House Urges Respect for Human Rights in EthiopiaPress Release
Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed H. Res. 128, which supports human rights and encourages inclusive governance in Ethiopia.
On the House floor, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“I want to recognize Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of the Africa Subcommittee, and Ranking Member Karen Bass for their leadership on this important resolution.
The Ethiopians are a proud people with a rich heritage and history. Ethiopia is also an important partner. It has asserted regional influence through rapid economic growth, strong cooperation with the U.S. on security initiatives and a commitment to combating radical Islamist extremism. It has made notable strides to address domestic challenges of health, child survival and food security.
We all celebrate these accomplishments. Ethiopia has come a long way from the devastating famines of the 1980s. It has achieved most of the benchmarks of the Millennium Development Goals to date. This resolution recognizes the need to continue a close partnership between the United States and Ethiopia to continue that momentum.
It is because of these important bilateral ties that we must ensure that Ethiopia is respecting good governance and democratic values. Deeply ingrained ethnic divisions, marginalization and years of conflict provide unique governance challenges. Advancing democratic values is never easy but it is the best way to further Ethiopia’s progress and our robust bilateral relationship. Reports of widespread human rights abuses, crackdowns on freedoms of expression and excessive force against peaceful protestors are unacceptable.
The Government of Ethiopia has released thousands of political prisoners in the last few months. This is a welcome development. However, the recently re-imposed State of Emergency criminalizes peaceful assembly and allows state security forces to arrest citizens without charge. This State of Emergency must be lifted immediately, which is what this resolution calls for.
The United States must hold the Government of Ethiopia accountable to the peaceful voices of their citizens, while allowing for inclusive political participation and respecting human rights and freedom of expression. All parties must come to the table in order to advance democratic principles and chart the course for a prosperous, inclusive and peaceful Ethiopia. Otherwise, stability and economic progress will suffer over the long term.
There is cause for some hope. I congratulate Dr. Abiy Ahmeh for his recent appointment as Prime Minister. I am encouraged by his call for increased political competition and defense of fundamental human rights. We hope that under his leadership, the government will enact meaningful political, economic and social reforms.
I would also like to thank my colleague Rep. Coffman for his work on this resolution.”