Oct. 21 (ESAT News)–The Supreme Court has upheld the ruling of lower court to freeze and confiscate asset and money of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association and Human Rights Council, two nonprofit organizations targeted by the regime for their vocal human rights campaign.
The Supreme Court ruled this week that the decision of the high court to confiscate the assets of the two NGOs estimated around 20 million birr was justified.
The asset seizure ensued after the regime passed a draconian law that prohibits NGOs working in areas of human rights and advocacy from accepting grants from foreign entities that exceeds 10 percent of their total budget. Though the NGOs vigorously tried to argue that the funds expropriated were received as donations before the law came into effect the Supreme Court, however, rejected their appeals.
The Charities and Civil Societies Law has been widely criticized by local and international rights groups for being explicitly aimed at weakening civil society groups that particularly promote human rights.
Endalkachew Molla, Director of the Human Rights Council, told ESAT that HRC was forced to reduce its workforce from 60 to 12 and closed 9 of its 12 offices in different parts of the country.
He noted that as a result of the unjust decision it has become difficult for the organization to render its direly needed services. But the director vowed that the organization will continue its operations despite the hardships it is facing.