The new guidelines are the result of a project supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa, operated by the Ethiopian NGO “Justice for All – Prison Fellowship Ethiopia”. The guidelines have been developed in close collaboration with international experts and representatives of large parts of the Ethiopian justice system, from federal and regional levels. Present at the launch were also the Attorney General and the Federal Prison Commissioner. The production of new prosecution guidelines is part of a larger programme aimed at enhancing the protection of human rights and justice service delivery in Ethiopia.
Below follows a recitation of the Norwegian Ambassador’s remarks:
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Let me first thank Justice for All – Prison Fellowship Ethiopia for inviting me to deliver my remarks at this event. Norway has been supporting the important work of Justice for All since 2012 – and I am very pleased to see how their work is generating concrete results aimed at strengthening the rule of law, human rights, and justice service delivery in Ethiopia.
Human rights is a key priority in Norway’s foreign and development policy. Within this field, we have three priorities: Individual freedom and public participation; the rule of law and legal protection; and equality and equal opportunities for all.
I would argue that an effective, professional and independent justice system is a prerequisite for all these objectives. Further, there is little doubt that a competent, efficient and effective prosecution service is a central element to recuring a robust justice sector.
I believe that the work done by Justice for All, in cooperation with international experts as well as representatives from the federal and regional prosecution services in Ethiopia, represents a major contribution towards this end.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today’s presentation of the prosecution guidelines carries with it large responsibilities as well as concrete tasks for the Ethiopian prosecution services. At the same time, this event reminds us of something bigger, something that stretches beyond these very guidelines. This event, and the overall objective of Justice for All, is about Rule of Law. It is about how Rule of Law provides the framework for the social contract - the relationship between a State and its citizens. It is about how Rule of Law guides and determines the room for maneuver for State actors, even when faced with citizens who have disregarded the very rules and regulations put in place by the State. It is about the protection of vulnerable individuals vis-à-vis the actor with the monopoly of power.
To me, what this event should remind us of, is the equality before the law, the supremacy of law, and accountability to the law. These principles are
of fundamental importance to any State, at any stage of development or democratization.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Just as rule of law is a prerequisite for democracy, it is also an outcome of and an enabler of development. It is this realization that underpins Sustainable Development Goal number 16, which relates to peace, justice and strong institutions. This goal, formulated and agreed upon by all members of the United Nations, states that “without peace, stability, human rights and effective governance, based on the rule of law – we cannot hope for sustainable development”. The goals applies to all nations, including Ethiopia and Norway, and shall be achieved by 2030. It is an ambitious goal, but equally important and indispensable for the global development agenda.
Certainly, where rule of law is absent, injustice, conflict and other obstacles to development will take root. Conversely, when all rights holders – including the poorest and the most marginalized - are able to secure their rights and have access to greater opportunities and choices, development may flourish. The same is true for the relationship between rule of law and gender equality. A well-developed justice system enables women to seek redress when their rights are violated, and to rely on this system to enforce and implement their rights and freedoms as enshrined in international and national law.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me conclude by stating my appreciation for the results achieved through the efforts of Justice for All. However, I would assume you all agree that achieving exactly this – justice for all – is no easy task. There is no quick fix to securing all human rights for all human beings. In order to achieve concrete results and improvement, constant commitment is required.
That being said, I do sense commitment in this room. I hope these guidelines will be a useful tool for the prosecution services in executing their important mandate.
Thank you very much.