Commentary

Commentary



Disability Orientation, Success Orientation
Friday, 24 July 2015 09:27

Article 25 of the Federal Constitution provides all person a guarantee of equal legal protection without discrimination on grounds of race, nation, nationality, or other social origin, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, property, birth or other status. In Article 13, it is provided that all Federal and State legislative, executive and judicial organs at all levels shall have the responsibilities and duties to be in charge of the fundamental human rights and freedoms. Based on the regulations in the constitution, specific laws for persons with disabilities have been issued the one, prohibiting discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, and the other mandating access to buildings.

The proclamation law of the Right to Employment of Persons with Disabilities for instance makes employers responsible for providing appropriate working conditions to PWDs. The Ethiopian Building Proclamation also mandates building accessibility although specific regulations for accessibility standards have not been adopted.

Since the need for an institution to supervise and control over the proper implementation of the laws, and for the afflicted to lodge their grievances has become necessary, the Institution of the Ombudsman (EIO) was established under the proclamation of 211/2000. Consequently, the EIO receives complaints and seeks remedies to the grieving if the complaint falls under its mandatory. For the convenience of those seeking special support, the EIO has a separate directorate headed by the Ombudsman for Women and Children, namely, the Directorate of Women, Children and Persons With Disabilities Affairs.

The EIO, under aforementioned Directorate, is responsible for promoting the realization and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. In order to accomplish its responsibility, it works jointly in collaboration with different bodies working with those classes of the society to ensure that considerations are integrated into all government programs. It also conducts works of supervision, monitoring and evaluation. Based on the outputs obtained, it recommends where there are limitations in the implementation of the law. It also provides awareness creation programs, initiates and facilitates the implementation of researches for the empowerment of PWDs.

The Right to Employment and The Ethiopian Building Proclamation laws can be cited as primal measure as since after there could be shown progress in narrowing the horizon of the discrimination. As studies show, the number of those going to school and getting employed frequently is showing an increment. According to the Ethiopian Federation of Persons with Disabilities, there are several schools for hearing and visually impaired persons and several training centers for children and young persons with intellectual disabilities.

In spite of the laws and the changes seen, objectively, there are limitations in appropriately enforcing the laws. As a study by AAU in 2008 shows, women with disabilities were more disadvantaged than men disabilities in education and employment. The study also indicates that the enrollment rate for girls with disabilities were lower than for boys at the primary school level, and this gap increased at higher levels of education. Girls with disabilities also are much more likely to suffer from physical and sexual abuse than girls without disabilities. Buildings and toilet facilities are not accessible to physically handicapped persons when compared to even the hearing and impaired persons. Hearing-impaired employees in public institutions are not facilitated with necessary materials and interpreters are not assigned to in as much, although with limitations, as it is for the visually impaired ones.

Whatever the case may be, it is not too late. If the guarantee of rights and freedoms are legitimate to all persons, if the scenario involves all on equal base, there is no doubt that country’s development would show sustainably remarkable progress from which everyone would be equally beneficiary. This can be achieved only with shared responsibilities; i.e. when the Ombudsman plays the supervision and awareness raising role, the executive bodies exercise legitimate authority and citizens’ intolerance about maladministration activities developed

Last Updated on Friday, 24 July 2015 09:34
 
Good Governance – a Shifting Gear to Development
Friday, 24 July 2015 07:05

The concept of good governance can be termed as a set of requirement that conform to governments agenda, making it imply different things in many different contexts. Overall principles of good governance stress how public bodies conduct public affairs and manage public resources in order to guarantee the realization of rule of law.

The UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Strengthens the idea by putting forward that “… good governance relates to political and institutional processes and out comes that are deemed necessary to achieve the goals of development….” The Commission, in its Resolution 2000/64, by linking good governance to sustainable human development, emphasizing principles such as accountability, participation and the enjoyment of rule of law, and rejecting prescriptive approaches to development assistance, stands as an implicit endorsement of the right-based approach to development.

United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on its part, emphasizing on the equitability and effectiveness of good governance, describes good governance as “ensuring that political, social and economical priorities are based on broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest and the most vulnerable are heard in decision-making over the allocation of development resources.”

Institution of the Ombudsman therefore underlines the fact that good governance ensures citizens’ rights and benefits provided for by law are respected by organs of the executive. In due case, the Institution conducts supervision as to how administrative directives by executive organs are issued in accordance with the constitutional rights of citizens.

A proper management of resources guarantees a sustainable development that benefits a whole society equally and equitably. Of course, there is nothing as most desirable to development as good governance. A sustainable development must be derived, for it to achieve its uppermost peak, by good governance.

The objective of economic development especially in democratic countries is to set forth a process of self-reliant and sustainable growth through which citizens shall benefit from national resources equally and equitably so that social justice can be achieved. Besides, economic development is believed to provide equal and appropriate opportunities to take part in development and to overcome disparities and inequalities between men and women as well as the society at large.

From this conceptual analysis, it can be concluded that the central focus of development especially in democratic out look is not necessarily to boost production of material goods; it should rather be to foster and enhance citizens’ capacity to have a role in countries development. To this end, citizens should be willingly involved in a wide range of development activities as agents and beneficiaries of development. Good governance has inevitably a remarkable place in onerous efforts exerted to bring about such development.

It is therefore necessary to enforce the principles of good governance in order to foster the ongoing development endeavors of the country.

 
Three-Legged-Stool Approach to Good Governance
Friday, 24 July 2015 07:01

The fact that realizing good governance would be vital for building country’s development for a betterment of an entire society is among set of principles in a democratic route. The democratic rationale underlines that there is nothing as most desirable to development as good governance. Ideologically, the presupposition that a sustainable development has to be derived, for it to achieve its upper most peak, by good governance implicitly emerges out of the democratic perspective towards ensuring equitability in the allocation of resources among the people regardless of ideological differences, gender, social status and other discriminatory elements. Principles of transparency and accountability on the part of public organizations and participatory on the part of the public are tools behind the realization of good governance. Thus, three fundamental things involved, the absence of either of which would make it impossible.

First of which is the ratification of laws and the capability of the government to get the laws legitimately exercised. When regulations are provided and proper organizational policies and directives are issued, that takes the first step towards the efforts made to curb maladministration. Articles of the Federal Constitution which deal specifically with human and democratic rights of citizen can be cited as supportive evidence to this. According to the Articles, any person shall have, regardless of frontiers, his fundamental human and democratic rights to be respected, and also has the right to benefit from country’s resources equally and equitably. Based on such Articles, there are organizational policies and directives by and to which executive organs shall be governed and responsible. The implementation of the laws, however, requires state capability of leaders and the government to be able to get the regulations implemented properly, without which there may be no room for legal ground necessary for the realization of good governance.

Secondly, public bodies are expected to exercise transparency in serving the citizen. The presence of transparency in public services brings about credibility and can provoke trust among citizens on good results obtained, and develops sense of accountability up on shortcomings on the part of the public bodies. Doing so would enable them to be responsible to the needs of citizens and uphold their rights.

Thirdly, public participatory in public activities should be given due attention. According to the principle of participatory, the public has the right to get informed about the activities of the public bodies and the services given thereof while the later have the obligation to inform the former. The public should be aware of the positive outcomes and the shortcomings in the works of the public bodies as they are the ones directly affected. It should be noted that it would not be taken merely as their right, the citizen are also accountable to scrutinize the public bodies and held them to account. There should be a conducive atmosphere for them to inquisitively raise their opinion. They should thus remain vigilant and demanding for better service delivery.

Thus, good governance should ensue by the integration of laws, policies and directives and state capability of the government in getting things done within these legal frameworks; the responsiveness of public bodies to the needs of citizens, and direct involvement of the citizens in public activities. Not having the three supported one another and missing either of any, in the efforts made to bring about good governance may result in just like a limping walk. As a stool either of the legs left broken would be unable supporting the proper sitting, so is the disintegration incapable of achieving the governance goal.

In order to get the three stay integrated, hence, the need for organizing a recognized body responsible for conducting the supervision and evaluating works had become mandatory, which consequently brought forth the constitutional establishment of the Federal Institution of the Ombudsman (EIO) by the proclamation of 211/2000. The objective of the establishment of EIO is to see to bringing about good governance that is of high quality, efficient and transparent, and are based on the rule of law, by way of ensuring that citizens’ rights and benefits provided for by law are respected by organs of the executive.

Internationally, ombudsman institutions have been established so as to entwist the laws, organizational policies and public participation for better governance. In Ethiopia, the establishment of Institution of the Ombudsman was recognized as a body responsible to controlling, supervising and evaluating whether or not public organs are serving the public in accordance with the rule of law for fear they may malpractice against the rights and benefits of citizens. Accountable to the House of Peoples’ Representative, the EIO committed itself in following up the implementation of the laws; and as a watchdog of the citizen, hears public grievances and seek for remedies. Along with listening to public complaints against maladministration activities, the EIO also provides awareness both for the executive bodies and the citizen in order for the former to legitimize their duties of serving the people according to the law, and for the later understand their rights so as to persistently fight ill practices committed against their rights.

 
Acting Against Gender Inequality- Instrumental for Good Governance
Friday, 24 July 2015 06:50

Even these days, although it has long been a century ever since women’s day is being celebrated worldwide remarking the end of gender inequality, women and girls are said to suffer from multiple and diversified forms of violence even in developed nations. It is sexual (seduction, rape and harassment), child marriage, unequal marriage, female genital mutilation, physical attack, low esteem and other forms of feminicide. It all starts in home, steps out to the outdoor, continuous in school, at work place, etc. leaving a generation scar against women. Every corner faces, every event occurs but against women.

This violence, just like a sword with double blade brandishing and cutting away at the extreme directions-the women at the one and the entire world at the other point, is a viral attack that mutates from generation to generation, from an event to another, unchanging as culture and thoughts change, and uncontrolled in time and space. This violence deprives the woman of her fundamental human and private rights፡ it leaves her both in physical and mental sickness, prevents her from economic and social advancement, slackens her from achieving her full potential; downgrade her personal and natural dignity and respect. It is unfortunate that it is one of the most relentless phenomena encountering the woman.

Stretching its long and crooked hands on the shoulders of the women right straight away towards the rest of the world, it never stops itself from infiltrating in the welfare of the entire realm. Since our global security in respect of social, economic and political stability should only be rescued by the efforts made to bring an equal opportunity to the whole world citizen without gender-based discrimination, the threat against women by any means-directly and/or indirectly-seriously affects the human race. The influence made against one kind of sex is the downfall of the other which intern results in global social, economic and political crisis. That is why it seems to attract world attention to adopt human right conventions based on gender equalities both at international and national level.

So, in order to narrow the gap between women and their men counterparts in participating in and thereby benefit from socio-economic affairs, the adoption of human right conventions became an inevitable. In this regard, many democratic countries passed national human rights resolutions based on the fundamental international human rights conventions, and many of them got the recognition. Since the adoption of the constitution, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) has taken significant administrative, policy and law reform measures aimed at ensuring compatibility of national laws with provisions of international human rights instruments that are relevant to the protection of the rights and benefits of the women. Article 34 of the constitution states that men and women, without any discrimination, have the right to marry and found a family. Article 35 specifically states that women shall have equal right with men, taking into account the historical legacy of inequality and discrimination; they are also entitled to affirmative measures.

Based on the provision of such constitutional rights of women, different institutions with distinct activities and responsibilities and with independent policies and organizational laws were established to work cooperatively. Among which is the Institution of the Ombudsman which was established based on Article 55(15) of the constitution as a watch dog behind the protection of the rights and benefits of the women.

The constitution clearly put that the women, equally as men, have the right to benefit from democratic rights and human rights resolutions, and there are also distinct laws issued on behalf of the women. The Institution of the Ombudsman is thus responsible to conduct the monitoring and supervision of the implementation of the laws. The Institution also provides different awareness creations and researches in order to be able to enhance the women’s active participation and thereby benefit from social and economic activities.

The researches have been conducted for example on equitability of gender-based rural land distribution, implementation of special support given to women, inspection of public policies and procedures whether they are designed to protect the rights and benefits of the women. The Institution in collaboration with other executive bodies, especially with those working pro-women’s rights, and civil society organizations is making extensive efforts to create awareness on gender equality.

Generally, as the objective of the Institution is to bring about good governance that is of high quality by way of ensuring that citizen’s rights and benefits provided by law are respected by organs of the executive, it is playing a significant role in the activities made to ensure the rights of the women. One important thing everyone should hold clarity about is that the threat of violence, whatever from it may take, thrown to the women, erodes by its damaging floods eating away every world citizen without discrimination of gender, age, race, culture, etc. therefore, everyone must fight against such mass destructive violence not merely for the benefit of the women, but for the sake of the universal welfare.

 
Proactive and Reactive Obligations
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 06:53

The right of access to information drives primarily from the guarantee of freedom of expression found in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It provides that all citizens enjoy rights of freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to ‘seek, receive, and impart information and ideas, a guarantee now generally considered to include an obligation of openness on the part of government.

Article 29 of Ethiopian constitution as per Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that everyone shall have the right to hold opinions and to freedom of expression without interference. This right shall include freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through other media of his choice.

Right of access to information laws reflects the fundamental premise that governments should serve the people. This right of access to information places two obligations with two parts on governments. These are proactive and reactive obligations.

The proactive obligation enforces the public organs to dispatch information prior to any requests made for information. It includes a duty to publish and disseminate to the public key information including core classes of information such as policies and their organizational structures and duties, officials responsibilities and decision-making procedures, descriptions of complaint hearing mechanism, a description of its regulations, directives, policies, guidelines, and manuals which govern the operation and activities of their various organs and of employees of the organizations. In this case, it is certain that the public can know what the government is doing, can participate in public matters and keep public authorities accountable. This develops transparency and openness on the part of government and credibility and trust on the part of the people. Therefore, all information held in a recorded form by public organs can be proactively accessed unless they fall under the exceptions established in the access to information laws.

The reactive obligation enforces the public organs to receive from the public requests for information and thereby responding to it. Here, all persons have the right to ask public officials for information about their activities and responsibilities, and any documents they hold, whereas, the public officials have the duty to give an answer with access granted either by viewing original documents or provision of copies. In case, the information upon which the request is made may fall under exception, the public organs may not be forced to give, but the requester has still the right to lodge his request while the officials have the duty to explain the reason of rejecting the request since the requester has still the right to appeal.

Hence, respecting both obligations-proactive and reactive- (of disseminating information and receiving requests for information and responding to it) ensures the implementation of access to information law on the one hand, and creates transparency and openness on the part of government thereby creating credibility and trust by the people on government activities on the other.

The principle behind the right of access to information is that public bodies are acting as servants of the people. It is therefore, important that the government that creates or controls the information avail it to the public in a form that is accurate, timely and accessible.

Last Updated on Friday, 31 October 2014 08:40
 
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