Julie spoke on the 20th May 2015 about the elections in Ethiopia and the duty the EU has to show the country.
I have been working with civil society groups from Ogaden in Ethiopia, and it was important for me to speak out on the situation there, as there has been no level playing field for opposition voices.
Ethiopia had elections in May 2015, without any EU Election Observation Mission and this happened while the government was cracking down on journalists and civil society, persecuted the Ogaden, Oromo and other ethnic groups and targeted women and children.
Rape and torture have systematically been used to spread fear, and the Ogaden region is effectively under government embargo.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia is the fourth largest recipient of EU aid and receives 45% of its budget through foreign aid.
So the EU must make a clear public statement outlining its concerns about the upcoming elections before May 24th, making clear its commitment to human rights and democracy in solidarity with the people of Ethiopia. It must also ensure that EU aid money is not being used or implicated in ethnic persecution and human rights violations. A more secure and peaceful Ethiopia must not come at the price of human rights abuses or sham elections with no healthy opposition.
I hope that the Commission will do all in its power to improve any oversight of its funding, will call for investigation of human rights abuses, and send out a strong message that it will not tolerate or condone these gross violations of basic human dignity.
Watch Julie give this speech in Strasbourg here.
The EU released a statement on the situation in Ethiopia on the 27th May 2015, as can be read here.