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News: Ethiopia passes new bill on protection of government classified information

he Council of Ministers in its 22nd regular meeting today. Photo: PMO

Addis Abeba – Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, passed a new draft bill to regulate the management and use of classified government information, the rights and obligations of various government institutions, government officials and employees, as well as the parties to whom the information is accessible in different ways.

The Council in its 22nd regular meeting held today has also approved three other draft bills, according to the official readout.

Accordingly, the draft bill is submitted to the Council on the need to “clearly define classified government information” and state provisions to regulate the use of such information, including the rights and obligations of government institutions and that of third parties whom such information is made accessible to in different ways. “Due to the lack of a system in place to exchange classified information by electronic means, government leaders and employees at all levels use unsecured information exchange technologies by their own choice,” the readout explained the need for the new bill which seeks “to prevent the security and sovereignty of the country from being exposed to dangers.”

The draft bill is therefore prepared and presented to the council in order to “establish a transparent and accountable operating system” for classifying confidential government information and “to ensure that the information is not revealed, lost, altered or transmitted illegally.”

However, the readout released through the office of the Prime Minister doesn’t say if the Council referred the bill to pass through the customary regulatory channel of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) before approval. Instead it said that “after extensive discussion on the draft regulation, the Council unanimously decided to make it effective from the day it is published in the Negarit Newspaper.”

Security and information technology products certification and control bill which seeks to “prevent and control the negative impacts of information technology products entering and leaving the country”; “allowing citizens to have sufficient understanding of the negative impacts that information technology products that are not properly controlled can have on the country’s security”, and “clearly stipulating the rights and obligations,” as well as take “appropriate and proportionate measures to the actions that pose threats.”

A draft bill on the Ethiopian Capital Market Authority Staff Management Draft Regulation, as well as for the establishment of Ethio-Biopharma Group and Shieldvax Enterprise are the third and fourth draft bills approved by the Council today.

Accordingly, the draft bill providing the rights for Ethio-Biopharma Group to produce human and animal vaccines, medicines, medical facilities and equipment, as well as related products in Ethiopia in order to reduce foreign currency costs and make the products accessible to neighboring countries, and a draft bill to allow Shieldvax Enterprise, a company owned and managed by Ethio-Biopharma Group, to produce vaccines and related products focused only on human health, and supplying them to the local and foreign markets, as well as engage in knowledge and technology transfer activities have been unanimously approved by the Council to be effective from the day they were published in the Negarit Newspaper.” AS

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