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National human rights institutions and access to justice: the role and practice of the human rights commission of Ethiopia in advancing access to justice

Mohammed Abdo (UGent)
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Abstract
National human rights institutions (NHRIs) are quasi-judicial bodies set up specifically for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights. Among their core functions included are the sensitization of and research and debate on human rights, and investigation of complaints involving human rights issues. As part of their mandate, NHRIs should promote and facilitate complainant’s access to rights and remedies, including the ones offered by themselves and remedies that exist elsewhere, such as courts of law. Provision of free legal assistance and dissemination of information on human rights by NHRIs helps the poor to access justice, removing financial and information obstacles hampering them from doing so. Set up in 2000 pursuant to the FDRE Constitution, the Human Rights Commission of Ethiopia has been trying to promote and protect human rights. One of its modest achievements is its attempt to promote human rights through sensitization campaigns and to reach out to the poor via legal aid centres so that such people could access justice. In that regard, the Commission has been undertaking various training and education activities. Also, it has been providing legal counsel and aid to poor litigants despite the fact that the enabling statute makes no explicit mention of such scheme. In the protection realm, the Commission has been investigating complaints lodged to it, helping citizens to get remedies in rather limited cases. In this piece attempt is made to review the Commission’s endeavour in promoting and protecting human rights and thereby cast light on its contribution in advancing access to justice. It examines the Commission’s practice based on promotional as well as protection activities undertaken by the institution since it commenced discharging its function in 2005. Among questions to be investigated in the study included are the following. In the face of the bulk of population that are unaware of the existence and/or the nature of laws and the means to vindicate them and given the fact that there are few effective methods to create and build awareness, or to provide legal services, what measures have been taken by the Commission, as a complementary body, to fill the void? Given the wide-spread problems facing vulnerable groups to access justice in the nation, has the institution tried to reach out to such group? Does it manage to put in place effective strategies that streamline vulnerable group in its operational procedures? The examination of these questions relies on the review of the Commission’s promotional strategies and tools and documents produced for such purpose, investigation of enabling legislation, relevant literature, and interview. Before delving into examining the Commission’s role to enhance access to justice, it is important to offer background information on the establishment process, structure, mandate, and enforcement powers of the institution.
Keywords
NHRIs, Access to justice, promotion of human rights literacy, protection of human rights, legal counsel

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MLA
Abdo, Mohammed. “National Human Rights Institutions and Access to Justice: The Role and Practice of the Human Rights Commission of Ethiopia in Advancing Access to Justice.” Access to Justice in Ethiopia : Towards an Inventory of Issues. Ed. Pietro Toggia, Thomas Geraghty, & Kokebe Jemaneh. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Center for Human Rights, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, 2014. 151–181. Print.
APA
Abdo, M. (2014). National human rights institutions and access to justice: the role and practice of the human rights commission of Ethiopia in advancing access to justice. In P. Toggia, T. Geraghty, & K. Jemaneh (Eds.), Access to justice in Ethiopia : towards an inventory of issues (pp. 151–181). Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Center for Human Rights, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.
Chicago author-date
Abdo, Mohammed. 2014. “National Human Rights Institutions and Access to Justice: The Role and Practice of the Human Rights Commission of Ethiopia in Advancing Access to Justice.” In Access to Justice in Ethiopia : Towards an Inventory of Issues, ed. Pietro Toggia, Thomas Geraghty, and Kokebe Jemaneh, 151–181. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Center for Human Rights, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Abdo, Mohammed. 2014. “National Human Rights Institutions and Access to Justice: The Role and Practice of the Human Rights Commission of Ethiopia in Advancing Access to Justice.” In Access to Justice in Ethiopia : Towards an Inventory of Issues, ed. Pietro Toggia, Thomas Geraghty, and Kokebe Jemaneh, 151–181. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Center for Human Rights, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.
Vancouver
1.
Abdo M. National human rights institutions and access to justice: the role and practice of the human rights commission of Ethiopia in advancing access to justice. In: Toggia P, Geraghty T, Jemaneh K, editors. Access to justice in Ethiopia : towards an inventory of issues. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Center for Human Rights, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia; 2014. p. 151–81.
IEEE
[1]
M. Abdo, “National human rights institutions and access to justice: the role and practice of the human rights commission of Ethiopia in advancing access to justice,” in Access to justice in Ethiopia : towards an inventory of issues, P. Toggia, T. Geraghty, and K. Jemaneh, Eds. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Center for Human Rights, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, 2014, pp. 151–181.
@incollection{5914948,
  abstract     = {{National human rights institutions (NHRIs) are quasi-judicial bodies set up specifically for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights. Among their core functions included are the sensitization of and research and debate on human rights, and investigation of complaints involving human rights issues.
As part of their mandate, NHRIs should promote and facilitate complainant’s access to rights and remedies, including the ones offered by themselves and remedies that exist elsewhere, such as courts of law. Provision of free legal assistance and dissemination of information on human rights by NHRIs helps the poor to access justice, removing financial and information obstacles hampering them from doing so.
Set up in 2000 pursuant to the FDRE Constitution, the Human Rights Commission of Ethiopia has been trying to promote and protect human rights. One of its modest achievements is its attempt to promote human rights through sensitization campaigns and to reach out to the poor via legal aid centres so that such people could access justice. In that regard, the Commission has been undertaking various training and education activities. Also, it has been providing legal counsel and aid to poor litigants despite the fact that the enabling statute makes no explicit mention of such scheme. In the protection realm, the Commission has been investigating complaints lodged to it, helping citizens to get remedies in rather limited cases. 
In this piece attempt is made to review the Commission’s endeavour in promoting and protecting human rights and thereby cast light on its contribution in advancing access to justice. It examines the Commission’s practice based on promotional as well as protection activities undertaken by the institution since it commenced discharging its function in 2005. 
Among questions to be investigated in the study included are the following. In the face of the bulk of population that are unaware of the existence and/or the nature of laws and the means to vindicate them and given the fact that there are few effective methods to create and build awareness, or to provide legal services, what measures have been taken by the Commission, as a complementary body, to fill the void? Given the wide-spread problems facing vulnerable groups to access justice in the nation, has the institution tried to reach out to such group? Does it manage to put in place effective strategies that streamline vulnerable group in its operational procedures?
The examination of these questions relies on the review of the Commission’s promotional strategies and tools and documents produced for such purpose, investigation of enabling legislation, relevant literature, and interview. Before delving into examining the Commission’s role to enhance access to justice, it is important to offer background information on the establishment process, structure, mandate, and enforcement powers of the institution.}},
  author       = {{Abdo, Mohammed}},
  booktitle    = {{Access to justice in Ethiopia : towards an inventory of issues}},
  editor       = {{Toggia, Pietro and Geraghty, Thomas and Jemaneh, Kokebe}},
  isbn         = {{9789994496921}},
  keywords     = {{NHRIs,Access to justice,promotion of human rights literacy,protection of human rights,legal counsel}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  pages        = {{151--181}},
  publisher    = {{Center for Human Rights, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia}},
  series       = {{Access to Justice}},
  title        = {{National human rights institutions and access to justice: the role and practice of the human rights commission of Ethiopia in advancing access to justice}},
  url          = {{http://www.academia.edu/9983525/Petitioning_the_Executive_in_Ethiopia_Trends_Implications_and_Propriety_of_Institutionalizing_Petitioning_in_Toggia_Geraghty_and_Jemaneh_eds_ACCESS_TO_JUSTICE_IN_ETHIOPIA_Towards_an_Inventory_of_Issues}},
  year         = {{2014}},
}