[dehai-news] Charity is the latest victim in Ethiopia

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Feb 06 2009 - 14:32:36 EST

Charity is the latest victim in Ethiopia

Posted By: <http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/alice_klein> Alice Klein at Feb 6,
2009 at 17:21:00 [
<http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/alice_klein/blog/cat/general> General]

Recent news that the Ethiopian government has
> cracked down on charities which receive funding from overseas should be a
major cause for concern.

The Charities and Societies Act states that any organisation receiving more
than 10% of its funding from abroad is a "foreign NGO" (non-governmental

In Ethiopia, a country where approximately a quarter of the population live
on a dollar a day, charities inevitably struggle to raise funds domestically
and subsequently look overseas.

According to the Guardian, organisations like the Ethiopian Human Rights
Council and the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association depend on foreign money
by up to 90%.

But criminalising charity work appears to be the latest in a string of
efforts to crack down on any form of dissent in the East African country.

Censorship of media is already rife. Last summer saw the Mass Media and
Freedom of Information Proclamation passed in the House of Peoples'
Representatives, drafted without consultation from journalists or legal

Some say the changes are in nervous preparation for next year's election but
regardless of intention, it is drawing worrying parallels with heavily
censored countries such as Zimbabwe where Zanu PF passed the Access to
Information and Protect of Privacy Act in 2002.

The law saw foreign news organisations banned and many domestic publications
shut down including <http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/> The Zimbabwean, which
is now edited by the charismatic Wilf Mbanga in England and printed in the
UK and South Africa.

The few journalists that remain must be licensed, registered and pay a huge
fee only to have every cough and spit heavily monitored.

If <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7867345.stm> Ethiopia's
conflict with Somalia continues, it is vital that independent media be able
to report on it (unlike in Zimbabwe) and that humanitarian charities remain
active...even if their funding comes from western donors.

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