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CSOs, Including CARD, Submit Comments on Ethiopia's Draft Transitional Justice Policy

Eight local CSOs, including the Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD), have submitted their feedback to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) on March 6, 2024, concerning the draft policy of the transitional justice initiative. These comments submitted to MoJ urge the government to consider several key points before the policy is sent for adoption by the Council of Ministers. 

The following key points are the gist of the feedback by the CSOs.

1. Public Accessibility: the CSOs emphasized the need for the full draft policy, unlike shortened power point presentation, to be made readily available for public discussion and scrutiny. This increased transparency is seen as crucial for fostering broader understanding and ensuring the policy reflects the needs of the community.

2. Institutional Inclusion: The proposals call for expanding the policy document to include relevant institutions. This encompasses the Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission, Institute of Ombudsman, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, CSOs, and media. Their inclusion is deemed vital for ensuring comprehensive perspectives and diverse approaches are represented when navigating the complex issues of transitional justice.

3. Addressing Foreign Involvement: The CSOs urge the policy to include a mechanism for investigating and prosecuting crimes committed by foreign forces involved in the Tigray war. This emphasis on accountability aims to ensure everyone who bears responsibility for human rights violations faces consequences, regardless of their origin.

4. Rights Alignment: The comments highlight the need to ensure any involvement of indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms aligns with international human rights instruments. This safeguards fundamental rights while acknowledging and potentially incorporating traditional practices for healing and reconciliation.

5. Broadening Accountability: Beyond individuals directly responsible, the CSOs advocate for holding accountable those who may have been indirectly involved in actions that could constitute crimes against humanity. This broader scope aims to address potential systemic issues and prevent future violations.

6. Supporting Investigations: The recommendations also call for equipping the special prosecutor, who will be established for the transitional justice process, with a well-trained and dedicated police force. This specialized unit would be crucial for effectively investigating alleged crimes and ensuring accountability.

7. Special Courts and International Expertise: The CSOs emphasize the importance of providing clear justification for the establishment of special courts, as deemed necessary to explain the intention of restrictions under the constitution. Additionally, they advocate for including internationally experienced judges within these courts to strengthen their legitimacy and expertise.

8. Amicus Curiae: The comments highlight the importance of ensuring amicus curiae opportunities for CSOs and other relevant institutions. This would allow them to submit information and legal arguments to support the court's decision-making process.

9. Comprehensive Justice Reform: Beyond the immediate transitional justice needs, the CSOs urge the government to seize this opportunity to embark on a comprehensive reform of the justice system. This long-term vision aims to build a stronger, more independent, and equitable justice system for all Ethiopians.

CARD, along with other CSOs, remains committed to engaging in constructive dialogue to ensure the adopted transitional justice policy is robust, inclusive, and effectively addresses the needs of all Ethiopians seeking truth, justice, and reconciliation. 

Please find the full version of the comment submitted to the MoJ here.

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