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Exclusive: US Lawmaker suggests Magnitsky Act on Ethiopia’s Rights abusers

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U S Congressman Mike Coffman

by Teshome Borago

In an exclusive interview with the ZeHabesha and  Satenaw  Media Group, US Congressman By Mike Coffman suggested President Trump Adminstration should consider applying the Magnitsky Act on the TPLF ruling party accused of serious human rights violations in Ethiopia. The Magnitsky Act is designed to impose travel ban and sanctions on the economic interests of government officials involved in human rights abuse and systematic corruption.

US Representative Mike Coffman was responding to questions on H.Res 128, which was adopted by Congress last week to hold the Ethiopian military accountable for the ongoing mass killings and illegal detention of dissidents in Ethiopia. Since 2015, the Oromia and Amhara regions of the country have witnessed massive peaceful protests ending with brutal government crackdown, including shooting of women and children.

Regarding the recent killings last week that occurred after the new Prime Minister  Dr. Abiy Ahmed was sworn in, the Congressman said he does not believe there will be change because “it is not a new government.” Coffman said that changing around symbolic prime ministers at the top in Ethiopia is useless unless the whole ruling party is replaced.

An Oromo police officer and a pregnant mother was among those recently killed by TPLF federal forces.

It is still the same group…it is still the same ruling coalition. So I don’t think we should give them much time at all,” Coffman said.

I think the Magnitsky Act is very important to apply in Ethiopia,” the Congressman added. In his interview, Coffman described the various challenges he faced during the debate on H. Res. 128. He also stated that reforms in US policy on foreign aid for Ethiopia will be necessary, as another form of pressure on the TPLF ruling party.

The Magnitsky Act was originally created in 2012 to punish corrupt Russian officials, however, the Trump US Adminstration changed the rule in December 2017, to make it applicable to all governments worldwide. When fully implemented, the Magnitsky Act will withhold visas and freeze financial assets of government officials involved in rights abuses, “misappropriation of state assets” and “extraction of natural resources,” among other crimes.

Teshome Borago

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