April 8 Symposium: Human Rights and Diplomacy Symposium

Latest Issue: Volume 19, Issue 1, Symposium: Human Rights and Access to Justice in Ethiopia

Reform of Regulation of Legal Practice in Ethiopia: Does It Improve Access to Justice?

By: Meheret, Tewodros | January 22, 2021

Legal practice has been one of the focus areas of the reform agenda following the appointment of Abiy Ahmed (PhD) as the new Prime Minister of Ethiopia on April 2, 2018 following the resignation of his predecessor. As a response to public discontent which led to the change in leadership, he promised and commenced sweeping changes. Accordingly, working teams were formed under the Advisory Council organized under the auspice of the Attorney General and one of them has been working on regulation of legal practice. It submitted a draft bill to the Office of the Attorney General months back and it is being reviewed by experts of the latter. The draft is expected to be referred to the Cabinet soon. It is worth looking into the existing law to figure out the extent to which the new draft will address the shortcomings of the former in making legal services accessible. One stark criticism against the existing system is that lawyers are licensed and disciplined by the Office of the Attorney General (the former Ministry of Justice), which is a party in all criminal and in some civil cases. The independence of the profession is compromised, which adversely affects the exercise of right to counsel. The new law markedly departs from the existing law as it broadens its scope by introducing new elements such as the establishment and regulation of statutory bar and law firms, and it reforms the existing system such as continuing legal education and pro bono services. Examination of the draft is necessary to determine whether it meets international standards and best practices so as to ensure accessibility, effectiveness, and quality of the service.

Disability Rights are Human Rights: Pushing Ethiopia Towards a Rights-based Movement

By: Akalu Iyassu, Sirak,McKinnon, Fiona | January 22, 2021

Official estimates suggest that 95 percent of Ethiopia’s disabled live under the poverty line and are unemployed. To get by, many must beg or depend on family and friends. The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the ministry responsible for enforcing rights of disabled people, is a paper tiger, toothless at that. Recent data suggest that only one percent of Ethiopian buildings and roads are fully accessible to the disabled. Yet accessibility is not only a physical, but also a social, cultural, and political sine qua non—and so a matter of human rights. Rights of Ethiopia’s disabled have been quashed or ignored for millennia. Generations have grown up in a society shaped by church dogma, which construes disability as the result of sin, a source of shame. Whether disability is physical or cognitive, regardless of an affected person’s courage and capacity to cope, the disabled have been excluded from many aspects of life. Barring a lucky few (including one author), Ethiopia’s disabled can hope for charity at best, but at worst may be hidden from neighbors, driven from their homes, and forced to beg to survive. The untapped potential is enormous. Data is deficient, but the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 17.6 percent of Ethiopians live with disabilities. Most are not helpless, yet an overwhelming majority remain uneducated, unemployed, and so denied the dignified lives that human beings deserve. Given recent changes in Ethiopia, however, all this could change.

Multiple Legal Orders in Ethiopia: An Impediment on the Enforcement of Women Rights

By: Alemayehu, Daniel E | January 22, 2021