Ethiopia’s constitution is one of the world’s generous constitutions in giving rights. It gives ‘the nations, nationalities and peoples the right to self determination to secession.’ So, it is no wonder that it gives the ultimate right for freedom of expression and the right to privacy. However, the question is that ‘are the rights granted on the constitution applicable in reality?’
It is universally true that rights are always granted with restrictions. These restrictions are applied usually for ‘national security issues’ or even to protect the well being of certain society members and also in cases where the right conflicts with other rights. For example, the right for freedom of expression should not exceed the right to privacy and leave individuals in physical and psychological insecurity. In consideration of this, I have been challenging myself to answer the question ‘is Ethiopia over writing constitutional rights for one of these reasons or just to protect the power of its rulers?’
Article 29 of the constitution in its sub article 2, gives the right to ‘everyone’ to express him/herself without interference. “This right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any media of his choice.” On sub article 3/a, it approves the prohibition of any form of censorship; on sub article 3/b, that citizens have the freedom to access information of public interest.
There is also article 26 of the constitution which gives the people the right to privacy. Section 2 of this article reads:
“Everyone has the right to the inviolability of his notes and correspondence including postal letters, and communications made by means of telephone, telecommunications and electronic devices.”
I will forward three major problems to make my point.