United States passes bill against human rights offenders in Ethiopia

The United States Congress today passes HRes128 on Ethiopia, which among others may lead to imposing  travel bans and asset freezing of Ethiopian government officials, who are accused of committing crimes against humanity if the country fails to cooperate with UN human rights violations investigators.

“Great News, Congrats to the many diaspora groups and individuals that worked hard to get the HRes128 pass,” twitted Felix Horne, Ethiopia and Eritrea Researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Earlier before the decision the Human Rights Watch has said: “Ethiopia is at a crossroads. Imperative the US Congress passes HR 128 and encourage Ethiopia to lift the state of emergency”.

HRes128 demands Ethiopian government to open its doors to independent investigators to check the human rights abuses, killings of civilians, etc. Otherwise the country’s politicians and generals who are allegedly involved in the crimes against humanity during the EPRDF era will faces travel bans and asset freezing, as per the Magnitsky Act approved during President Obama.



Condemns: (1) the killing of peaceful protesters and excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces; (2) the detention of journalists, students, activists and political leaders who exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly and expression through peaceful protests; and (3) the abuse of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to stifle political and civil dissent and journalistic freedoms.

Urges: (1) protesters in Ethiopia to refrain from violence and from encouragement or acceptance of violence in demonstrations, and (2) all armed factions to cease their conflict with the Ethiopian government and engage in peaceful negotiations.

Calls on the government of Ethiopia to:

  • lift the state of emergency;
  • end the use of excessive force by security forces;
  • investigate the killings and excessive use of force that took place as a result of protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions;
  • release dissidents, activists, and journalists who have been imprisoned for exercising constitutional rights;
  • respect the right to peaceful assembly and guarantee freedom of the press;
  • engage in open consultations with citizens regarding its development strategy;
  • allow a United Nations rapporteur to conduct an independent examination of the state of human rights in Ethiopia;
  • address the grievances brought forward by representatives of registered opposition parties;
  • hold accountable those responsible for killing, torturing, and detaining innocent civilians who exercised their constitutional rights; and
  • investigate and report on the circumstances surrounding the September 3, 2016, shootings and fire at Qilinto Prison, the deaths of persons in attendance at the annual Irreecha festivities at Lake Hora near Bishoftu on October 2, 2016, and the ongoing killings of civilians over several years in the Somali Regional State by police.

Calls on such government to repeal proclamations that:

  • can be used to harass or prohibit funding for organizations that investigate human rights violations, engage in peaceful political dissent, or advocate for greater political freedoms;
  • prohibit those displaced from their land from seeking judicial redress;
  • permit the detention of peaceful protesters and political opponents who legally exercise their rights to freedom of expression and association; and
  • limit peaceful nonprofit operations in Ethiopia.

HRes128 calls on: (1) the Department of State to review security assistance and improve oversight of U.S. assistance to Ethiopia; (2) the U.S. Agency for International Development to lead efforts to develop a strategy to support improved democracy and governance in Ethiopia; and (3) the State Department, in cooperation with the Department of the Treasury, to apply appropriate sanctions on foreign persons or entities responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights committed against any nationals in Ethiopia;.

Supports the peaceful efforts of the Ethiopian people to exercise their constitutional rights.