25 August 2023 (Bishoftu, Ethiopia): The IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP) has successfully conducted a National Workshop for Ethiopia’s Judiciary under the theme “Developing Criminal Justice Information System: AU’s continental policy on transitional Justice and Ethiopia’s national initiative on inclusive and comprehensive transitional justice as a mechanism of promoting sustainable peace, democracy and justice” on 23-25 August 2023.
The general objective of this workshop was to introduce and equip Federal Court Judges with the concept of transitional justice and Ethiopia's policy options and to prepare them to entertain transitional justice competently. Specifically, the workshop aimed to provide the judiciary with the concept, objective, and various mechanisms of transitional justice and to:
- Sensitize judges on draft transitional justice policy of Ethiopia and on the AU transitional justice policy
- Share the challenges and best experience of other countries in handling transitional cases by the adjudicative bodies
- Share the previous transitional justice experiences of Ethiopia- The Dergue Officals cases etc
The 3-days National workshop brought together about 61 senior judges of the Supreme, High and First Instance Courts of the Country including the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the Courts. Senior subject matter experts from Ethiopia’s Transitional Justice Working Group of Experts and professional staff of IGAD SSP facilitated the workshop.
On behalf of H.E Doctor Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary of IGAD; Commander Abebe Muluneh Beyene, the Director of IGAD SSP and Head of IGAD Mission to Ethiopia, delivered the keynote speech and expressed his sincerest gratitude to the Government of Ethiopia for facilitation with particular thanks to the President of Federal High Courts, Ms. Lelise Dessalegn and Mr. Tesfaye Newai, the Vice President of the Federal Fist Instance Court for their cooperation in making the workshop a reality. He also thanked the European Union and ADA for their generous support towards this event. Commander Abebe, in his keynote speech, has reaffirmed the leading role of IGAD to bring sustainable peace and security in the region by enhancing and enabling member states’ security sector capacities to address common transitional security threats (TSTs), thus endangering sustainable economic development. He mentioned that the IGAD Security Sector Program has continued its support to its Member States’ efforts in building sustainable peace through various initiatives and according to the strategic priority areas of the Program Office. He stated that this national workshop was part of this effort in supporting Ethiopia’s initiative to develop an inclusive and comprehensive transitional Justice policy. In this regard, he said that “The importance of transitional justice policy options to be implemented in Ethiopia has four dominant reasons. (1) The state of the national context indicates that it is necessary to implement the transitional justice system process: (2) The role of a successful transition process for the construction and continuity of the state is high (3) The fact that without the implementation of a successful transition process, it is impossible to ensure the transition of democracy and lasting peace: and (4) Implementation of the transitional justice system is an irreplaceable contribution to the respect of human rights and the establishment of the rule of law.” The guest of honour, H.E Mrs. Abeba Embiale, Vice President of the Federal Supreme Court, officially opened the workshop by thanking IGAD for the timely workshop and the support in Ethiopia’s transitional justice process.
The workshop brought together about 62 senior judges from the Federal supreme, high and first instance courts including the President and Vice Presidents, with full attendance. During the three days national workshop, national experts on the subject matter and who are also part of the Transitional Justice Working Group of Experts, shared their expertise, insights, and knowledge through presentations, group discussions, and debates covering the following topics:
- Transitional Justice – Conceptual underpinning, History, Global Experiences
- AU Transitional Justice Policy Framework: Ethiopia’s Experience in TJ initiatives
- Policy Options for Transitional Justice: Draft for Stakeholder Consultations January 2023
- Public Consultations on Policy Options for Transitional Justice: Update on Methodlogies, Approaches and Next Steps
- National Transitional Justice Initiative and the Judiciary: Expected Measures and Legal/Institutional Reforms
- Post Meeting Possible Actions and Way Forward
The workshop was concluded with a high note and commitment to put the consultation points, and further engagement on the policy for its successful development and also implementation. At the closing ceremony, Commander Abebe appreciated the participants’ transparent and energetic discussions, the efforts of the experts, as well as those involved in making the event a success. The workshop was officially closed by H.E. Mr. Tewodros Mihret, the President of the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia, who pointed out the various policy measures to be taken, provided further clarification on the process of the transitional justice policy options, and assured the participants the commitment of the Supreme Court in building trust and confidence in the justice system.
IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP) was established pursuant to the regional peace and security strategy to address Transnational Security Threats (TSTs). The overall objective of IGAD SSP is to promote and strengthen regional and national capacities to better predict, prevent and counter TSTs and thereby contribute to regional peace and stability in the IGAD region. According to the IGAD Regional Comprehensive Vulnerability Assessment, the region and the individual states are very vulnerable and affected by various serious organized crimes, terrorism, maritime insecurity, and other crimes at national and regional levels. The assessment provided a detailed account of the security threats affecting the States and provided concrete recommendations to prevent and counter these threats.
This regional training was organized with the financial support from the European Union through European Union Trust Fund (EUTF), which is being implemented by IGAD SSP and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). (END)