The Adequacy of Ethiopian Criminal Laws in Regulating Crimes against Humanity and Implications

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CAH is one of the most atrocious international crimes which shocked the conscience of mankind. It is, thus, believed by the international community that it is necessary to prohibit the commission of such monstrous crime and prosecute as well as punish whenever and wherever it materialized. Coming to Ethiopia, there are a number of serious allegations on the commission of CAH as reported by various human rights organizations, be they domestic or international. Despite the presence of numerous accusations as to the commission of CAH here and there in the country, however, the criminal laws currently in existence in Ethiopia are not considered as containing adequate regulatory frameworks dealing with CAH. This study is, thus, primarily undertaken to assess the adequacy or otherwise of the Ethiopian criminal laws in regulating CAH and implications if the study reveals the inadequacy of the laws. To this end, the study relied on both primary and secondary data sources. The primary sources included: the FDRE Constitution, the FDRE Criminal Code and other pertinent domestic legislations as well as international instruments, interview with an official from the Ministry of Justice and relevant cases. On the other hand, the secondary sources consisted of books, journal articles, magazines, articles from the web and similar others. The researcher used qualitative research method to systematically analyze the data so collected. The findings revealed that the criminal laws did not consider CAH as a discrete offence. Nor did they define it with a required sufficiency (in a manner complying with its apposite international criminal law understanding). Instead, they unnecessarily blended it with such other crimes as genocide and war crimes. This in effect made, inter alia, prosecution of perpetrators of CAH difficult, if not impossible. Besides, it somehow compromised the goal to maintain national peace and security as well as created a problem in discharging the responsibility to protect populations from CAH. Hence, the country needs to amend these laws so that they could be able to capture the proper notion of the term in question and thus, address this and other similar concerns. Until such time that this is realized, courts can resort to CIL to fill the existing legal lacuna in this regard.