The untold story Tariku baba

Ethiopia is also a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), article10 of which guarantees the right to freedom of association. The FDRE constitution states that treaties/conventions that are ratified by Ethiopia are part of the laws of the land. Hence, the CSP violates Ethiopia’s human rights obligation under the ICCPR.

There are arguments that the Ethiopian constitution included claw back clauses as a limitation to the exercise of constitutional rights, including freedom of association. However, the CSP is not limited in its scope. It also applies to women’s rights organizations that function in light of the constitution and which are not involved in “illegally subverting constitutional order.” as defined under the constitution. Hence, the CSP is and has for long been unconstitutional.

Practical difficulties: Women’s right to freedom of association
As discussed above, the FDRE constitution broadly recognizes women rights under Article 35 and women’s right to freedom of association under Article 31. The most restrictive feature of the CSP is its funding precincts. This actually made the application of the right to freedom of association practically impossible. Under the CSP, Ethiopian charities and societies can work on the promotion and advancement of women’s rights if they are able to mobilize a minimum of 90% of their annual budget internally.

This aspect of the law became a big challenge for the sustainability of programs run by many of the women’s rights organizations such as legal aid service. They faced huge obstacles in raising funds from local sources to run legal aid centers. Most of these local CSOs rely on volunteer legal counselors without even covering transportation cost. This volunteer arrangement has affected the service negatively. In addition to this, the budget for the victims’ fund, which used to facilitate women’s access to justice, has been minimal. Court cases, which need representation, could not be handled, as there is no adequate funding for such services. Follow up on cases at courts, police stations, and public prosecution offices cannot be done as much as the demand, as there is a lack of human capital and due to the high cost of fuel.

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