A lawyer in Addis Ababa and a former Addis Ababa University professor debate on the recently approved Charities and Societies Proclamation in Ethiopia.
Getachew Redda, attorney and advisor to agencies in the Meles administration, and Fekade Shewakenna, a former AAU instructor and currently a research associate in the US National Health Institute, NIH took part in the recent Amharic services debate forum Crossfire to present a starkly opposing views on the new legislation.
The law, which was approved by the Parliament but has not yet been published and enacted, prevents the people from organizations that advocate human rights.
Getachew argues; that is the job of the federal government only. Although the law prohibits non-government organizations from advocating human rights, he adds it does not restrict the rights and freedoms of citizens, but only foreign funding for those groups who wish to engage in political activities. He also claims that the new law will only make them accountable.
Fekade Shewakenna on the other hand suggest that the new law is a reflection of an increasingly narrowed political space in the nation. He also says that the government will use the law to suppress the voices of local organizations.
The controversial law bans civil society organizations from taking part in any human rights activities in Ethiopia. The law prohibits local charity organizations from generating more than 10 percent of their operating funds from outside of the country, including any financial aid from international donors.
Such human right organizations as Amnesty International and Human Right Watch have strongly criticized the law.