U.N. human rights chief urges new leadership in Ethiopia to live up to promises of improving human rights situations
By Dawit Kebede
Awramba Times (Addis Ababa) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, who was in Ethiopia following the nation’s historic transition of power, arged the new leadership of PM Abiy Ahmed to take the initiatives of improving human rights situations in the horn Africa nation.
During his official visit in Ethiopia from April 14 – 17, 2018, the High Commissioner held talks with the newly elected Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed, Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu, newly appointed Speaker of the House Muferihat Kamil, Ethiopian Human Rights Commissioner, Officials from Oromia Regional State, Addis Ababa University community and different parts of the society in and outside the capital Addis Ababa.
“We all want to see an Ethiopia with continuous economic development where all people benefit, and where people express their views on public policies, unafraid,” said UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein at the end of his official visit.
Ethiopia has been riven by human rights violations and oppression on protests in Oromia and Amhara regions by those demanding equality in the last three years.
“Moments of transition are rarely ever smooth. Ethiopia has struggled with a heavy history, but it has the wisdom of a tolerant, vibrant, youthful population to harness,” said Mr. Zeid, encouraging the authorities to keep the positive momentum going and to keep translating the inspiring words in the Prime Minister’s inaugural address into action.
The High Commissioner added that, following the inaugural speech of the Premier, he was “deeply impressed” by the renewed interest, hope and commitment all Ethiopians have demonstrated. This renewed feeling of the People would give further impetus to Government’s ongoing efforts to bring about social justice in the country, he underlined in his his exclusive interview with the state run, Ethiopian television, at the end of his visit.
The High commissioner added, he has reitaterated that he has taken pleasure with the idea that the speech by Prime Minister Abiy fully embraced the basic Declaration of Human Rights.
While discussing with PM Abiy, Zeid Al Hussien noted he has visited several regions of the country and has been able to witness a new chapter unfolding in the development of human rights and democracy in Ethiopia.
Expressing his contentment for being able to visit areas outside Addis without any restrictions, High Commissioner Zeid noted his talks particularly with Aba Gaddas and Officials of Bishoftu confirmed the longstanding Ethiopian culture of democracy that has transcended millennia.
The High Commissioner pledged to support the Government of Ethiopia in its commitment to fulfill the high demands of the wider public for a fast-paced transformation, giving due emphasis to technical and institutional capacity building of the Government, particularly in the field of human rights protection.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to open a Regional Office in Addis that covers 17 Eastern and South African countries. The agreement was signed by Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu and the High Commissioner.
While noting the deep-seated interest to further enhance relations between the African Union and the U.N. Prince Zeid has underscored that Comments and Reports on Africa should fully consider the full dignity of the continent. Zeid said this during the 1st African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) High Level Dialogue on Human Rights held this week at the AUC Hall.
“In this 70th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, when too many leaders risk reversing hard-won human rights gains, we look to Ethiopia to continue to give cause for optimism and hope,” Mr. Zeid said.