Conceptual and Methodological Framework for Human Rights Monitoring

This material was initially prepared in 2010 as part of a background document for developing a national human rights report for Ethiopia. Its publication here is intended to serve as an input for individuals and groups interested in preparing a human rights monitoring report as well as informing discussion on the assessment of existing or future human rights monitoring reports. God willing, I hope to follow it up with a brief assessment on implementing access to justice in Ethiopia as per this framework.

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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.

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Legal Empowerment of the Poor

Beginning in the early 1990s, Africa in general and the Greater Horn in particular, have been experiencing a major ground swell of social, economic, cultural and political changes. While the movement towards fundamental political change is remarkable, certain formidable challenges will make the transition to a stable, democratic and pluralist system of governance very difficult. The cultural, historical, political and socioeconomic conditions of this troubled region are not simply too conducive to the emergence of strong democratic polity. This is indeed the context within which the poor's legal empowerment must be recognized. It is difficult to anticipate and legally protect rights when from Darfur to Northern Uganda, from the Red Sea to the banks of the Zaire; genocidal marauders go left unchecked by the international community.

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የሰበር ሰበር ስልጣን በኢትዮጵያ የህግ ስርዓት ውስጥ ያለው እንድምታ፡- ህገ- መንግስታዊ መሰረትና በዝርዝር ህግ ውስጥ የሚካተትበት አግባብ

የኢትዮጵያ የህግ ስርዓት በተለያዩ የመንግስት የአስተዳደር ስርዓት ውስጥ በልዩ ልዩ ጉዳዮች ላይ ልዩነቶች ሲታዩበት የነበረ ቢሆንም አደረጃጀቱም የዚያኑ ያክል ተለዋዋጭነት የነበረው መሆኑ ግልፅ ነው፡፡ በተለይም ከያዝነው ርዕስ ጋር በተያያዘ የፍርድ ቤቶች አደረጃጀትና በጉዳዮች ላይ የመጨረሻ ውሰኔ የመስጠት ሂደት በተለያዩ ስርዓቶች የተለያየ ሂደት ሲኖረው ተስተውሏል፡፡ ከ1980ዎቹ አጋማሽ በፊት የነበሩት ስርዓቶች የአህዳዊ ስርዓትን የሚከተሉ ከመሆናቸው አንፃር የፍርድ ቤቶች አደረጃጀት በዚሁ አይነት አተያይ የተቀረፀ ነበር፡፡

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Responses to Homelessness and its Impacts in Ethiopia

Housing forms an indispensable part of ensuring human dignity since it is essential for health, privacy and personal space, security and protection from inclement weather, and social space.  In this context, “adequate housing” en­compasses more than just the four walls of a room and a roof over one’s head.  However, population growth, migration to urban areas, conflicting needs for existing land, and insufficient financial and natural resources have resulted in widespread homelessness and habitation in inadequate housing. In every country children, men and women sleep on sidewalks, under bridges, in cars, subway stations, and public parks, live in ghettos and slums, or "squat" in buildings other people have abandoned. The United Nations estimates that there are over 100 million homeless people and over 1 billion people worldwide inadequately housed.

In Ethiopia, these problems are felt broadly and in depth throughout urban centers across the country due to various reasons. One major cause is the irregular pattern of urban growth leading to the emergence of slums’ and homelessness. This is especially true for the situation in Addis Ababa where housing is a serious problem in terms of availability and quality. According to one study,

-        75% of the total population of the city is living in overcrowded houses or dilapidated structures, under unhygienic conditions, lacking basic urban services like safe drinking water and sewage, and in sprawling informal settlements with growing number of shacks.

-        85% of the housing structures in Addis Ababa are dilapidated and would have to be demolished or rehabilitated in a costly manner. They are in their major without the minimum basic infrastructure such as flushing toilets and connection to the sewer system.

-        An estimated 80% of the 150,000 kebele houses have serious problems of maintenance and are in a very bad shape. Up to 50% of the population is without fixed employment.

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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 labor 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 must be addressed through the policy framework.

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The Right to Bail in Cases Involving Sexual Offences against Children

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.

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What is the 'good' in good governance?

This piece aims to highlight the link between good governance and democracy. Examining the key components of both 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 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.)

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Access to Justice and Legal Aid in Ethiopia

I wrote This brief article 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 assist ‘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 develop a revised version. So, here it is.

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Fair Practice under Copyright Law of Ethiopia

The purpose of copyright law is not to ensure the owner of copyright a maximum economic benefit, rather to balance the right of the copyright owner to obtain a fair return and society’s interest in access to and use of information. As a result, the copyright law does not only provide exclusive right to the copyright owner, but also exceptions to the exclusive right and allow the use of copyrighted work by third parties in certain circumstances.

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