HRC33: Address human rights crises in Ethiopia and South Sudan

Human Rights Council: 33rd Session
Item 4: General Debate

Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention

Oral Intervention
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
Delivered by Ms. Clementine de Montjoye

Thank you Mr. President.

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project is gravely concerned with the escalating human rights crisis in Ethiopia. The situation has become increasingly unstable since security forces repeatedly fired upon protests in the Amhara and Oromia regions in August 2016, reportedly killing over 100 people. Since November 2015, Ethiopian security forces have routinely used excessive and unnecessary lethal force to disperse and suppress the largely peaceful protests in the Oromia region. According to international and national human rights groups, at least 600 demonstrators have been killed and hundreds have suffered bullet wounds and beatings by police and military since the protests began in November last year.

Mr. President, we echo the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ call for an independent and impartial investigation into all reported killings and other violations of human rights in the context of the protests. As Member and Vice President of this Council, we urge the Government of Ethiopia to uphold its obligations, and immediately cease the use of excessive and lethal force by security forces against protesters, accept an international investigation into the killings, give Special Procedures access to the country, and make public its own national human rights commission’s investigation on the Oromia protests.

Mr. President, we also wish to bring to your attention the alarming levels of threat civil society in South Sudan is facing today, which has significantly worsened since the July 2016 outbreak in fighting. We are gravely concerned about the UN Mission to South Sudan’s reports of serious threats made against civil society members who met with the UN Security Council delegation during their most recent visit to Juba this month. Human rights defenders and journalists have had to flee Juba by the dozen, particularly after attempting to document and report on the dramatic escalation in violence in July. At least seven NGOs working on human rights advocacy have recently reported being notified verbally or in writing that the renewal of their registration has been denied under the new NGO Act.

I thank you.


Human Rights Defender of the month: Alex Njenga John

Alex Njenga has always believed in egalitarianism both as a principle and as a tool for justice. As a result, he has always been suspicious of, and at times hostile to social prejudices that treat some people as “more equal than others,” – to use a line from George Orwell’s famed political fable, Animal Farm.

Some of the experiences that have shaped his social and political outlook have been personal. As an adolescent in Kenya’s Uasin Gishu County, Alex was stigmatised and denied healthcare after he identified himself as belonging to Kenya’s sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) community.