. It ends with conclusion and recommendation.

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Contemporary Violations of Human Rights in Ethiopia in light of Tripartite Human Rights Obligations



“The world can never be at peace unless people have security in their daily lives.”

UNDP. 1994. Human Development Report 1994.

When governments or non-state actors do horrible, cruel and unjust things to their citizens we are now likely to describe those actions as violations of human rights-instead of simply saying that they are unjust, immoral, or barbaric. Human rights are not just illusions they are certain basic entitlements tied to all human beings irrespective of any status.

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The Control of constitutionality of laws - (A comparative analysis between Ethiopia and Nigeria)

1.      Introduction

This essay examines the normative contemporary constitutional law question ‘how constitutionality of laws is controlled?’ under Ethiopian and Nigerian Federal Systems. In constitutional terms, both this question and federal systems require a written constitution that serve as a fundamental or basic law and placed hierarchically at the highest peak.

Federalism with written constitutions is one of the hallmarks of the Ethiopian and Nigerian political system. In both countries there are constitutionally entrenched distribution of powers between States and federal government to enact law, to execute and adjudicate as means of modern attempt to accommodate democratic complexity and pluralism. In exercising these constitutionally entrenched powers, the possibility of enacting inconsistent and ultra virus laws and hence, disputes regarding the constitutionality of laws is inevitable. The federal and state laws should be consistent not only with the terms and conditions of the federal constitution i.e. considered as a Basic Law but also should exist in harmony with each other. The settling of disputes concerning the constitutionality of laws is essential in federal systems and takes distinct form. Irrespective of its distinct form, the constitutionality of laws is one of the central problems of Constitutional Law that must be addressed in any federal states.

The objective of this essay is therefore; to compare how Ethiopia and Nigeria arrange the control of constitutionality of laws in their federal structure the aim of which is to guarantee and ensure the observance of hierarchy of legal norms and rule of law. In doing so, the essay is divided in to four sections. Section I explore the methods of controlling Unconstitutional Provisions and provide list of possible solutions for comparison. Section II demonstrates the general background and legal basis for application of control over unconstitutional provisions in Ethiopia and Nigeria. Section III compares the two countries method followed by conclusion under Section IV.  


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Access to Justice and Legal Aid in Ethiopia

This is a brief article I wrote for the internal newsletter of the EHRC; it never got published due to delays in the coming out of the newsletter. I have planned to update it with additional information on recent events such as the new mandate of the MoJ to provide assistance to ‘women and children’ in civil cases. The intensified criminal legal aid activities of the Public Defenders Office under the Federal Supreme Court should also be mentioned. Finally, one should be wary of the current status of CSO/NGO legal aid programs in light of the post-Charities and Societies Proclamation challenges. As far as I can tell, the only ones that have survived are those supported through the EHRC funding initiative. Anyway, I believe the original version could serve as a starting point until I (or someone else) can come up with a revised version. So, here it is.

2.    Meaning and Recognition as a Right

The right of access to justice generally guarantees that every person has access to an independent and impartial process and the opportunity to receive a fair and just trial when that individual’s liberty or property is at stake. However, access to justice does not always involve judicial recourse but the availability of accessible, affordable, timely and effective means of redress or remedies.

Access to Justice is recognized under the international human rights instruments Ethiopia has ratified including: the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the  African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC). For instance, articles 7 and 8 of the UDHR and article 14 of the ICCPR state that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to effective remedy against violations of fundamental rights.

Access to justice is also recognized as a right in the FDRE Constitution. At the outset, the rights and standards recognized in these international and regional instruments become part of Ethiopian law upon ratification. Since Ethiopia has ratified all of the above listed international human rights agreements, the rights recognized therein including access to justice have become part of the domestic law. Moreover, Article 37(1) of the Constitution expressly guarantees access to justice to all citizens. This constitutional provision reads:

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What is the 'good' in good governance?

1. Introduction

The purpose of this piece is to highlight the link between good governance and democracy. Through an examination of the key components of both, it argues that the two concepts are indeed one and the same: ‘good governance’ is but a sanitized name for ‘democratic governance’. (I have to admit a level of dislike for the term ‘good governance’ which, for me, suggests that it is an option rather than an obligation tied to a set of fundamental rights.)

2. Meaning and Elements of Good Governance

The word ‘governance’ is a noun normally used to designate a system or manner of government, the act or state of governing, or control or formal authority and as a synonym for management, administration, direction, or control. So, taken literally, ‘good governance’ would mean a good system of government, good standard of governing, or good practice in exercising formal authority to govern. While this literal translation may be applicable to many instances of everyday use, such as corporate governance or organizational governance, good governance takes an additional meaning with reference to the management of public affairs. In this sense, it describes

“…the transparent and accountable management of human, natural, economic and financial resources for the purposes of equitable and sustainable development” within “a political and institutional environment that upholds human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law”.

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The Right to Bail in Cases Involving Sexual Offences against Children

1 Introduction

This post was originally prepared for use in the internal publications of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission in an effort to strengthen the engagement of the Commission in protecting and promoting the rights of victims of sexual offences while at the same time ensuring the due process rights of the accused. However, it never got to see the light of day for reasons unrelated to its content. Now that we are done with the adoption of a criminal justice administration policy and taking up the revision of the criminal procedure code, it may be time to give it another try.

Children are the most vulnerable individuals in our society; they are also the most precious commodity that the world has and have a right to be protected from all forms of abuse

2  Trends in the Prevalence of Sexual Offences against Children

Sexual offences, especially those against children, are among the least reported offences in countries like Ethiopia. This has to do with the private nature of the settings in which the offences take place, the relationship of vulnerability between the victims and perpetrators, cultural tolerance of some forms of sexual violence against children, inaccessibility of the formal legal system to child victims and their families and other structural causes. Whatever the case, it is impossible to draw a comprehensive picture of the prevalence of sexual offences against children in Ethiopia.

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Assessment of National Response to Child Labor in Ethiopia

This post, which was originally part three of a larger report, seeks to assess the national response to child labour in Ethiopia in light of the international standards identified in the previous part of the report. The assessment principally focuses on the ratification of international instruments relevant to child labour and harmonization of legislation with their stipulations. Since Ethiopia does not yet have a comprehensive policy on child labour, the assessment does not directly cover issues that have to be addressed though the policy framework.

1.    Ratification of International Instruments

Ethiopia is a signatory to the UDHR and has ratified the major international human rights instruments including the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) as well as the ACHR and the ACRWC. The ILO Convention Minimum Age Convention 138 (1973) and ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour 182 (1999) have also been ratified.

Table 1: Status of Ratification of Major Child Labor Instruments

International Instrument

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Conceptions of Access to Justice

The development of this concept paper/article has been informed by a facebook posting on the meaning of access to justice in the Ethiopian context. In commenting on that post, I have mentioned the various meanings that can be attributed to ‘access to justice’. Here is what I meant. Access to justice could be understood in various ways among which the three major conceptions are: as a right recognized under the international human rights framework, as an approach to public sector institutional reform, and a comprehensive rights-based development framework.

2 Access to Justice as a Right

Access to justice and fair trial are rights recognized under the major international and regional human rights instruments including: the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC). The core instruments on the issue, the UDHR and the ICCPR, state that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to effective remedy against violations of fundamental rights. Thus, access to justice is a fundamental right that generally guarantees every person access to an independent and impartial process and the opportunity to receive a fair and just trial when that individual’s liberty or property is at stake. However, access to justice does not always involve judicial recourse but the availability of accessible, affordable, timely and effective means of redress or remedies.

3 Access to Justice Approach

The ‘access-to-justice approach’ has brought important implications on the conceptual understanding of access to justice. The approach has a broader scope covering “the full panoply of institutions and devices, personnel and procedures, used to process, and even prevent, disputes in modern societies” rather than the focus on access to legal institutions and their services. In the access to justice approach, access to legal services has become part of wider strategies aimed at legal and institutional reform, and achieving equal and equally effective access to law.

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