Ethiopia rejects UN Commissioner’s remark on terror convictions
Addis Ababa, July 20 (WIC) – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said it ‘categorically and unreservedly’ rejects a remark made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights against recent terror convictions in Ethiopia.
Commissioner Navi Pillay on Wednesday said she is ‘‘seriously alarmed’’ about a ‘‘climate of intimidation against human rights defenders and journalists in Ethiopia’’ from the use of “overly broad” anti-terrorism and civil society laws.
“The Commissioner’s comments were erroneous, without factual basis and highly selective and they seriously impugned the independence of Ethiopia’s judicial system,” the Ministry said in a statement sent to WIC.
The UN Commissioner’s remark came following Federal High Court’s sentencing of 20 individuals convicted of terror charges to prison terms ranging from eight years to life imprisonment.
MoFA statement said the defendants were tried and convicted in an open court on the basis of detailed evidence of participation in criminal activities, asserting that they were neither tried nor convicted on the basis of content of any writing or opinion.
“The defendants were convicted under due process of law, and their rights, guaranteed by the Constitution and in full accordance with Ethiopia’s international legal obligations, have been and remain fully respected,” the statement further said.
MoFA said the Commissioner’s remarks negate the universally accepted norms and principles that guide the work of UN Office of the High Commissioner and “poorly reflects” the objectivity, impartiality and independence expected from the Commissioner’s High Office.
The statement also defended the Charities and Societies and the Anti-Terrorism laws of the country stating that they are “fully consistent with the Constitution of Ethiopia and of Ethiopia’s international obligations.”
“Ethiopia has provided all the necessary responses and clarifications to the question raised in relation to these laws by the Special Rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council,” the statement added.
The statement also indicated that the Government is in the process of adopting a comprehensive National Action Plan for Human Rights in Ethiopia in which the High Commissioner’s Office as well as other stakeholders are involved.
The statement concluded stating that such remarks are “unhelpful” towards enhancement of cooperation between the office of the High Commissioner and the Government of Ethiopia and favored renewed future cooperation.
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