Litigating Human Rights Issues Using International Instruments before Ethiopian Courts

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Addis Ababa University


A democratic government with limited power is essential to the creation of an atmosphere <;onducive for the effective enforcement of human rights laws including international I nstruments. One essential element of a limited government is the division of powers both iverti cally and hori zontally. The fai lure to adhere to the pri nciple of distribution of authority is the Ivery defi nition of tyrann y. Th is research is attempting to find out if the allocation of authority found in the FORE Constitution and the actual practice on the ground provide an atmosphere conducive for the effective enforcement of human rights in general and international human rights instruments in particular. To answer this question, this research will explore: • the implicat ion of the current trend of centrali zation on human rights enforcement in general and • the negative impact of centralization on the enforcement of international human rights instruments. This research is qual itative, drawing mostly from a review of the literature to analyze critica lly the effect of the constitutional di stribution of powers and the reality on the ground in the en forcement of international human rights instruments in the country. The literature review also helps to uncover common challenges faced in the enforcement of treaties in many countries and discern which of them has pat1icular rel evance to the Ethiopian context. To complete the research questionnaires are di stributed and case reviews are conducted. The findings of the research lead to the conclusion that there is a growing trend of centrali zation in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. As a result, vel1ically power is still concentrated at the centre and there is no sign ifi cant separation of powers horizontally as well. As long as the centralizing trend, both vel1ically and horizontall y, continues, the likelihood of!he government to violate fundamental ri ghts will increase, as it is the typical inclination of all authoritar ian governmen ts. In case of violat ions, the people are less incl ined to go to the courts, as it is most likely that th ey do not perceive them immune from the pressures of the two branches of government. Even if they decide to go, the coul1S are less li kely to provide justice, as they are not fu ll y capabl e and truly independent. Therefore, it is not only high time to end the centralized ru le; but such a move will also be indi spensab le to endorse the protection and promotion of fun da mental ri ghts in general. Moreparticu larly, bringing th is centralization trend to a halt will surely reduce, and in time avoid, existing challenges in the enforcement of international human rights instruments before domestic courts.



Litigating Human Rights Issues