Text: H.R.5680 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (06/26/2006)

[Congressional Bills 109th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 5680 Introduced in House (IH)]

  2d Session
                                H. R. 5680

   To encourage and facilitate the consolidation of security, human 
          rights, democracy, and economic freedom in Ethiopia.



                             June 26, 2006

Mr. Smith of New Jersey (for himself, Mr. Payne, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Lantos, 
 Mr. Tancredo, Mr. Towns, Mr. Rangel, Mr. Leach, Mr. Rohrabacher, Mr. 
  Moran of Virginia, Mr. Chabot, Mr. Al Green of Texas, Mr. Sabo, Ms. 
Loretta Sanchez of California, Mr. Scott of Virginia, Ms. Corrine Brown 
of Florida, and Ms. McKinney) introduced the following bill; which was 
          referred to the Committee on International Relations


                                 A BILL

   To encourage and facilitate the consolidation of security, human 
          rights, democracy, and economic freedom in Ethiopia.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy, and 
Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006''.


    It is the policy of the United States to--
            (1) support the advancement of human rights, democracy, 
        independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, 
        peacekeeping capacity building, and economic development in the 
        Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia;
            (2) collaborate with Ethiopia in the Global War on Terror;
            (3) seek the unconditional release of all political 
        prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia;
            (4) foster stability, democracy, and economic development 
        in the region; and
            (5) strengthen United States-Ethiopian relations based on 
        the policy objectives specified in paragraphs (1) through (4).


    Congress finds the following:
            (1) The people of Ethiopia have suffered for decades due to 
        military conflicts, natural disasters, poverty and diseases, 
        regional instability, and the brutal dictatorship of the 
        military junta under Mengistu Haile Mariam. Hundreds of 
        thousands of civilians were brutally murdered by the Mengistu 
        regime, including women and children. Many more sacrificed 
        their lives fighting for freedom, respect for human rights, and 
        to bring an end to the brutal dictatorship of the Mengistu 
        regime. Members of that murderous regime are currently living 
        in Europe, the United States, and Africa.
            (2) In May 1991, the brutal dictatorship of the Mengistu 
        regime came to an abrupt end when the Ethiopian People's 
        Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) defeated the Mengistu 
        army. In July 1991, the EPRDF and a coalition of other 
        political groups established a transitional government in 
        Ethiopia. A number of liberation movements joined the 
        transitional government in a spirit of a new start and the 
        building of a democratic Ethiopia. These groups included the 
        Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the Ogaden National Liberation 
        Front (ONLF), and many others.
            (3) Since the ouster of the Mengistu regime in 1991, the 
        EPRDF-led government instituted a multiparty system and 
        organized three regional and national elections and a number of 
        local elections. The 1995 and 2000 elections were largely 
        boycotted and judged to be neither free nor fair. Some 
        opposition groups participated in the 2000 elections, giving 
        such groups 12 seats in the 546-seat parliament.
            (4) The May 2005 pre-election period and the conduct of the 
        elections in Ethiopia were seen by observers to be transparent, 
        competitive, and relatively free and fair, although there were 
        a number of problems reported. More than 90 percent of 
        registered voters participated and dozens of political parties 
        took part in the elections. Moreover, some international groups 
        observed the elections, unprecedented access to the mass media 
        was given to the opposition, and there were televised debates 
        between the government and the opposition. Some political 
        parties and armed political groups boycotted the 2005 
        elections. However, trained local groups were barred from 
        observing the elections.
            (5) Despite apparent improvement in the electoral process, 
        preliminary election results announced by the Government of 
        Ethiopia shortly after the May 15, 2005, elections were seen by 
        observers as questionable. The opposition accused the 
        Government of Ethiopia of stealing the elections and called for 
        civil disobedience, which resulted in the killing of 
        demonstrators and detention of opposition leaders and thousands 
        of their followers, including 11 elected members of parliament 
        and the elected mayor of Addis Ababa.
            (6) The Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), the United 
        Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF), and the ruling EPRDF 
        reached an agreement to resolve disputed election results 
        peacefully with the help of the National Electoral Board (NEB). 
        The NEB investigated more than 299 complaints and later agreed 
        to hold reruns in 31 constituencies. In late August 2005, the 
        NEB held reruns in the 31 constituencies as well as in all 23 
        constituencies in the Somali region, where elections had been 
        postponed due to insecurity.
            (7) Election results show that opposition parties won 170 
        seats in the national parliament, a significant increase from 
        the 12 seats they won in the last elections. Opposition parties 
        also won the city council in Addis Ababa, giving them control 
        over the capital. An estimated 150 of the 170 opposition 
        members of parliament have taken their seats. In early May 
        2006, the Government of Ethiopia appointed a caretaker 
        government in the capital. Members of parliament from the CUD 
        walked out of parliament in protest. The CUD won the city, but 
        the designated mayor has been in detention since November 2005.
            (8) Human rights conditions deteriorated significantly 
        after the May 15, 2005, elections in Ethiopia and overall human 
        rights conditions in the country remain poor. The Department of 
        State, in its 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 
        noted a myriad of human rights abuses by the Government of 
        Ethiopia. Moreover, journalists and editors of the independent 
        press have been and continue to face harassment and prosecution 
        for alleged violations of press laws in Ethiopia. Dozens of 
        journalists have fled the country, and some are currently in 
        exile fearing prosecution or harassment.
            (9) In June 2005, more than 35 demonstrators were killed by 
        Ethiopian Government security personnel and in November 2005 an 
        estimated 53 people were killed, including seven policemen, 
        according to Human Rights Watch and several other reports. The 
        violence against these victims occurred after pro-opposition 
        groups went to the streets of the capital to protest government 
        actions in handling the elections results of May 2005. Tens of 
        thousands of people suspected of being opposition supporters 
        were detained over the past months, although many of these 
        detainees were released. Nonetheless, government security 
        forces continue to abuse opposition leaders, supporters, and 
        family members.
            (10) An estimated 112 political leaders, human rights 
        activists, community leaders, and journalists, including the 
        chairman of the CUD (Hailu Shawel), the newly elected Mayor of 
        Addis Ababa (Berhanu Nega), and the founder of the Ethiopian 
        Human Rights Council (Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam), were 
        imprisoned and charged with treason and genocide. These 
        measures were deliberately taken to stifle and criminalize 
        opposition party activity in the country. The measures also 
        were intended to intimidate and silence independent press and 
        civil society, raising serious question about the Ethiopian 
        Government's commitment to democracy and good governance.


    The Secretary of State shall--
            (1) establish a mechanism to provide financial support to 
        local and national human rights groups and other relevant civil 
        society organizations to help strengthen human rights 
        monitoring and regular reporting on human rights conditions in 
            (2) establish a program to provide legal support for 
        political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and to assist 
        local groups or groups from outside Ethiopia that are active in 
        monitoring the status of political prisoners and prisoners of 
        conscience in Ethiopia;
            (3) seek to increase the independence of the Ethiopian 
        judiciary through facilitation of joint discussions for court 
        personnel, officials from the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice, 
        relevant members of the legislature, and civil society 
        representatives on international human rights standards;
            (4) create and support a judicial monitoring process, 
        consisting of local and international groups, to monitor 
        judicial proceedings throughout Ethiopia, with special focus on 
        unwarranted government intervention on strictly judicial 
        matters, and to investigate and report on actions to strengthen 
        an independent judiciary;
            (5) establish a program to strengthen private media in 
        Ethiopia, provide support for training purposes, offer 
        technical and other types of support as necessary, and expand 
        programming by the Voice of America to Ethiopia; and
            (6) establish a mechanism to identify and extradite members 
        of the Mengistu Haile Mariam regime and the current government 
        residing in the United States who were engaged in gross human 
        rights violations and work with other governments to identify 
        and extradite such persons, including Mengistu Haile Mariam.


    (a) Strengthening Local, Regional, and National Democratic 
Processes.--The Secretary of State shall--
            (1) provide assistance to strengthen local, regional, and 
        national parliaments and governments in Ethiopia through 
        training in consultation with government authorities, political 
        parties, and civil society groups;
            (2) establish a program focused on reconciliation efforts 
        between the Government of Ethiopia and peaceful political and 
        civil society groups, including in minority communities, in 
        preparation for negotiation and for participation in the 
        political process;
            (3) strengthen training for political parties in Ethiopia 
        in areas such as organization building and campaign management;
            (4) provide training for civil society groups in election 
        monitoring in Ethiopia; and
            (5) facilitate ongoing communications between the 
        Government of Ethiopia through the National Election Board 
        (NEB) in order to address issues such as delimitation of 
        constituencies, voter registration, political party 
        registration, candidate registration, and related matters to 
        enhance the credibility of the next elections in Ethiopia.
    (b) Democracy Enhancement.--
            (1) Assistance.--United States technical assistance for 
        democracy promotion in Ethiopia should be made available to the 
        ruling party as well as opposition parties in Ethiopia.
            (2) Restriction.--
                    (A) In general.--Nonessential United States 
                assistance shall not be made available to the 
                Government of Ethiopia if the Government of Ethiopia 
                acts to obstruct United States technical assistance to 
                advance human rights, democracy, independence of the 
                judiciary, freedom of the press, economic development 
                and economic freedom in Ethiopia.
                    (B) Definition.--In this paragraph, the term 
                ``nonessential United States assistance'' means 
                assistance under any provision of law, other than 
                humanitarian assistance, assistance under emergency 
                food programs, assistance to combat HIV/AIDS, and other 
                health care assistance.


    (a) Limitation on Security Assistance; Travel Restrictions.--
            (1) Limitation on security assistance.--
                    (A) In general.--Except as provided in subparagraph 
                (B), security assistance shall not be provided to 
                Ethiopia until such time as the certification described 
                in paragraph (3) is made in accordance with such 
                    (B) Exception.--Subparagraph (A) shall not apply 
                with respect to peacekeeping or counter-terrorism 
                assistance. Peacekeeping or counter-terrorism 
                assistance provided to Ethiopia shall not be used for 
                any other security-related purpose or to provide 
                training to security personnel or units accused of 
                human rights violations against civilians.
            (2) Travel restrictions.--Beginning on the date that is 60 
        days after the date of the enactment of this Act and until such 
        time as the certification described in paragraph (3) is made in 
        accordance with such paragraph, the President shall deny a visa 
        and entry into the United States to--
                    (A) any official of the Government of Ethiopia 
                            (i) has been involved in giving orders to 
                        use lethal force against peaceful demonstrators 
                        in Ethiopia; or
                            (ii) has been accused of gross human rights 
                    (B) security personnel of the Government of 
                Ethiopia who were involved in the June or November 2005 
                shootings of demonstrators; and
                    (C) Ethiopian civilians who were involved in the 
                November 2005 killings of seven policemen in Ethiopia.
            (3) Certification.--The certification described in this 
        paragraph is a certification by the President to Congress that 
        the Government of Ethiopia is making credible, quantifiable 
        efforts to ensure that--
                    (A) all political prisoners and prisoners of 
                conscience in Ethiopia have been released, their civil 
                and political rights restored, and their property 
                    (B) prisoners held without charge or kept in 
                detention without fair trial in violation of the 
                Constitution of Ethiopia are released or receive a fair 
                and speedy trial, and prisoners whose charges have been 
                dismissed or acquitted and are still being held are 
                released without delay;
                    (C) the Ethiopian judiciary is able to function 
                independently and allowed to uphold the Ethiopian 
                Constitution and international human rights standards;
                    (D) the investigation of the killing of civilian 
                protesters by Ethiopian security forces is credible, 
                transparent, and those involved in the unlawful killing 
                are punished;
                    (E) family members, legal counsel, and others have 
                unfettered access to visit detainees in Ethiopian 
                    (F) print and broadcast media in Ethiopia are able 
                to operate free from undue interference and laws 
                restricting media freedom, including sections of the 
                Ethiopian Federal Criminal Code, are revised;
                    (G) licensing of independent radio and television 
                in Ethiopia is open and transparent;
                    (H) access in Ethiopia is provided to the Internet 
                and the ability of citizens to freely send and receive 
                electronic mail and otherwise obtain information is 
                    (I) the National Election Board (NEB) includes 
                representatives of political parties with seats in the 
                Ethiopian Parliament and guarantees independence for 
                the NEB in its decision-making;
                    (J) representatives of international human rights 
                organizations engaged in human rights monitoring work 
                in Ethiopia are admitted to Ethiopia without undue 
                restriction; and
                    (K) Ethiopian human rights organizations are able 
                to operate in an environment free of harassment, 
                intimidation, and persecution.
            (4) Waiver.--
                    (A) In general.--The President may waive the 
                application of paragraph (1) or (2) on a case-by-case 
                basis if the President determines that--
                            (i) to the maximum extent practicable, the 
                        Government of Ethiopia has met the requirement 
                        of paragraph (3)(A); and
                            (ii) such a waiver is in the national 
                        interests of the United States.
                    (B) Notification.--Prior to granting a waiver under 
                the authority of subparagraph (A), the President shall 
                transmit to Congress a notification that includes the 
                reasons for the waiver.
    (b) Treatment of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience.--
            (1) In general.--The President, the Secretary of State, and 
        other relevant officials of the Government of the United States 
        shall call upon the Government of Ethiopia to immediately 
        release all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, 
        especially prisoners held without charge.
            (2) Torture victim relief.--While it is the responsibility 
        of the Government of Ethiopia to compensate the victims of 
        unlawful imprisonment and torture and their families for their 
        suffering and losses, the President shall provide assistance 
        for the rehabilitation of victims of torture in Ethiopia at 
        centers established for such purposes pursuant to section 130 
        of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2152).
    (c) Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that the 
Government of the United States should--
            (1) encourage the Government of Ethiopia to enter into 
        discussions with the Oromo Liberation Front to bring them into 
        full participation in the political and economic affairs of 
        Ethiopia, including their legalization as a political party; 
            (2) provide such assistance as is warranted and necessary 
        to help achieve the goal described in paragraph (1).


    (a) Economic Policy Assistance.--Utilizing training and other 
technical assistance programs offered by the Department of the 
Treasury, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and the 
Department of Justice, the President shall assist the Government of 
Ethiopia in developing policies that will address key economic 
obstacles, including in such areas as budgeting, taxation, debt 
management, bank supervision, anti-money laundering, and land title 
security that inhibit private sector development and limit 
participation in donor programs such as the United States Millennium 
Challenge Account.
    (b) Financing for United States-Ethiopian Commercial Ventures.--
Pursuant to the Government of Ethiopia's acceptance of the reforms in 
subsection (a), the President shall make available adequate financing 
for United States and Ethiopian private commercial ventures, including 
programs of the United States Agency for International Development, the 
Small Business Administration (including, but not limited to, the 
Export Express and Export Working Capital programs), the Overseas 
Private Investment Corporation (including, but not limited to, the 
Small Business Center and the Small and Medium Enterprise and 
Structural Finance programs), and the Export-Import Bank of the United 
States (including, but not limited to, the Short-Term Africa Pilot 
    (c) Resource Policy Assistance.--The President, acting through the 
Administrator of the United States Agency for International 
Development, shall provide assistance for sustainable development of 
Ethiopia's Nile and Awash River resources, including assistance to help 
Ethiopia with the technology necessary for the construction of 
irrigation systems and hydroelectric power that might prevent future 


    Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this 
Act, the President shall transmit to Congress a report on the 
implementation of this Act, including a description of a comprehensive 
plan to address the security, human rights, democratization, and 
economic freedom concerns that potentially threaten the stability of 
the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.


    (a) In General.--There are authorized to be appropriated to carry 
out this Act $10,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2007 and 2008.
    (b) Availability.--Amounts appropriated pursuant to the 
authorization of appropriations under subsection (a) are authorized to 
remain available until expended.

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