Officials at the Authority for Civil Society Organizations have threatened to revoke the licenses of close to 500 civil organizations in response to failures to submit audit reports.
A press release from the Authority issued on February 7, 2024, cites concerns over potential irregularities and a lack of transparency for 805 civil society organizations flagged for failing to submit obligatory audit reports for 2020 and 2021.
No less than 308 of these organizations have reached out to the Authority, citing war, security concerns, and a lack of funding were behind their failure to submit audit reports. However, 477 of them have thus far been unable to provide satisfactory explanations for the lapse, leading officials to warn their licenses would be revoked.
The Authority has provided a grace period to the close to 500 organizations for compliance, giving their legal representatives 30 days to appear before its officials.
In the event that the legal representative fails to appear within the specified period and provide a satisfactory explanation for the organization’s failure to submit reports, the matter escalates to the Director-General and the Authority’s board.
They have the power to dissolve the organization and revoke its license.
The developments highlight the complex socio-economic landscape within which civil society operates and emphasize the need for tailored support mechanisms to address the specific needs of organizations facing such obstacles.
In April 2023, the Authority had issued a similar warning to organizations that failed to submit reports for the years 2020 and 2022. However, only a negligible fraction responded with explanations, indicating a trend of non-compliance within the sphere of civil society organizations in Ethiopia.
Subsequently, in a final warning letter dated December 26, 2023, organizations were reminded of their obligation to provide reports within 15 days of the stipulated reporting period. Failure to do so, they were warned, would result in further scrutiny and potential repercussions.
In accordance with Article 70 of Decree 1113/2011, any civil society organization failing to submit a report within three months after the designated deadline faces additional scrutiny. In such cases, the Authority will publish a notice in newspapers to verify the organization’s existence.