Netherlands Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Security and Rule of Law Program

Given the socio-political disarray in most of its neighboring countries, Ethiopia remains a remarkably stable and secure constitutional state with a relatively well-functioning judicial apparatus. However, improvements could still be made in terms of democratic space, legal order and administrative transparency. Building capacity and legitimacy in relation to the rule of law is not only crucial for the sustained stability of Ethiopia, but also vital for achieving the objectives of the other priority themes; Food Security and SRHR.

The Embassy’s Security and Rule of Law program focusses on two main areas:

1) Activities to contribute to more sustainable security, a functioning legal order system and more accountable, inclusive democratic processes

The Embassy supports the Criminal Justice and Integrity program for Ethiopia of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime). Through the NGO Justice for All – Prison Fellowship Ethiopia, the Embassy focusses on human rights in the Ethiopian justice system. The Justice Capacity Building project, implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and the University of Amsterdam, is strengthening the capacity of several players within the sector in order to facilitate the implementation of current reform programs. In addition, the Embassy encourages synergy between these three activities.

Regarding regional stability, the Embassy seeks the promotion of sustainable security through ZOA’s program along the Ethiopia-South Sudan border. The program builds cohesion, which can be regarded a precondition for rebuilding people’s lives and strengthening their livelihoods.

The Embassy also lends support to the multi-donor Civil Society Support Program in order to contribute to national development, poverty reduction and the advancements of good governance and democratization processes.

2) Activities to support an improved business climate, linked to other policy priorities.

An improved business climate in Ethiopia requires adequate trade licensing, clear policy support, smooth customs clearance etc. Although there is progress in these areas, it has not met the pace of demand in the economy. Recent experiences in the Food Security sector have shown that the lack of inter-agency communication and non-transparent bureaucratic procedures hinder the investment and operations of foreign companies. The Embassy is in the process of identifying how it can best contribute to streamlining procedures and removing bureaucratic hurdles faced by foreign businesses. Support to the new Commercial Law will be provided. The collaboration between the Dutch ‘Belastingdienst’ and the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs authority (ERCA) will be continued, strengthened and broadened.

The Human Rights Protection and Justice Service Delivery Project of Justice for All is an important element of our support to improving the Rule of Law in Ethiopia.  A part of this project of Justice for All focuses on a holistic support to prisoners and improving their livelihood. Within this context and in close collaboration with the Law faculty of the Ambo University a legal aid center has been established in the Ambo prison in December 2014 where legal aid services will be provided to the prisoners.

During the inauguration ceremony in December 2014 Ambassador Lidi Remmelzwaal stated: “Access to justice is crucial and it is the right of prisoners, and therefore I welcome that all involved put now this essential facility in place in order to allow delivering the legal aid service for the prisoners. I acknowledge the important role of the Law faculty of the Ambo University in this context, but also appreciate the ambition that in the long run, the service will be also provided by Para-legal inmates themselves. We encourage all the inmates and leadership of the prison administration to make sure optimal service is rendered to the needy prisoners. I do hope that similar legal aid centers will be opened in different prisons found in Oromia Regional State in the coming years.”

Within the context of the Dutch supported JFA-PFE project also Human Rights training is provided to police and militia. Moreover, with support of the Netherlands the case clearance rate improved of the Federal Court as well of regional courts in the Amhara and Oromia regions.