ADDIS ABABA – A nationwide public consultation on transitional justice policy options in Ethiopia has been launched on Monday.
Authorities view transitional justice as key to securing lasting peace, reconciliation, and accountability in the country that witnessed severe human rights violations in recent times.
“Implementing transitional justice has become essential to prevent human rights violations from happening and ensure rule of law,” said Deputy Primer and Foreign minister Demeke Mekonnen.
“This requires us discharging our responsibilities,” he told the inaugural session attended by senior federal and regional government officials.
The Ministry of Justice prepared transitional justice policy options with the support of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
“What we normally do was prepare a draft policy for approval,” Justice Minister Gedion Timothewos said.
But now, he said the ministry chose to launch public consultation on the draft Transitional Justice Policy Alternative Document.
At least 60 discussion forums are scheduled be held in different parts of the country to collect views and comments from the public on the document.
The feedback from the ongoing public consultations will be used to formulate the national policy that serves in the transitional justice process, as per the ministry.
The consultations will enable the public to have a say in determining the transitional justice period, violent acts requiring investigation, ways to redress them, and more.
EHRC: ‘key to addressing root causes of rights violations
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
welcomed the launch of the public consultations
EHC has been investigating and documenting grave human rights violations for the last three years including those committed in the context of the conflict in the north.
Having a genuine transitional justice mechanism was among the recommendations that the EHRC offered to redress the rights violations and ensure accountability.
Its Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele noted that Ethiopia is faced with multifaceted socio-economic challenges including identity-based violent conflicts.
The challenges, he said, “often result in grave violations and historical grievances that remain unaddressed”.
They require “the design and implementation of a genuine, human rights compliant, victim-centered, inclusive, and participatory transitional justice policy,” Daniel said.
“Transitional justice is essential to address the root causes of systemic human rights violations,,” he continued.
It would also help “to heal wounds of past abuses, and to consolidate a viable path towards sustainable peace and reconciliation,” he added.
In this regard, the Commission said, it welcomes the launch of nationwide public consultations on transitional justice policy options in Ethiopia.
EHRC is also “encouraged by other positive measures” being taken by the Government including establishing a Working Group of Independent Experts to advise and coordinate the transitional justice process.
The measures also include the preparation of a green paper with TJP options for public feedback, and the roadmap which lays down the standards and principles for the consultations.
While commending the initiatives, the commission has also urged the federal and regional governments to continue “this commitment and momentum.”
Commissioner Daniel said EHRC will push for the integration of “applicable principles” into the consultation and the designing and implementation of the transitional justice policy.
These principles are “inclusiveness, meaningful participation, gender-sensitivity, victim-centeredness, transparency, and national ownership”, according to the Commissioner.
Featured Image: Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Daniel Bekele addressing a press briefing [Photo File]