The artist Baba’s cremation

The Ethiopian Government adopted the Proclamation to Provide for the Registration and Regulation of Charities and Societies (CSP) in 2009. The CSP was enacted to regulate and control the activities of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). The government of Ethiopia raised three major justifications that gave rise to this proclamation. The first and main argument is that human rights work is political in nature. Hence, it should be left only for Ethiopians with no support from foreign sources including support in terms of finance. Other grounds often raised also relate to human rights organizations that were involved in the 2005 election in Ethiopia through domestic observation as well as voter and civic education. In addition to this, the government also argued there is an inappropriate use of resources by CSOs that called for a more rigid law to register, manage, and monitor these organizations through oversight and monitoring.

The CSP define Ethiopian charities and societies as:
Organizations formed under the laws of Ethiopia, all of whose members are Ethiopians, generate income from Ethiopians and wholly controlled by Ethiopians. Ethiopian charities and societies are deemed Ethiopian if not more than 10% of their funds are derived from foreign sources.

The CSP under its article 14 also provides that “activities such as the advancement of human and democratic rights, the promotion of equality of nations and nationalities and peoples and that of gender and religion…” can only be conducted by Ethiopian charities and societies.
Before the actual enactment of the CSP, the women rights movement in the country could be described as being active. The women rights movement lobbied for a change of discriminatory laws. It also contributed to the enforcement of severe penalties on Gender-Based Violence. The women’s right movement enhanced access to justice through the provision of free legal aid and related assistance services for needy women and victims of violence. Women’s rights organizations also provided a representation of cases at court and further supported reconciliations among litigating parties.

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