Friday, September 7, 2012

Ethiopia farmer threatens lawsuit against UK over rights abuses

Ethiopia farmer threatens lawsuit against UK over rights abuses

 | 7 September 2012 | 0 Comments

An Ethiopian farmer has claimed UK government responsible for eviction, beating and rapes in funding project.
ADDIS ABABA: The United Kingdom could face a lawsuit from an Ethiopia farmer after he argued that a British fund led to widespread human rights abuses in the East African country.
According to a BBC report, the farmer, Mr. O, is accusing the British government of responsibility in his eviction and beating as well as having witnessed rapes as part of a “villagization” scheme put forward by the UK government.
Human rights activists Rita Desalgna told in Addis Ababa that the farmer’s accusations have been reportedly corroborated by other residents in the area.
“We have heard and talked to a number of individuals who have reported rape and other violent actions as a result of this program, but it is still unclear if the British government is responsible for the actions of their Ethiopian partners,” she said.
The BBC report said that the farmer’s lawyers say the program “receives funding from the UK Department for International Development (Dfid).”
However, Dfid denied the accusations, saying it does not fund “any commune projects” in the country.
UK aid to Ethiopia is among the East African country’s largest, with the foreign ministry reporting having sent $61 million for the country’s drought problems in the past decade.
“The UK government has been extremely positive in its efforts to assist Ethiopia so I would be surprised if they had any knowledge of the violence and evictions,” added Desalgna.
But the married farmer, a father of 6, told his lawyers from London’s Leigh Day and Co that his family was forced off their land in November 2011 after soldiers from the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) came to the area for the eviction.
His lawyers said he claimed that “several men were beaten, women were raped and some people disappeared” during the resettlement.

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