Procedure for Amnesty law endorsed
A new draft bill tabled before the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) is said to provide for the full integration of refugees camped in Ethiopia into the general public offering refugees with unrestricted rights, out of camp living and working privileges in Ethiopia.
The House, in its 32nd regular session, entertained 10 agenda topics including: voting on a motion denouncing the attack on Saturday June 23, 2018, on a rally to support the newly elected Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and his reform agenda.
The draft bill to amend the existing Refugees Proclamation was one of the two bills tabled before law-makers on the same session.
According to documents attached to the draft proclamation, the existing laws relating to refugees need to be revised in order to address the challenges encountered by refugees and to incorporate the progresses made in the protection of refugees in Ethiopia.
It was also said that the latest bill has been prepared in-line with Ethiopia’s pledged to the World Leaders Summit during the United Nation Assembly held at its Head Quarter in 2016. In addition, the international and continental conventions on refugees that Ethiopia is a signatory have influenced the continent of the newly drafted refugee proclamation amendment.
Hence, the newly proposed legal framework has offered several provisions which when extended might improve rights, better education and service access for refugees in addition to ensuring protection and freedom of movements.
Besides the ‘out of camp policy’ the country has offered to refugees for the past six years; the bill also provides asylum seekers with access to education. According to the proposed provisions, every recognized refugee shall receive the same treatment as accorded to Ethiopian nationals with respect to access to pre-primary and secondary education. He/she may also have access to a secondary or a higher-level education within the available resources and subject to the education policy of the country.
Similarly, any refugee, once recognized, will also have the right to engage in a wage-earning employment in the same circumstances as most favorable treatment accorded to foreign nationals pursuant to the relevant law. The area of engagements in which refugees can participate in wage earnings includes agriculture, industry parks, small and micro enterprise, handicrafts and commerce. They can also establish non-profit, non-political associations.
Furthermore, the bill includes the rights of refugees to have a driving license or asylum-seekers in possession of a valid foreign driving license recognized by the Ethiopian government may apply for or be issued with equivalent drivers’ qualification certification license within Ethiopian laws.
Access to Banking services as well as telecommunication services are parts of the new provisions included in the draft bill.
Meanwhile, the provisions also obliges recognized refugees or asylum seekers to cooperate with service and law enforcement officers by providing necessary information in respect to their application for refugee status upon request, as per the Ethiopian law demands.
In its first deliberation, MPs discussed on the contents of the draft bill before referring it to the relevant standing committee for further scrutiny.
The other draft tabled for discussion during the same session was the amendment of the Revised Charter of the Addis Ababa City Government whichis also a Proclamation.
The draft proclamation comes after four months since the House voted to extend the Addis Ababa City election to be held last month due to the instability of the country experienced nation-wide.
Hence, the new bill proposed that the current council of Addis Ababa and its entire government extend its mandate for a longer period until the next election.
Similarly, the draft proclamation also proposed for the amendment of a particular provision that legislate appointments of City mayor and deputy mayor of Addis Ababa.
According to the existing proclamation, both mayor and his/her deputy shall only be appointed from the members of the city council. However, the proposed bill offers non-members the opportunity to stand election as deputy mayor as far as he/she possesses the required skills and qualification.
Hence, the newly revised provision reads: “The Deputy Mayor shall be appointed either from Member of the Council or from a non-member of the council.”
In the same session, the house also endorsed a bill setting the procedure for granting of Amnesty with majority votes.
The law will allow the government to grant Amnesty to individuals who have committed various crimes.
Nevertheless, the Amnesty will not be granted for people who had committed genocide, extrajudicial killings, kidnapping as well as torture and inhuman treatment.
However, before voting could commence, it encountered serious challenges from MPs raising critical concerns regarding the rule of law which has to be enforced on criminals. Others fear the latest law might discourage the fight against some severe type of crimes such as corruption and embezzlement.
The house finally approved the draft bill with a majority vote.