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News: Daniel Bekele departs Ethiopia Rights Commission as chief commissioner

Addis Abeba – Daniel Bekele (PhD) has departed from his position as Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, according to state media reports.

Speaker of Parliament Tagesse Chafo bids farewell to Daniel Bekele (PhD), Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on account of the “completion of his tenure.” 

Daniel assumed the role of Chief Commissioner on June 25, 2019, following his appointment by PM Abiy Ahmed. Days later his appointment was approved by the House of People’s Representatives.

During his tenure, which lasted approximately five years, the Commission published several reports examining human rights issues in Ethiopia.

One of the recent publications under Daniel’s leadership was a 130-page National Inquiry report which exposed systemic rights violations against individuals deprived of liberty in three regional states and the area formerly known as the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) from 2018 to 2023. The report characterized these violations as “systemic,” indicating patterns that affected a significant portion of the population.

The work of the Commission under Daniel’s guidance has not been without debate. In November 2023, the federal government accused Daniel’s commission of releasing a report that failed to take into consideration the existing “context and reality”, following a report detailing the presence of widespread human rights violations in the crisis-hit Amhara region.

Covering broader human rights issues, during a parliament session on Thursday, PM Abiy stated that the concept of human rights is being used for political purposes. He emphasized that human rights institutions should be independent from both the the government and other forces, noting that they are currently free from government influence.

A lawyer and human rights advocate with experience as Africa Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), Daniel holds a doctorate in international law from Oxford University, along with master’s degrees in international law and human rights from Oxford, and in social and environmental development from Addis Abeba University.

Active in civic organizations during Ethiopia’s 2005 contested elections, his appointment to the state’s human rights commission was hailed as a step in the right direction. AS

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