Breathing life into the crippled Civil Society Organization Sector

Since Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed government came into power, several laws or proclamations have been under review to protect human rights, address conflict of interest, open up the space for citizens to engage in the affairs of their country and to support development initiatives. Among the proclamation being reviewed the Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSP) No 621/2009 happened to be on top of the list. A collective gasp and glimmer of hope can be heard and seen from all over Ethiopia from those working in Civil Society organizations (CSO), supporting it or have or having been benefiting from it.

It was no surprise to see the CSO proclamation 621/2009 being prioritized given the controversy surrounding this proclamation had first emerged at the drafting stages; it endured criticism and backlash from both local and international bodies all through its ratification and during the time it stayed in force. It has been singled out as one of the major restrictive legislations the House has enacted after the controversial and much disputed national election in 2005.  This Bill faced resistance almost immediately from local and international right groups as well as donors; and the argument was simple that the CSO proclamation (as it came to be known in the years to come) would bring restrictive regulation against the already weakening human right advocacy work and Ethiopia’s track record, in this regard. Hence, this restrictive legislation has grabbed the attention of leading right activists, advocacy groups and Think Tanks around world, although without success in terms of pushing the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) to repeal the legislation. The Bill has even moved up on the priority of some of the major rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Right Watches and other human rights watchdogs as it became a primary agenda in the annual reports of these rights groups.

Read More here, Focus – Breathing life into a devastated sector (1)

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