Ethiopian Laws Stifle Human Rights Efforts

March 22, 2012 Posted by The Law Firm for Non-Profits, P.C. in News

When working in foreign countries, it’s not just US laws that charities have to follow, they also must be cognizant of local laws. Human-rights organizations working in Ethiopia just learned that the hard way.

Ethiopia banned charities from working on human-rights issues in the country if they received more than 10% of their funding from abroad. The Ethiopian government also mandated that charities spend no more than 30% of their revenue on administrative costs. These laws are having a devastating effect on human-rights efforts.

According to Bloomberg, the Ethiopian government reasoned that it is the role of the state, not foreign-backed groups, to protect human and democratic rights of Ethiopians.

Amnesty International reported that many human-rights defenders fled Ethiopia as soon as the law was passed. But of those who stayed, many had to shift their focus to non-human rights issues or scale down their activities. Many, including the Human Rights Council, had foreign funds frozen by the Ethiopian government.

This is a good reminder for charities to ensure that they are aware of and understand both U.S. and foreign law before taking operations abroad. If you don’t know the rules, contact a trusted advisor who has expertise in international philanthropy.

NOTE: The information contained herein is not intended to be legal advice and the reader should know that no Attorney-Client relationship or privilege is formed by the posting or reading of this article which is also not intended to solicit business.

Casey Summar, Partner, The Law Firm for Non-Profits,1812 W Burbank Blvd, #7445, Burbank, CA 91506

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