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Ethiopia: Terrorism Law Drafted

(June 4, 2009) It was reported on June 2, 2009, that the Council of Ministers of Ethiopia had submitted to the House of People's Representatives for approval a draft law on terrorism that seeks to expand the powers of law enforcement authorities. (Yonas Abiye, Country Moves to Strengthen Anti-Terrorism Law Media Warner Not to Serve Terrorist Purposes, DAILY MONITOR, June 2, 2009, available at

The draft law delegates to the law enforcement authorities more powers to detain suspects who do not manifest clear intent to commit a terrorist attack and to intercept telephone and email communications. It prohibits any association or contact with terrorist organizations. It makes cooperation with authorities on matters of terrorism mandatory and failure to notify law enforcement agencies of terror plots a crime of omission punishable by law. It provides for the establishment of a National Committee of Anti-Terrorism Coordinating Office, consisting of the Ministry of Justice, the Central Intelligence and Information Agency, and the Federal Police. (Id.)

According to State Ministers of the Government Communication Affairs Bureau, Shimelis Kemal and Ermias Legesse, the draft law seeks to impose strict criminal liability on any media outlet that disseminates information that “voice[s] out the intention of terrorists.” (Id.) Kemal and Legesse insist that the draft law was modeled after similar laws in Australia, Canada, South Africa, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States, that its provisions do not derogate from the constitutionally guaranteed rights afforded to common criminals, and that it provides for judicial oversight of law enforcement actions. (Id.)