Ethiopia: Elections Signal Need for U.S. Policy Change

Washington

In advance of Ethiopia’s elections scheduled for May 24, Freedom House issued the following statement and policy recommendations:

“The Ethiopian government’s disregard for international standards for free and fair elections as it prepared for voting should convince the United States that it must rethink and shift its relationship with that government,” said Mark P. Lagon, president of Freedom House. “For Ethiopia to represent a stable, reliable ally in the region, U.S. security and economic assistance must be accompanied by Obama administration strongly urging it take tangible steps to strengthen civil society’s voice, good governance, and democracy.”
 
Policy Recommendations 

  • Reallocate a portion of the economic and security assistance to programs dedicated to supporting democracy.
  • Push for creation of a special U.S. fund that could become a source of outside support for Ethiopian human rights and democracy groups.
  • Regularly request that visiting U.S. officials obtain access to detention centers where journalists, human rights defenders and other political prisoners are being held.
  • Pursue a strict application of all laws and regulations, including the Leahy Law, that ensure security assistance does not go to perpetrators of human rights abuses.
  • Include in the USAID country development strategy clear guidance on the importance of supporting independent media in Ethiopia, to promote freedom of expression, ensure accountability of government, and fight corruption.

Ethiopia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2014

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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