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A delegation from the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights, which visited Ethiopia earlier this month, was told there was “no time” to host them on a pre-arranged visit to a prison close to Addis Ababa. German Barbara Lochbiler, who led the delegation, said the incident at Kaliti Correctional Facility overshadowed their visit and subsequent findings.
“Visiting the Kaliti Correctional Facility was one of the things we had planned to do, as we had already received confirmation from the Ministry of Federal Affairs that we would be able to do so. Unfortunately, after we arrived at the facility on the day of the visit, we were told that visitation has been cancelled as the concerned body had no time to receive us,” said Jacek Protasiewicz, a Polish committee member.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Ms Lochbiler raised her concern that the fact the delegation was not allowed to visit the correctional facility simply meant there was something to hide on the government’s side. The delegation also said that they will seek further explanation from government officials concerning the matter.
The delegation’s visit included meetings with representatives of the government, the parliament and opposition parties as well as representatives of civil society organisations.
They also noted some encouraging improvements regarding human rights such as the adoption of the National Human Rights Action Plan.
The efforts of the Ethiopian authorities in the fields of economic and social rights in relation to poverty alleviation were acknowledged, but the group stressed that civil society organisations should be allowed to function freely without any interference, harassment and undue restriction.
“The Ethiopian authorities should acknowledge the important role of civil society actors in reaching their ambitious development objectives. The restrictive NGO framework should be urgently revised,” said Ms Lochbihler.
The anti-terrorism law also came under fire because of reports of misuse. The committee members called for the release of all journalists, members of the opposition party and others that have been detained or imprisoned.
They also said the 2015 Ethiopian elections should be an occasion for the government to affirm its commitment to democratic principles. They called on the authorities to address a range of short comings seen in the last general election, in 2010.
The delegation also congratulated the AU on its achievements, regarding its work on peace and security.