the Government of Ethiopia
- Enact protections for the right to privacy
to prevent abuse and arbitrary use of surveillance, national security, and law
enforcement powers as guaranteed under international law applicable to Ethiopia.
Surveillance should occur only as provided in law, be necessary and
proportionate to achieve a legitimate aim, and be subject to both judicial and
- Legal safeguards should limit the nature,
scope, and duration of possible surveillance, the grounds required for ordering
them, and the authorities competent to authorize, carry out, and supervise
- Ensure that information obtained through
email or telephone interception or access to call records is inadmissible in
courts unless a court warrant has been obtained. All laws enabling the
admissibility of intercepted information in court should be amended to require
a court warrant, including the Criminal Code, the Telecom Fraud Proclamation, and
the Prevention and Suppression of Money Laundering and the Financing of
- Enact protections for call records and other
“metadata” so that such information may not be collected or
accessed by police, security, or intelligence agencies without a court order
and oversight to prevent abuse, unauthorized use or disclosure of that
- Enforce the requirements for a court warrant
prior to interception/surveillance under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and
the NISS Proclamation. Ethio Telecom should not provide access to metadata or
recorded phone calls without a warrant from a competent, independent and
impartial court in line with international standards. Any data collection or
surveillance conducted by the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) or
National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) should require prior court
- Immediately unblock all websites of
political parties, media, and bloggers and commit to not block such websites in
- Immediately cease all jamming of radio and
television stations and commit to not jam radio and television stations in the
- Cease harassing individuals for exercising
their right to freedom of expression online through social media and blogs.
- Appropriately discipline or prosecute officials,
regardless of rank or position, who arbitrarily arrest or detain or ill-treat individuals
on the basis of unlawfully intercepted or acquired information. Impose criminal
penalties for illegal surveillance by public or private actors.
- Report annually on the government’s use
of surveillance powers. This reporting should include: the number of data
requests made to Ethio Telecom, cybercafés, or other mobile and Internet
service providers; the number of requests for real-time interception or
recording of phone calls; and the number of individuals or accounts that were
implicated by such requests.
- Provide protections for the rights to
freedom of expression and privacy to prevent abuse of emergency powers to shut
down networks or intercept communications.
- Repeal or amend all laws that infringe upon
privacy rights, the right to information, and the rights to freedom of
expression, association, movement, and peaceful assembly, including the Anti-Terrorism
Proclamation, the NISS Proclamation, the Telecom Fraud Proclamation, and the
Prevention and Suppression of Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism,
to bring them in line with international standards. Amendments should include
the following articles:
- Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, article 23(1) and (2) (permitting
non-disclosure of information sources and hearsay) and the NISS Proclamation, article
27 (requiring cooperation with NISS information requests). Ethio Telecom and
INSA officials should cooperate with NISS only when a court warrant is granted
facilitating access to user information.
- Telecom Fraud Proclamation, articles 6(1) (criminalizes
dissemination of messages about activities punishable under the anti-terrorism
law) and 10(3) (criminalizes commercial use of VoIP).
To International Technology
and Telecom Companies Serving Ethiopia
- Assess human rights risks raised by
potential business activity, including risk posed to the rights of freedom of
expression, access to information, association, and privacy. Assessments should
address risk of misuse of non-customized, “off-the-shelf” equipment
sold to governments that may be used to facilitate illegal surveillance or
censorship. Assessments should also address the risk of customizing products
and services for law enforcement, intelligence, and security agency customers.
- As part of a tender or contract negotiation
process, inquire about the end use and end users of the products or services being
provided, especially for “dual use” products, including
“lawful intercept” surveillance software and equipment.
- Develop strategies to mitigate the risk of
abuses linked to business operations and new contracts, including by
incorporating human rights safeguards into business agreements. Such strategies
should be consistent with the Global Network Initiative (GNI) principles and
the United Nations “Protect, Respect, and Remedy” Framework for
business and human rights.
- Adopt policies and procedures to stop or
address misuse of products and services, including contractual provisions that
designate end use and end users, the violation of which would allow the company
to withdraw services or cease technical support or upgrades. Promptly
investigate any misuse of products or services and take concrete steps to
address human rights abuses linked to business operations.
- Adopt human rights policies outlining how
the company will resist government requests for censorship, illegal
surveillance, or network shutdowns, including procedures for narrowing requests
that may be disproportionate or challenge requests not supported by law.
- Extend human rights policies and procedures
to address the actions of resellers, distributors, and other business partners.
- Commit to independent and transparent
third-party monitoring to ensure compliance with human rights standards, including
by joining a multi-stakeholder initiative like the GNI.
- Advocate for reform of surveillance or
censorship laws to bring them in line with international human rights standards.
- Review any contracts or engagements
initiated before 2008 and craft strategies to address and mitigate any adverse
harm that may flow from operations that currently continue under these
contracts, consistent with guidance provided by the GNI and UN principles, both
launched in 2008. As contracts come up for renewal, incorporate human rights
safeguards into newly negotiated contracts.
To the Governments of China,
Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Others
- Regulate the export and trade of “dual
use” surveillance and censorship technologies such as deep packet
inspection equipment and intrusion software. Require such companies subject to
national jurisdiction operating abroad to report on any human rights policies
and due diligence activity to prevent rights abuses and remedy them if they
- Introduce or implement legal frameworks,
such as an independent ombudsperson, that allow government institutions to
monitor the human rights performance of companies selling surveillance
software, technology, or services subject to national jurisdiction when they
operate abroad in areas that carry serious human rights risks. Frameworks
should include an effective complaints mechanism accessible to individuals and
communities in Ethiopia, and those representing them, who allege harmful
conduct or impact by companies subject to national jurisdiction doing business
in Ethiopia, with findings and decisions binding on companies.
- Communicate an expectation to the government
of Ethiopia that companies operating in Ethiopia should be able to implement
the recommendations outlined above.
the World Bank, African Development Bank, and other Donors
human rights due diligence on telecommunication projects in Ethiopia, to
prevent directly or indirectly supporting violations of the rights to
privacy or freedom of expression, association, or movement; or access to
information including through censorship, illegal surveillance, or network
shutdowns. This should include assessing the human rights risks of each
activity prior to project approval and throughout the life of the project,
identifying measures to avoid or mitigate risks, and comprehensively
supervising the projects including through third parties. This due
diligence should extend to any government or private sector partners to
ensure that they are not implicated in violations.
- Publicly and
privately raise with government officials concerns about censorship,
illegal surveillance, and network shutdowns and that human rights
violations may undermine development priorities.