THE HUMAN RIGHTS LEAGUE OF THE HORN OF AFRICA/ HRLHA
The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa/HRLHA was initiated by prominent members of The Human Rights League/HRL living in Canada andregistered as non- profit and non-Political organization in Ontario/Canada in June 14, 2007.
HRLHA defends freedom of thought and expression, due process and equal protection of the law as well as to promote the development of a vigorous civil society.
THE HISTORY OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS LEAGUE/HRL
The Human Rights League/HRL was founded in December of 1996 in Ethiopia. It was a non-governmental organization established with the aim to monitor and promote observance of nationally, regionally and internationally recognized human rights Declarations, Conventions, and Treaties in Country.
HRL was a non-partisan, secular human-centered membership organization. It was founded on the firm belief that, the protection of human rights forms the real basis in efforts to build a democratic society. Its major activity is to conduct regular and systematic investigations of human rights abuses in the country and to release timely and reliable reports for all those concerned with human rights issue.
Human Rights League was formed;
- to defend freedom of thought and expression, due process and equal protection of the law as well as to promote the development of a vigorous civil society. .
- to document and denounce murders, disappearances, torture, arbitrary imprisonment, and other abuses committed by government agents, overtly or covertly.
HRL’s activities were driven by the convection that freedom, human rights and development are indivisible. HRL was convinced that the prevalence of a culture of rights, implying the culture of respect for individual human beings, presupposes, among the things, knowledge of the legal systems of human rights by citizens at large. The Ethiopian societies were characterized by high illiteracy, poverty, civil strife and lack of good governance. Hence, basic laws and human rights concepts were not widely known. HRL, therefore, strived to integrate human rights promotion activities with vigorous human rights education in cooperation with organizations concerned with civic education.
However, in 1997 the board members and the officers of the League including the General Manager of the League were arrested, the office documents and computers were confiscated and the office was shut down
THE NEED FOR HRLHA
Now days the Ethiopian government agents extended all kinds of harassments on citizens livening in neighbor countries like Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and the Sudan. The lives of citizens are threatened, disrupted and ended by these abuses. The abuses include ethnic cleansing and genocide, torture, and persecution, trafficking in women and children, prevalent domestic violence and rape, and female genital mutilation.
To end this cycle of pain and suffering of the citizen HRLHA will work with domestic and international similar humanitarian organizations .HRLHA also believes that, the most effective way to stop this inhuman activity of the government agents is through the human rights education, monitoring, and reporting human rights abuses.
HRLHA believed that it can play a significant role in building a vigorous civic society with a culture of democracy and tolerance by promoting human rights principles. It also believed it can play a facilitative role in breaking the vicious cycle precipitated by the interplay of factors like poverty, political repression, revenge and political intolerance. HRLHA was also convinced that development will be hindered or impaired and will be unsustainable in conditions where the human rights of citizens is not respected. HRLHA’s commitment to foster democracy and national development depend on its ability to harness along with other human rights organizations any available resources to achieve respect for human rights of the Ethiopian people. While its long-term objective was to promote observance of internationally recognized human rights in the Horn of Africa, and its specific objectives were to:
1. Endeavor to enlighten citizens of the Horn of Africa on human rights;
2. Detect, monitor, verify and report on human rights violations;
3. Conduct research on human rights issues with a view to disseminating its findings and/or conclusions;
4. Promote the basic concepts and principles of human rights;
5. Lobby the Governments of the Horn of Africa to ratify the basic international treaties on human rights;
6. Organize and offer trainings, workshops and seminars on the protection of basic human rights and freedoms as well as other relevant issues;
7. Cooperate with other similar organizations.
MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION
HRLHA’s organizational structure is not only modeled on participatory democratic principles but also consists of different organs that work together in a cohesive and mutually reinforcing method. At the top is the General Assembly which is the supreme governing body of the League. The executive organ of the League is the board of directors of nine members which provides essential policy guidelines and issues policy decisions. The HRLHA secretariat is responsible for the running of the day-to-day activities of the League.
HRLHA also consists of other professional staff and line organs including the Legal service, Data Management, Civic Education, Research and Evaluation, Inspection of Verification, Public Relations and Finance.
JUSTIFICATION FOR HRLHA FORMATION
The role that human rights institutions can play in contributing to the overall development of any region or country are evident. The establishment and operations of these institutions are essential for processes of democracy to be realized specially in a country like Ethiopia where democracy is still under question. Such institutions initiate and ensure high popular participation in the decision-making processes. They are crucial for the development of a strong civil society. They help in instituting the rule of law, transparency and accountability of the government to the people.
HRLHA subscribes to the view that human rights are an essential component in the drive to build democracy and achieve sustainable. It believes that any talk of democracy is meaningless without the prevalence of a culture of human rights. One of the countries of the troubled Horn of Africa Region, Ethiopia is among the world’s least developed countries. With a population of about 81 million, the majority of whom live in the rural areas. The country has a predominantly agricultural base which has been drastically affected over the past three decades by drought, famine, war, displacement, forced resettlement, government repression, etc.
The present government came to power in May of 1991, after 17 years of brutally repressive rule of the Marxist Dergue. One of the paramount tasks the present government set for itself, since it came to power, was to prosecute officials of the former Dergue regime for gross human rights abuses. However the past sixteen years, since the fall of the Dergue, deterioration in human rights situations increased.
Thousands of members of opposition political groups have been thrown to prisons without charge or trial. A large number of journalists were detained for reporting stories and views critical of the government. Many have been released but many others are still held. Hundreds of suspected opponents of the government have “disappeared” and many prisoners have been subjected to torture. A number of defenseless civilians have been shot dead by security forces.
Despite the Federal Constitution’s guarantees of due process, and its provisions which prevent torture or ill treatment of prisoners in articles 18, 19, 20, and 21, the world media, human rights organizations and the local press have been reporting a number of cases of torture and other cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners by the security forces. The past sixteen years also witnessed widespread documented cases of human rights abuses at the federal level related to the federal government’s crackdown on the independent press, civic and relief associations, trade unions, teachers’ associations, human rights organizations and political parties in violations of rights that the federal constitution provided for. The constitution guarantees the rights of peaceful assembly and association and provides for the fight to engage in unrestricted peaceful political activity.
However, in many instances the government used harassment tactics, to restrict the rights of associations of peaceful assemblies. Offices of opposition groups, civic organizations, and labor unions were ransacked and searched. Most of them were closed down (Human Rights League/HRL 1997} and their members were victimized by systematic harassment, detention and suspicious killing. International human rights monitoring organizations were denied access to information.
On the whole, human rights situations deteriorated during the past sixteen years with frequent extra-judicial killings occurring in broad daylight in the Capital City, in Universities and high schools and elsewhere in the country. At the official level, the government is prosecuting officials of the overthrown government for crimes against humanity and genocide committed in their official capacities. But it has not done anything on a practical level to ensure that its own human rights record is beyond reproach. Nor has it been open in acknowledging and investigating abuses by its own forces. The international community, also, has paid insufficient attention to continuing reports of violations.
In this circumstances, there is no alternative to founding a human rights organization like HRLHA to add voices to the cries of victims of abuses for justice and human dignity. HRLHA believes that Ethiopia today finds itself at a cross roads with a real risk of slipping back in to a single party dictatorship and paving ways and conditions of civil war and famine. It is HRLHA believes that decisive action has to be taken to end mounting political polarization and restore the confidence of all major segments of the population in the present government and its commitment to genuine democratization and protection of human rights. Faced with the barbaric conduct of the security agents and some terrorist groups in disturbing public life and claiming tolls of human lives, the HRLHA cannot afford to stand idle or indifferent. Driven by the desire to achieve respect for human rights in the Horn in general and in Ethiopia in particular, to contribute to the fostering of a culture of democracy and tolerance among the citizens; HRLHA has undertaken the task of monitoring human right situations and, in close collaboration with sister organizations to bring abuses to the attention of the concerned authorities and the world public with recommendations for action.
The Human Rights League/HRL was founded in December of 1996 in Ethiopia. It was a non-governmental organization established with the aim of not only monitoring the observances of the nationally, regionally and internationally recognized human rights Declarations, Conventions, and Treaties but also promoting them in that Country.HRL was a non-partisan, secular organization with a broad-based membership of interested individuals from all walks of life, religions, age groups, gender, etc. It was founded on the firm belief that the protection of human rights forms the real basis in efforts to build a democratic society. Its major activity was to conduct regular and systematic investigations of human rights abuses in the country and release timely and reliable reports for the consumption of all those concerned with human rights issue.HRL’s objectives were originated from the conviction that freedom, human rights and development are indivisible. HRL was convinced that the prevalence of the culture of the observance of fundamental human rights presupposes, among other things, basic knowledge of the legal aspects of human rights by citizens at large. The Ethiopian societies were characterized by high illiteracy, poverty, civil strife and lack of good governance. Hence, basic laws and human rights concepts were not widely known. HRL, therefore, strived to integrate the promotion of fundamental human rights with civic education in collaboration with civic organizations and media agencies.However, in 1997 the board members and the officers of the League, including the General Manager of the League were arrested, its office was ransacked, documents and computers were confiscated and, finally, the office was shut