The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein began his second official visit to Ethiopia as of Sunday, April 22, “at the invitation of the Government”, his office said in a statement. “During his visit, he will also take part in a high-level dialogue between the African Union and the UN Human Rights Office.”
High Commissioner Zeid last visited Ethiopia in May 2017, when he met the then Prime Minister, [Hailemariam Desalegn], and other high-ranking Ethiopian officials and civil society members to discuss the human rights situation in the country and the work of the UN Human Rights East Africa Regional Office.
“The Government of Ethiopia earlier this year invited Zeid to conduct a follow-up visit to the country,” according to Zeid’s office.
“During his four-day visit, Zeid is due to meet with the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as well as other high-level officials, the Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives and the Chairperson of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, representatives of civil society and Government critics who have recently been released from prison.”
Ethiopia is currently a member of both the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council. However, since 2007, the government consistently denied access to all UN special rapporteurs as well as the African Commission and European parliament for investigations into pervasive human rights abuse committed by the state.
In August 2016 Zeid himself urged Ethiopian authorities to allow international observers to conduct independent investigations into then ongoing killings of protesters by security forces. It is not clear if the government’s invitation of High Commissioner Zeid signals a change in approach.
In addition to meeting with Ethiopian officials, on Tuesday, April 24, “Zeid will deliver opening remarks and participate in the African Union-United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Human Rights,” the statement from his office further said.
AU Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and Zeid will also conduct a joint press briefing at the end of the dialogue. On the same day, he is expected to “deliver a lecture at Addis Abeba University.”