Abyssinia Law - Made for the People

Log in Register

Log in

Or sign in with your account on:

Not a member yet? Register
You are here: Home Blog Posts Human Rights, Public Policy and Law Blog Ethiopia’s Human Rights Treaty Reporting to the UN Treaty Bodies
15 Jun
Written by 

Ethiopia’s Human Rights Treaty Reporting to the UN Treaty Bodies

INTRODUCTION

Preamble of the United Nations (UN) Charter requires member states and the people of the UN “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small”. In order to achieve this goal of the charter and secure universal recognition and implementation of human rights to their citizens’ member states of the United Nations entered into seven major human rights treaties.

 

The seven core international human rights treaties create legal obligations for state parties to promote and protect human rights at the national level. When a country accepts one of these treaties through ratification, accession or succession, it assumes a legal obligation to implement the rights set out in that treaty. In addition to this, state parties to these treaties have also the obligation to report every activities conducted in the name of implementation to the United Nations treaty based bodies. 

Ethiopia as a member of the United Nation and member of these human rights treaties has the obligation to implement the treaties and report its implementation. However, a part from the implementation problem Ethiopia has been criticized for its failure or delay to report its implementation of the treaties. Keeping in mind this criticism related to Ethiopian human rights reporting record, questions and issues related with human rights reporting system with special emphasis to the Ethiopian context is assessed and analyzed under this paper. And, just because human rights reporting are highly related with the rights enshrined under the treaties concepts about some rights are discussed in a summarized fashion.  

 

TREATY REPORTING: Core International Human Rights Treaties

There are many human rights conventions adopted by the United Nations. However, only seven of them with their additional protocols are the core international human rights instruments. These are:

  • The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
  •  The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
  •  The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women;
  • The Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
  • The Convention on the Rights of the Child; and
  • The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

 

With respect to the Ethiopian ratification record of the core human rights documents Eva Brems stated that: 

 

Ethiopia has been a member of the United Nations since 1945. It is a party to six of the seven core human rights treaties. Ethiopia joined the ICERD in 1976, but did not make the declaration under article 14 that would allow individuals to submit complaints to the CERD. It ratified the CEDAW in 1981, but not the 1999 Optional Protocol. In 1991, Ethiopia joined the CRC, but it has not yet taken any action with respect to the 2000 Optional Protocols on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and on the involvement of children in armed conflict. In 1993, Ethiopia joined both the ICCPR and the ICESCR. It has not joined the Optional Protocols to the ICCPR on an individual complaint mechanism (1996) and on the abolition of the death penalty (1989). Ethiopia became a party to the CAT in 1994, but did not make the declaration under article 22 that would allow individual complaints, nor did it join the 2002 Optional Protocol establishing a system of regular visits. Finally, Ethiopia has not taken any action with respect to the ICMW.

 

Since all international agreements ratified by Ethiopia are an integral part of the law of the land of Ethiopia and all federal laws including international treaties are supposed to be published in the Federal Negarit Gazeta, these six core international human rights treaties that are joined by Ethiopia are supposed to be published through Negarit Gazeta in both English and Amharic languages to have an effect of law. However, even though Ethiopia has joined six of the seven core human rights treaties none of it is customized and ratified through Negarit Gazeta pursuant to article 2 (4) of proclamation no. 3/1995.

Whatever the case may be since Ethiopia is a party to six of the seven core human rights treaties, it is expected to implement it and report its implementation to the concerned UN organ.

 

Monitoring Mechanisms of the Core Human Rights Treaties

The main international control mechanism under these conventions is what may be considered the standard mechanism in international human rights protection: state reporting before an international committee. A number of expert committees have been established under particular treaties. Each treaty has its own committee established by the treaties that is expected to monitor the implementation the treaties by state parties to that treaty.

Implementation of the seven core human rights treaties is monitored by the seven human rights treaty-monitoring bodies.

 

1.     The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD);

2.     The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR);

3.     The Human Rights Committee;

4.     The Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW);

5.     The Committee Against Torture (CAT);

6.     The Committee on the Right of the Child; and

7.     The Committee on Migrant Workers.

The committees have many features in common. They are made up of state party nominees who are expected to act in their personal capacity. Each state party may nominate an individual for election to a committee. Election to each committee is by secret ballot. To ensure balanced geographical representation each state may only have one of its nationals on a committee at any one time.

Reporting by states parties is the main mechanism by which monitoring is currently carried out. Each report is supposed to contain information on the measures adopted by a state party to give effect to the rights enumerated in each treaty, progress made in the enjoyment of those rights, and any factors and difficulties affecting the fulfillment of the treaty’s objectives. The treaty bodies perform a number of functions aimed at monitoring how the treaties are being implemented by state parties. All treaty bodies are mandated to receive and consider reports submitted regularly by state parties mandated detailing their implementation of the treaty provisions in the country concerned. 

 

The Committees primarily have a mandate of reviewing the reports produced by state parties on the implementation of rights enshrined under the treaties. The committees have also rules and procedures to review the reports states on the issue that whether a state party is implementing based on the treaties or not.

 

Obligation to Submit Report

As it has been a mentioned earlier once a state is a member of the core international human rights documents, it is exposed to discharge two basic obligations. Firstly, state parties to the core international human rights documents are obliged to stand for the implementation of the rights enshrined under the treaties with in their jurisdiction. In doing this, state parties are supposed to enact laws, establish institutions and take necessary measures that would create a conducive environment for the full enjoyment of rights acknowledged under the treaties. The core international human rights treaties also unanimously use obligatory words such as “shall” and “shall not” to oblige state parties.

 

Secondly, state parties to the treaties are required and obliged by the treaties to report their implementation of the treaties to the concerned committees. Reports periodically made by States concerning the implementation of an agreement’s provisions are means of evaluation and control. This control is necessary in order to find out whether subjects of international law comply with the duties they assumed. Each state party to the treaties is therefore expected to prepare and produce a report on its implementation of the treaties simply because states have consented to be bound by the provisions of the treaties. In this connection, the principle pacta sunt servanda must also be mentioned as provision for the binding character of international agreements and as legitimization for a system of control over their implementation.  Article 19 (1) of CAT, article 18 (1) of CEDAW, article 9 (1) of CERD, article 44 (1) of CRC, article 40 (1) of CCPR, article 17 (1) of CESCR and article 73 of CMW have clearly and beautifully indicate reporting obligation of state parties on the implementation of the treaties to the concerned committees with in specifically indicated period of time.

 

Reporting periodicities under the treaties

 

Treaty

ICERD

ICESCR*

ICCPR

CEDAW

CAT

CRC

ICRMW

CRC-OPSC

CRC-OPAC

Initial report

Within

1

year

2

years

1

year

1

 Year

1

year

2

years

1

Year

2

years

2

Years

Periodic reports

Every

2

years

5

years

4

years

4

Years

4

years

5

years

5

years

5 years or with next CRC report

5 years or with next CRC report

* Article 17 of the Covenant does not establish a reporting periodicity, but gives ECOSOC   

   discretion to establish its own reporting programme.

 

† Article 41 of the Covenant gives the Human Rights Committee discretion to decide when  

    periodic reports shall be submitted. In general, these are required every four years.

  

Ethiopia as a state party to six of the seven core international human rights treaties is duty bound to implement the rights acknowledged under the treaties and report its implementation.

 

Importance of the Reporting

Implementation of the rights enshrined under the core international human rights treaties are highly beneficial the right holders i.e. to all human beings in general and to the citizens of the signatory states in particular. And the United Nations through its treaty based bodies heavily rely on state reporting to ensure that whether treaties are implemented properly or not.  

Treaty reporting will also facilitate a dialogue between the reporting state and others so that the states will have the possibility of identifying problems and solution in relation to implementation of treaties.

It gives opportunity to defend and challenge accusations made by NGOs and others through their shadow reports. It also shows the reporting state’s willingness and eagerness to the protection and promotion of human rights.

 

In the reporting process state parties will also look at all the measures they have taken and identify problems to the implementation of treaties and search for the solution.   

The reporting system is an important tool for a state in assessing what has been achieved, and what more needs to be done, to promote and protect human rights in the country. Generally, the fact that states are blamed and criticized for violation of human rights publicly before the UN Committees will cause “shaming” for reporting the state. And fearing such kind of shaming states give more emphasis to the implementation of rights guaranteed under the treaties.    

 

The Reporting Cycle and its process 

 

The human rights reporting obligation requires complying with all the process of reporting by the state parties. And the reporting obligation has its own process and sequence. The reporting process is guided by the guidelines produced by the treaty based bodies in order to ensure the uniformity of reports. If each state party prepare and come up with its own way, it will be difficult to handle the reporting process by the Committees. And each committee has a guideline on how state parties discharge their reporting obligation of the treaties. State parties may be required to prepare and submit their report based on article-by-article approach or based on random detailed questions asked by specific Committees.  One way or another assuming that each Committee has a guideline on the process of reporting treaty it is essential to assess the common reporting cycle and processes.    

 

a.    Submission of Report

The starting point of treaty reporting is preparation and submission of state parties reports to the concerned Committee. All the core international human rights treaties clearly indicate that there should be a regular reporting setup. In almost all treaties the period of submission of initial and periodic reports is indicated and where the period of submission of reports by state parties are not indicated in treaties, it will be determined by the concerned Committee. And state parties are supposed to deliver their report within the time specified under the treaty or determined by the concerned Committee.     

 

b.    Adoption and Sending of List of Issues and Questions

The concerned Committee receives and discuss on the state party’s report in its pre-session preparation. And if the Committee found any kind of violation or concern or question, it will design and adopt a list of issues and questions from the report of state parties that will facilitate an oral dialogue at the formal session between the delegation of the reporting state and the concerned Committee. This procedure helps the parties to supplement additional and updated information in the formal session and also helps to prepare in advance on the challenge that the state party faces in the formal session.  

 

c.     Replies to the List of Issues and Questions

The reporting state receives the list of issues and questions from the concerned Committee and is expected to submit its replies to the Committee. The reporting state should clearly and specifically respond to the points raised under the list of issues and questions in its reply. Reporting states are normally requested and appreciated if they reply to the list of issues and questions in a written form that is limited to a maximum of 30 pages.   

 

d.    Conducting Constructive Oral Dialogue

This is the stage where constructive oral dialogue is expected to take place. The reporting state’s delegation presents the paper to the committee and then responds on the points raised under the list of issues and questions. They may also be requested to answer questions raised from members of the committee on the spot.

 

e.    Issuance of Concluding Observation and Recommendation

In the adoption of list of issues and constructive oral dialogue the committee point out positive aspects of the reporting state’s efforts in the implementation of the treaty and may mention its concern. Concluding observations on state reports do not normally use the language of 'violations'. They express 'concerns' - although some matters of concern would manifestly constitute human rights violations if they were considered by a court. In addition to the observation and recommendation the committees may sometimes indicate obstacles in the implementation of the treaty and may also require the reporting state additional information on some areas. For instance, the Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of all kinds of Racial Discrimination required the Ethiopian government to provide additional information after the constructive dialogue on. The observation and recommendation of each and every Committee on reports of state parties will be made available to the public through different ways.     

 

f.      Follow Up

After the Committees forward their recommendations together with their observation on the reports of state parties regarding implementation of the treaties, they have additional task. That is they make a follow up on reporting states whether those state parties comply with the recommendation or not.    

 

ETHIOPIA AND TREATY REPORTING

Reporting History of Ethiopia   

 

One of the problems that is noted in the literature with respect to the reporting mechanism before the UN committees is the huge delay that builds up because states report late or not at all. Taking this problem as the main problem with regard treaty reporting, it is critical to see whether Ethiopia submitted its reports within the specified period of time or not or not at all submitted its reports. 

 

Report on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of  Racial Discrimination (CERD) 

Under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Ethiopia delivered its initial report in 1978, second periodic report in 1979, third periodic report in 1981, fourth periodic report in 1984, fifth periodic report in 1985, sixth periodic report in1988 and the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth periodic reports were submitted together as one document in 2008. Totally it has submitted seven reports in this convention. Therefore, we can definitely say that Ethiopia has a perfect reporting record and there is no due dated report as to this convention even though ten of the reports are submitted after their due date and in a combined manner. Ethiopia was expected to provide additional information within one year from 27 August 2009 (from the last date on which Ethiopian report is examined by the committee) i.e. up to 27 August 2010. However, Ethiopia does not provide the requested additional information to the committee.      

 

Ethiopia is also invited to submit its next reports (i.e. the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth periodic reports) together in a single document, due on 23 July 2013. 

 

CERD

Due

Received

Examined

Initial

23-Jul-77

04-Apr-78

27-Mar-79

Second periodic

23-Jul-79

24-Sep-79

28-Mar-80

Third periodic

23-Jul-81

27-Oct-81

09-Mar-82

Fourth periodic

23-Jul-83

02-Mar-84

15-Aug-84

Fifth periodic

23-Jul-85

29-Nov-85

18-Mar-87

Sixth periodic

23-Jul-87

22-Apr-88

10-Aug-90

Seventh periodic

23-Jul-89

01-Oct-08

27-Aug-09

Eighth periodic

23-Jul-91

01-Oct-08

27-Aug-09

Ninth periodic

23-Jul-93

01-Oct-08

27-Aug-09

Tenth periodic

23-Jul-95

01-Oct-08

27-Aug-09

Eleventh periodic

23-Jul-97

01-Oct-08

27-Aug-09

Twelfth periodic

23-Jul-99

01-Oct-08

27-Aug-09

Thirteenth periodic

23-Jul-01

01-Oct-08

27-Aug-09

Fourteenth periodic

23-Jul-03

01-Oct-08

27-Aug-09

Fifteenth periodic

23-Jul-05

01-Oct-08

27-Aug-09

Sixteenth periodic

23-Jul-07

01-Oct-08

27-Aug-09

Additional information

27-Aug-10

 

 

Seventeenth periodic

23-Jul-13

 

 

Eighteenth periodic

23-Jul-13

 

 

Nineteenth periodic

23-Jul-13

 

                                                

Report on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

Under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)) Ethiopia delivered its initial, second and third periodic reports in a combined manner in 1993, its fourth and fifth periodic reports in 2002 and its sixth and seventh periodic reports in 2009. The sixth and seventh periodic reports are not still examined by the committee. But, as far as information gathered from the FDRE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice the Ethiopian government has prepared its responses to the list of issues and questions with regard to the consideration of the sixth and seventh periodic reports of Ethiopia on CEDAW. The Committee has also received the responses of Ethiopian Government and examined 11 – 29 July 2011. If we formally calculate the period of reporting, Ethiopia’s eighth periodic report should be submitted 10th October 2010. However, Ethiopia is not invited to submit its report by the Committee.

 

CEDAW

Due

Received

Examined

Initial

10-Oct-82

22-Apr-93

19-Jan-96

Second periodic

10-Oct-86

22-Apr-93

19-Jan-96

Third periodic

10-Oct-90

22-Apr-93

19-Jan-96

Fourth periodic

10-Oct-94

25-Sep-02

26-Jan-04

Fifth periodic

10-Oct-98

25-Sep-02

26-Jan-04

Sixth periodic

10-Oct-06

28-Jul-09

[pending Jul-11]

Seventh periodic

10-Oct-06

28-Jul-09

[pending Jul-11]

Eighth periodic

10-Oct-10

 

 

 

Report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CAT) Ethiopia delivered its initial report in 1995, second periodic report in 1999 and third periodic report in 2005. Ethiopia has also a perfect reporting record in this convention even though all the three reports were submitted after the due date that Ethiopia was expected to submit its report. There is also no due dated report.

Ethiopia is expected to submit its fourth and fifth periodic reports in a combined and single document in 12 December 2011.

CRC

Due

Received

Examined

Initial

12-Jun-93

10-Aug-95

09-Jan-97

Second periodic

12-Jun-98

28-Sep-98

11-Jan-01

Third periodic

12-Jun-03

27-Apr-05

12-Sep-06

Fourth periodic

12-Dec-11

 

 

Fifth periodic

12-Dec-11

 

 

 

Report on the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)

 

Under the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) Ethiopia has not delivered a report at all. For the reason that is not known Ethiopia has not submitted its report and has a poor reporting record in this covenant. And for the first time in Ethiopian reporting history it has delivered its initial report to the human rights committee in 2009. The committee in its 99th session adopted a list of issues on the initial report designed to facilitate the oral dialogue between the delegation of Ethiopia and the committee at its 102th session to be held in July 2011 and requested the Ethiopian government to prepare and submit a written replies.

CCPR

Due

Received

Examined

Initial

10-Sep-94

27-Jul-09

[pending]

Second periodic

10-Sep-99

 

 

Third periodic

10-Sep-04

 

 

Fourth periodic

10-Sep-09

 

 

 

Report on the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)

Under the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) also Ethiopia had not delivered its report for a long period of time. However, it has submitted its initial, second, third and fourth periodic reports in a compiled single document in 2009 and the committee does not still examined it. After its report is examined by the committee it will deliver its fifth report on 30 June 2015.

CESCR

Due

Received

Examined

Initial

30-Jun-95

28-Aug-09

[pending]

Second periodic

30-Jun-00

28-Aug-09

[pending]

Third periodic

30-Jun-05

28-Aug-09

[pending]

Fourth periodic

30-Jun-10

28-Aug-09

[pending]

Fifth periodic

30-Jun-15

 

 

 

Report on the Convention Against Torture (CAT)

The same is true in this convention and Ethiopia had not reported its implementation of the rights guaranteed under this convention for a long period of time. Considering criticisms due to the overdue of report from different angles the Ethiopian government delivered its report in 2009 and conducted oral dialogue through its delegation with the committee and the committee has examined it.

 

CAT

Due

Received

Examined

Initial

12-Apr-95

28-Jul-09                                

[pending]

Second periodic

12-Apr-99

 

 

Third periodic

12-Apr-03

 

 

Fourth periodic

12-Apr-07

 

 

 

Generally, the Ethiopian reporting record under the CERD, CEDAW and CRC can be categorized as an excellent record and it’s reporting under CSECR, CCPR and CAT can be categorized as a reporting record under improvement. The ICCPR and ICESCR may be considered the main human rights treaties, because they include general human rights catalogues, applicable to all individuals and together protect almost all human rights. Moreover, the Convention Against Torture concerns what is arguably the most serious human rights violation that should be on top of the list of any state's priorities. Ethiopia’s poor reporting record under these three treaties can be taken as a serious failure in the reporting arena. Ethiopia has been the member of ICCPR and ICESCR since 1993 and CAT since 1994. That means Ethiopia has been the member of these treaties before seventeen and eighteen years but responded to the question of reporting after sixteen years. Even though Ethiopia joined these three treaties under the leadership of the current regime, the regime does not focus in the reporting of implementation of these treaties for a long period of time. On the other hand the regime gave a special attention to the reporting of other treaties that are joined earlier and by former regimes. Therefore, it can be taken as there unbalance of reporting between the treaties that are ratified in recent periods and earlier periods.

This unbalanced picture might be due to the fact that Ethiopia joined the CEDAW and CRC earlier, and hence, responsibilities for reporting have been assigned and procedures have been set in motion that may not yet have been cleared out for the other conventions.       

Whatever the case may be Ethiopia until now delivered sixteen reports to the UN Committees; twelve of these are examined by the Committees and the remaining four of it are pending and under the examination process.  Four of the reports that are under examination by the UN Committees are adjourned to receive responses to the list of issues, for oral dialogue between the Ethiopian government delegation and the concerned Committees and other related jobs. And there are no overdue reports from the side of Ethiopia except failure to submit additional information on the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination that due on 27 August 2010.     

      

Reporting Body

Considering the detailed processes of reporting it is obvious that there should be a competent body that can efficiently and properly discharge the treaty reporting obligation of states. And the organ that is responsible to carry out the duty of treaty reporting is supposed to discharge reporting state’s obligation of report in all the process of reporting starting from the preparation of reports to the follow up process.

Coming to the Ethiopian experience in relation to the reporting organ there is no specifically assigned body that is responsible to carry out the obligation of human rights treaty reporting obligation. However, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia supervise the overall treaty reporting of Ethiopia currently based on the newly ratified proclamation no. 691/2010 under article 15 (4) and previously based on proclamation no. 471/2005 article 25 (9). According to both provisions of the two proclamations Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the power and duty to ‘ensure the enforcement of rights and obligations arising from treaties signed by the Ethiopian Government except in so far as specific power has legally been delegated to other organs’. Pursuant to these provisions MOFA is supervising the treaty reporting of Ethiopia.

Basically, the provision does not directly and clearly oblige MOFA to carry out all the reporting activities by its own. It merely obliges MOFA to make sure that whether Ethiopia’s obligations arising from treaties including the human rights reporting obligation are respected by Ethiopia or not. The ministry is only expected to check whether other organs are discharging their obligation or not. And if the assigned bodies are not discharging their obligation, it should take a necessary measure in helping the organs to discharge their obligations. But, the problem is there is no organ that is assigned by law to carry out the Ethiopian duty of human rights reporting and it is not clear how MOFA ensure the enforcement of obligations arising from treaties. MOFA is not also mandated to enforce the obligations arising from treaties rather it is mandated to ensure the enforcement of obligations.

Keeping the legal gap in mind it is necessary to examine how and who carried out Ethiopia’s human rights reports to the UN Committees. MOFA has a tremendous role in the preparation, submission and other processes of periodic reports. But this does not mean that other government organs have their own role in the reporting process. Other government institutions like Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Women, Children and Youth (formerly Ministry of Women), Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Federal Police, Prisons Administration, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and other relevant institutions have their own role in the submission and presentation of the reports. Every government office has the obligation to provide relevant information and professionals that would help the preparation, submission or presentation of the periodic reports. Where list of issues and questions are sent to the Ethiopian government by the UN Committees, MOFA receive and distribute the issues and questions to relevant government organs. Finally, MOFA will collect and combine the replies and send it to the concerned Committees. On the oral dialogue part the Ethiopian delegation in almost all times is headed by MOFA and comprises representatives from the aforementioned relevant government organs. And questions raised by the Committees are answered by those members of the delegation who have more institutional attachment with the question raised.      

Whatever the case may be for Ethiopia to have a time bound, qualitative and effective reporting system it is critical to assign specific organs that would take the responsibility to carry out duties of reporting.

 

The Role of NHRI’s in Treaty Reporting

National human rights institutions (NHRIs) are administrative bodies set up in to protect or monitor human rights in a given country. NHRIs can be grouped together in two broad categories: human rights commissions and ombudsmen. The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution in December 20, 1993 on the Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions working on human rights called the Paris Principles. The principles describe the function, method of operation, mandate, composition and other activities of NHRIs. Even though UN General Assembly is not a treaty and binding by itself State parties to the UN are expected to respect in good faith the Paris Principles in the establishment of NHRIs and in the protection and promotion of human rights. Considering this, Ethiopia has established the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the Institute of the Ombudsman based on proclamation no. 210/2000 and 211/2000. And these institutions are mandated to work on the protection and promotion of human rights.

Coming back to the title of this paper, NHRIs have their own role in the treaty reporting of state parties. According to the Paris Principles article 3 (d) NHRIs have the responsibility to contribute to the reports which States are required to submit to United Nations bodies and committees, and to regional institutions, pursuant to their treaty obligations and, where necessary, to express an opinion on the subject, with due respect for their independence’. And pursuant to article 6 (7) of proclamation no. 210/2000 the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has duty to forward its opinion on human rights reports to be submitted to international organs’. On the contrary the proclamation ratified for the establishment of the Institute of Ombudsman does not have a provision that empower the institute to have its contribution in the treaty reporting. But, as NHRIs the Institute of Ombudsman should have been empowered to have some sort of contribution in treaty reporting. 

 

NHRCs [NHRIs] assist governments in preparing state reports for treaty bodies. Rather than drafting these reports directly, which would undermine their requisite independence, NHRCs [NHRIs] tend to share their own reports and expertise with governments. Looking into the Ethiopian experience regarding the role of NHRI’s in treaty reporting only the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has some kind of role in the Ethiopian treaty reporting.

 

One of the contributions of the Commission is facilitating meetings and discussions together with others on draft periodic reports. It is therefore, possible to collect constructive ideas on the draft reports from the discussions and meeting. The second contribution is the Commission together with Ministry of Foreign Affairs involve in the activity of searching financial aid for the expense of preparation and submission of the reports and the expense of the Ethiopian delegation in the oral dialogue. It also covers the expense of preparation and presentation shadow reports by Non Governmental Organizations. It mainly works on the allocation of finance for the expense of reporting. Thirdly, as a member of the Ethiopian delegation representative from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission would make a short speech on the measures taken by the Ethiopian government for the protection and promotion of human rights guaranteed under the core human rights treaties. Additionally the Commission influences the Ethiopian government to submit its periodic report of the core international human rights instruments. More or less the role of Ethiopian Human Rights Commission in treaty reporting is highly technical. 

 

Challenges in Treaty Reporting

One of the challenges in relation to treaty reporting is shortage of finance. Preparation, submission, presentation and other processes of treaty reporting requires its own finance. The Ethiopian Government in this respect does not allocate any kind of budget for the preparation and presentation of implementation reports of the core human rights instruments. That is why the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are always busy in searching for financial aid for the expenses of reporting. Until now except contribution of professionals from Ethiopian government all the treaty reporting expenses are covered by financial assistance from OHCHR and other NGOs. Therefore, shortage of finance is the biggest challenge in treaty reporting. And for a state like Ethiopia it is very difficult to allocate a budget for every single issue.   

The second challenge is lack of a clearly identified organ (body) that is responsible for treaty reporting. As it is explained earlier MOFA has only a mandate of ensuring enforcement of rights and obligations arising from treaties and it does not have the mandate to implement obligations of treaties like the reporting obligation. Just because there is no specifically assigned organ for the reporting of each treaty MOFA is practically using as the appropriate and responsible organ to handle treaty reporting with other organs simply because of the reason that it is a diplomatic channel of Ethiopia and directly contact with the UN Committees. Therefore, having no specifically assigned and responsible organ for reporting of implementation of treaties also has its own impact for the delay and absence of reporting of treaties. Having no ratifying law (ratifying proclamation) of the core human rights instruments can be taken as one of the sources of this challenge. It is because ratifying laws of treaties normally assign one government institution for the implementation of specific treaties. For instance, proclamation no. 613/2008 enacted to ratify the African Charter on Democracy, Election and Governance clearly empower Ministry of Justice under article 3 to undertake obligations of the charter and the ministry is expected to prepare a report based on article 62 of the charter. And if there would be a ratifying law of the human rights treaties there would be a specifically assigned organ to undertake the implementation of treaties including the reporting obligation.      

 

Shadow Reports

Shadow Reports are supplements to government reports and include reports by NGOs, UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations, academic institutions and the press. The purpose of Shadow Reports is to supplement the report of the government of a particular nation either to the Treaty Body Committees or to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) as additional information, which is then used as an alternative to a government’s official report regarding the human rights situation in its respective country. Shadow reports are a method for NGOs to supplement or present alternative information to the periodic government reports that State parties are required to submit under treaties. Most of the time and usually shadow reports come up with an opposite facts that are different from the report submitted by the state and blame the reporting states for violation of human rights. In Ethiopia Ethiopian Human Rights Council and Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association are among the NGOS to prepare and submit shadow reports on the Ethiopia treaty reporting.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Ethiopia is the member of UN since 1945 and party to six of the seven core international human rights instruments. And as a state part to these treaties Ethiopia is expected to implement the rights and obligations indicated under the treaties. In addition to this, reporting of the implementation i.e. every legal and administrative measure taken to implement the treaties is also another obligation.

Considering the reporting record of Ethiopia under the CERD, CEDAW and CRC it can be categorized as an excellent record and it’s reporting under CSECR, CCPR and CAT can be categorized as a reporting record under improvement. The ICCPR and ICESCR may be considered the main human rights treaties, because they include general human rights catalogues, applicable to all individuals and together protect almost all human rights. Moreover, the Convention Against Torture concerns what is arguably the most serious human rights violation that should be on top of the list of any state's priorities.

Ethiopia has also a poor reporting record in the ICCPR, ICESCR and CAT. Poor reporting record in the sense that the reports submitted by Ethiopia in these three treaties are submitted lately and overdue dated. Keeping this as a main problem in the reporting field submitting the report even lately by itself is better than failure to report. Therefore, considering that there is no due dated report this time Ethiopian reporting record can be categorized as excellent record and Ethiopia’s diligence in the discharging of its obligation of reporting is gradually increasing. Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a dominant role the reporting history of Ethiopia and other institutions like the Ethiopian Human Rights Institute, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Prison Administration, Federal Police Commission etc had their own role in Ethiopian reporting history. 

However, having no specifically assigned organ that is responsible to carry out the reporting obligation of implementation of core human rights instruments; shortage of finance and lack of commitment from the government side in discharging the reporting obligations are the potential challenges in the Ethiopian reporting activity.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

The government should first ratify through proclamations the core human rights instruments and then specifically empower an organ that is responsible to carry out the obligation of reporting. Or the government should clearly establish a system that can efficiently handle the reporting obligation. It may be a system of establishing a task force from different government institutions or assigning non-governmental organ working on the state reporting.

 

The government should not consider the reporting obligation as a secondary obligation and should critically consider this obligation. Therefore, it should allocate a sufficient budget for the preparation, submission and presentation of reports. 

 

Abiyou Girma Tamirat

Abiyou Girma is a qualified and a licensed lawyer. He obtained Bachelor of Laws (LLB), his first degree, from Saint Marry's University, Faculty of Law, in June 2007 and master's degree (MA), from Addis Ababa University Faculty of Law specializing in areas of Human Rights in 2012. He was at Ministry of Justice both as a public prosecutor and Legal adviser at International Co-operation on Legal Affairs Directorate. During his stay he has acquired an extensive experience in Civil law, commercial law and criminal Law, prosecutions, Human Rights and International Law.