Practice Relating to Rule 31. Humanitarian Relief Personnel
Under Ethiopia’s Penal Code (1957), anyone who “indulges in hostile acts against or threats or insults to persons belonging to the International Red Cross or to corresponding humanitarian relief organizations (the Red Crescent, the Red Lion and Sun) or to the representatives of those organizations” commits a punishable offence.
Ethiopia’s Criminal Code (2004) states:
Article 281.- Hostile Acts against International Humanitarian Organizations.
(1) Whoever intentionally and in time of peace:
(a) indulges in hostile acts against or threats or insults to persons belonging to the International Red Cross or Red Crescent or to corresponding humanitarian relief organizations or to the representatives of those organizations or to persons placed under their protection …
is punishable with simple imprisonment, or, in cases of exceptional gravity, with rigorous imprisonment not exceeding five years.
(2) Where the crime is committed in time of war, the punishment shall be rigorous imprisonment from one year to five years.
The Criminal Code of 2004 repealed Ethiopia’s Penal Code of 1957.
According to the Report on the Practice of Ethiopia, NGOs operating in Ethiopia have reported being harassed.
In addition, it has been reported that “the Ethiopian air force had bombed relief convoys” and that “the EPLF [Eritrean People’s Liberation Front], too, attacked food convoys, claiming that the regime was using them to ship weapons to its troops”.
At the First Periodical Meeting on International Humanitarian Law in 1998, the representative of Ethiopia “deplored and condemned” attacks against relief workers.