CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY
JOINT RESOLUTION 12
HUMAN RIGHTS IN ETHIOPIA—————————————-
BILL NUMBER: AJR 12 INTRODUCED
INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Bass
FEBRUARY 22, 2007
Relative to Ethiopia.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST
AJR 12, as introduced, Bass. Ethiopia. This measure would urge the Congress and the President of the United States to demand that the Ethiopian government immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and journalists and fulfill its obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and urge the California delegation in the House of Representatives and the Senate to support and cosponsor “The Ethiopian Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2006” in the110th Congress. Fiscal committee: no.
WHEREAS, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which constitutes a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, is the source of inspiration and has been the basis for the United Nations in making advances in standard setting as contained inthe existing international human rights instruments, in particular, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and has been incorporated by reference in the Ethiopian Constitution as the part of the supreme law of the land; and WHEREAS, The Ethiopian government has repeatedly violated the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; and WHEREAS, Human rights conditions in Ethiopia have deteriorated significantly in the aftermath of the May 2005 parliamentary elections, and the Ethiopian government has undertaken a massive crackdown on political opposition and dissent, including arrests of opposition leaders, journalists, human rights defenders and civic society leaders, and extrajudicial killings of protesters by using excessive and deadly force; and WHEREAS, Documented violations of human rights in Ethiopia include widespread violation of privacy rights, warrantless searches and seizures, arrests without probable cause, and severe curtailments of basic human rights, including freedom of speech, press, association, and assembly; and WHEREAS, The massive crackdown on opposition and dissent has resulted in the incarceration of, among others, Dr. Berhanu Negga, mayor-elect of Addis Abeba, Hailu Shawul, chairman of the coalition opposition party, Coalition for Unity and Democracy (Kinijit), Yakob Hailemariam, an academic and former United Nations genocide prosecutor at the Rwanda tribunal and former United Nations Special Envoy in the Cameroon/Nigeria border dispute; Mesfin Woldemariam, university professor and president of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, Birtukan Mideksa, one of the few female judges in the country, a number of newly elected parliamentarians, over 14 editors and reporters of independent and privately owned newspapers; and WHEREAS, The government of Ethiopia established a commission of inquiry to investigate the violence that occurred in the aftermath of the May 2005 parliamentary elections, and the chairman and vice chairman of this commission reported in a briefing to the United States House of Representatives that the Ethiopian security forces had used excessive force resulting in the deaths of 193 persons and serious injury to 763 others; and WHEREAS, The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed deep concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in Ethiopia, and other respected independent international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Genocide Watch, have expressed equally deep concern, and called for the unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners in the country and improvements in the human rights situation; and WHEREAS, Ethiopian-Americans in the United States are deeply concerned about human rights violations in their native country and seek the immediate and unconditional release of opposition leaders and all political prisoners in Ethiopia; and WHEREAS, House Resolution 5680, the “Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2006,” which passed the House International Relations Committee of the United States House of Representatives on a unanimous vote, demanded the immediate and unconditional release of opposition leaders and all political prisoners in Ethiopia; and WHEREAS, The Ethiopian government continues to repress all peaceful attempts by the Ethiopian people to bring democratic change by denying universally recognized liberties, including freedom of speech, assembly, association, and of the press, and employing repressive measures aimed at eliminating opposition and dissent; now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Assembly and the Senate of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature of California condemns the widespread violation of human rights in Ethiopia and the use of violence and deadly force to suppress political opposition and dissent; and be it further Resolved, That the California State Legislature calls on the Congress and President of the United States to demand that the Ethiopian government immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and journalists and fulfill its obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as incorporated in its constitution, the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and established norms of human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law; and be it further Resolved, That the government of the United States work vigorously to secure as soon as possible the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, as well as closely monitor their treatment in prison, and further demand disclosure of the total number of persons detained on political charges throughout the country, and ensure that all political prisoners and other defendants are treated humanely while in custody in accordance with international and regional standards for the treatment of prisoners, such as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, with particular regard to medical treatment, family visits, and reading and writing materials; and be it further Resolved, That the government of the United States demand that the Ethiopian government forbear from interference in the exercise of the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, and association in Ethiopia, including the right to demonstrate peacefully, the right to publish opinions freely through an independent press, and the right to engage in civil society activism, and put an end to the government media monopoly; and be it further Resolved, That the government of the United States work through its representatives in the United Nations to establish an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate the broad scope of human rights abuses in Ethiopia, and to identify those responsible for human rights violations; and be it further Resolved, That the government of the United States demand resumption of the process of reform and improvement of democratic institutions, including a serious and international examination of the results of the parliamentary elections held in May 2005; and be it further Resolved, That the Congress adopt a resolution on the human rights situation in Ethiopia, aimed particularly at protecting and supporting the Ethiopian human rights defenders on trial, in line with the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders; and be it further Resolved, That the government of the United States encourage and support the African Human Rights Commission and its member states to more actively investigate and report on human rights violations throughout the country and bring these to the attention of the Ethiopian government and the international community for remedy; and be it further Resolved, That the government of the United States demand that the Ethiopian government prosecute the individuals, officials, and others who were responsible for the deaths of 193 unarmed and peaceful protesters and scores of others who sustained serious injuries as a result of the unlawful use of deadly force by government security forces; and be it further Resolved, That the government of United States demand that the Ethiopian government implement specific measures to ensure the independence of the judiciary and institute due process to guarantee defendants accused of crimes the right to be tried by a competent and independent court, and the rights to the presumption of innocence, confrontation, and compulsory process, speedy trial, and assistance of counsel; and be it further Resolved, That the Congress pass “The Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2006,” which was introduced as House Resolution 5680 in the 109th Congress, Second Session, and passed the House International Relations Committee with a unanimous vote; and be it further Resolved, That the California delegation in the House of Representatives and the Senate support and cosponsor “The Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Act” upon its introduction in the110th Congress and that Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein sign on as sponsors of the bill in the Senate; and be it further Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to the Majority Leader of the Senate, and to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States.http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/acsframeset2text.htm