The Millennium/DPI joint venture is implementing USAID’s Feteh (‘justice’, in Amharic) Activity in Ethiopia. It is a two-year project to support the strengthening of independent rule of law institutions in Ethiopia.
MDPI, through Feteh, is providing flexible, rapid response technical assistance to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), relevant legal drafting sub-committees within the AGO, the Federal Supreme Court of Ethiopia (FSCE), and related government entities. Activities include making grants to civil society organizations (CSOs) and the media to ensure public input on democratic reforms, enhance citizen engagement, and to engage the public with consultations on proposed changes to the country’s legal and judicial framework.
The primary objectives of Feteh are to:
1. Build the capacity of the AGO, its 14-person Council, its legal drafting sub-committees, the FSCE, and other rule of law actors to adopt and implement legal and judicial reforms consistent with international human rights norms, with the AGO and FSCE’s concurrence and buy-in;
2. Support the ability of CSOs and the media to engage the AGO and its Advisory Council’s legal drafting sub-committees on legal and judicial reforms;
3. Support the appropriate committees in the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HOPR) to ensure they gain sufficient capacity and know-how to approve the adoption of the legal reforms;
4. Support the FSCE to improve Ethiopia’s court management system.
Feteh is working with the FSCE to revise laws governing the judiciary, including public consultations on newly drafted laws. The project is also enhancing case flow management and launching a pilot backlog reduction and prevention program, strengthening commercial benches and updating civil and criminal bench books, and reviewing and updating the Judicial Code of Ethics and Rules of Disciplinary Procedure to strengthen judicial ethics and accountability.
Feteh worked with the AGO and its sub-committees on a substantive review of key draft laws and translated them to and from Amharic/English to facilitate expert review and public consultations. These include the Commercial Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Administrative Procedures Proclamation, and the Conciliation and Arbitration Proclamation, which has improved the legal environment for foreign investment. Similarly, Feteh is supporting the drafting of revisions to Ethiopia’s banking and insurance laws, in preparation for the adoption of a future Financial Services Code, the first serious attempt by the GOE in many decades to modernize the legal framework governing this sector.
During the first year of project’s efforts, Feteh facilitated the adoption of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, and Prison Administration Proclamation, two key draft laws prepared by the AGO’s Advisory Council working groups. The new Prison Administration Proclamation brought critical attention to overlooked needs of women in the prison system in particular regarding the regular distribution of sanitary pads, accountability measures for officers to reduce sexual harassment, and the provision of maternal health services, among others. Feteh’s incorporates gender considerations into all reforms including research and data collection, the policy implications of new and amended laws, and networking and partnership opportunities.
Through its subcontractors, Feteh’s mass media programs use television, radio, and the internet to actively increase the public’s legal awareness and improve public perception of recent legal and justice reforms. These methods effectively address the general lack of legal knowledge and misconceptions about legal reforms. Feteh is engaging audiences nation-wide through quality prime-time TV programs that spotlight justice and legal reform through short documentary dramas, forums, and town-hall meetings. Yenge Menged broadcasts in a format which breaks down complex legal issues into easily understandable segments. The broadcasts allows their 5-8 million listeners across the country to discuss and comment, giving their verdicts as if they were judges and/or jury. Feteh uses social media channels to amplify the reach of these initiatives, expanding the pool of participating voices and building strong engagement with the public.