Ambassador Teferi’s Closing Remarks at the RAS event on Reform and the Rule of Law in Ethiopia
On 15th March 2021, The Royal African Society hosted a panel discussion on Judicial Reform and the Rule of Law in Ethiopia.
Panellists at the virtual event discussed the state of implementation of these reforms, and particularly the challenges to the rule of law and its implementation created by the crisis in Tigray in recent months and the events and actions that this has precipitated.
- Mrs. Meaza Ashenafi, President of the Supreme Court of FDRE
- Dr. Daniel Bekele, Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission
- Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director, ICG
The following is Ambassador Teferi’s remarks at the conclusion of the event.
[Check against delivery]
Thank you, Professor Hammond.
I would like to start by expressing my gratitude to the distinguished panellists for their insights and to thank the Royal Africa Society for facilitating this important and timely platform on the ongoing reforms in Ethiopia
Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen,
As alluded to by the panellists earlier, the context currently surrounding the ongoing reforms in Ethiopia represents a critical juncture in our modern history.
In particular, the situation that arose in Tigray in November last year represented a watershed moment in my government’s attempts to ensure the rule of law and advance the cause of human rights in the country.
The impunity implanted over 3 decades by TPLF dominance, coupled with the demise of TPLF privilege following the transition in 2018, created a volatile national situation in which the vast majority of Ethiopians sought to move forward into a new era of democratisation and justice, while a few political elites sought to return to the repression of old.
The TPLF’s miscalculations in Tigray were the product of arrogance and entitlement that convinced it that it could indefinitely remain above the law at the expense of the constitutional order.
Although the active phase of law enforcement operations in the Region has now been concluded, bringing the criminal perpetrators to justice is ongoing with some apprehended and others still in hiding.
Emblematic of the Government’s commitment to reforms in this area, a number of high-ranking TPLF officials that have either been captured or surrendered to the authorities, are now being tried, in line with their constitutional rights, for their alleged crimes in a court of law – with some having even been granted bail. Such a situation would have been unthinkable only a few years prior.
Similarly, the Government remains concerned by the allegations of widespread human rights abuses in the Tigray region. Whether it be those responsible for the genocidal massacre at Mai Kadra or for rape and other forms of violence in the Region, the Government, in collaboration with independent local or international organisations, stands ready to investigate and bring these perpetrators to justice.
As further evidence of these reforms at work, I am heartened to hear about the important work being done across the country by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission – an organisation that was made irrelevant, by design, during the TPLF-era, which is now contributing to the activities of the Executive and the Judiciary to ensure accountability in today’s Ethiopia.
While we continue to detain those that are wanted for high treason and crimes against the state and people, our priority now is the rehabilitation of the Tigray and the restoration of normalcy for our citizens in the Region.
Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen,
Notwithstanding the current challenges we face, I remain confident that the Ethiopia that lies on the horizon, is one of hope.
As we head into the forthcoming elections, it will now be up to Ethiopians, up and down the country to capture this moment. To grasp this opportunity.
And to chart out a better present to hand over to future generations.
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