Silencing the Ethiopian Courts: Non-Judicial Constitutional Review and its Impact on Human Rights
Part I traces the evolution of Ethiopia's constitutional human rights guarantees in each of the country's constitutional manifestations from the period of Emperor Haile Selassie's reign to the present. Part II explores the status of fundamental rights and freedoms in Ethiopia's 1995 FDRE Constitution. Part III describes the players and processes of Ethiopia's complex system of non-judicial constitutional review, including the dominant role played by the HOF and Council of Constitutional Inquiry and the marginalized role of the courts. Part IV presents a comparative analysis of countries engaged in non-judicial constitutional review, including China, the former Soviet Union, and Finland. Part V explores the practical implications of non-judicial constitutional review on the enforcement of human rights in Ethiopia. It argues that the HOF lacks independence from the executive and thus cannot be trusted to adjudicate sensitive political matters involving the Constitution in an unbiased manner. This Part also argues that Ethiopia's system of non-judicial constitutional review weakens the judiciary's power to check the constitutional excesses of the other branches of government; may fail to protect the rights of minority groups in constitutional disputes due to the majoritarian make-up of the House of Federation; and perpetuates an inefficient system that precludes access to justice. Part VI calls for constitutional and judicial reforms that will result in an independent, organized, and efficient system of judicial review in Ethiopia.