The Ethiopian Legal framework in regard to the environmental issues

The Ethiopian Legal framework in regard to environmental protection: In the federal democratic republic of Ethiopia the supreme law of the land is the constitution. Currently the country has a constitution which is enacted in 1991, in light of the world minimum standards to human and democratic rights. Under part two of the constitution which states the democratic rights of the people, we clearly find about the issue of environment. Article 44 of the constitution reads as follows: Article 44 Environmental Rights 1. All persons have the right to a clean and healthy environment. 2. All persons who have been displaced or whose livelihoods have been adversely affected as a result of state programmes have the right to commensurate monetary or alternative means of compensation, including relocation with adequate state assistance. These constitutional rights of the people are put in general terms and can’t clearly explain how the right to have a clean and healthy environment will protect. To implement this general principle the country adopts different policies, regulations and proclamations. In April 1997 the government adopts the Environmental Policy of Ethiopia, and also there are many percolations in this regard. To mention some; Environmental Pollution Control Proclamation, Environmental Impact Assessment Proclamation, Environmental Protection Organs Establishment Proclamation, Bio-safety Proclamation, Biological Diversity Convention Ratification Proclamation e.t.c. This are some of the laws which are currently adopted in Ethiopia in regard to environmental issues, even though there implementation is in question, those laws are articulated in good way. Besides those domestic laws, Ethiopia sign and become part of the international conventions and agreement which focused on environment protection issues. To mention some of ratified international legal instrument by the Ethiopian government in regard to environmental issues includes, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right, Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development [the Brutland Report] , The Bio Declaration on Environment and Development, The First United Nation Conference Environment and Development, The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, The World Charter for Nature, Adopted and Solemnly Proclaimed by the UN General Assembly, Tokyo Declaration on Financing Global Environment and Development e.t.c

Specific Ethiopian Laws which are not implement in effectively;

In Ethiopia there are many well adopted laws and regulations in regard to protection of the environment. The problem comes in putting these laws into ground or implementation. A law which lacks good implementation counts as void at all.

In this part I will try to show some of the laws which lack implementation in the case of Akaki river pollutions. Next to the constitution of the country, Environmental Pollution Control proclamation is a law which directly addresses the pollution. This law was enacted by the law making organ of the country, House of People Representative in December 3, 2002. But it lacks implementation in the real ground. I will try to see a few articles from this proclamation. This proclamation define Pollution as “any condition which is hazardous or potentially hazardous to human health, safety, or welfare or to living things creating by altering any physical, radioactive, thermal, chemical, biological or other property of any part of the environment in contravention of any condition, limitation or restriction made under this proclamation or under any other relevant law.” Art.1(12).

Articles 3, of this proclamation prohibit any human or physical person from polluting or causing any other person to pollute the environment by violating the relevant environmental standard. The authority or the government environmental agency have a power to take an administrative or legal measure against a person, in violation of law, release any pollutant to the environment.(article 3(2) of the same proclamation), But for the past few years this violation of the right of the people is observed many times. But the authority, the Addis Ababa City Administration Environment agency are not using he’s power in implementing this law. Even though factories and industries established the wastages in the Akaki River, the agency is not doing any actions which are given by the government. One of the reason for this is many of the industries have economic and governmental power. Which means economically they briber the agency officials as a result the agency try to hide the real facts in the area. When we say government power, the owner of the industries and the factories create a tie with the higher officials and ministers. This will give them the power to act carelessly and release their wastages and chemicals to the river. If any employees of the agency try to implement the law will be called by the higher officials and gave a warning. This shows how the law implementer failed to implement what clearly the law says.

According to this proclamation any human or physical person engaged in any field of activity which is likely which is to cause pollution or any other environmental hazard shall, when the authority or the relevant regional environmental agency so decides, to required minimum requirement and standard, when the generation of waste and, when feasible, apply methods for the recycling of waste. And the government environment agency has the duty to control this.( Article 4, the same proclamation). But the agency is not control as it is supposed to do by the law. As a result many people’s lives are affected by the pollution. The other important article in this proclamation explains the duty of urban administrations. It reads as follows;

                               Management of Municipal Waste

All urban administration shall ensure the collection, transportation, and, as appropriate, the recycling, treatment or safe disposal of municipal waste through the institution of an integrated municipal waste management system.

Surprisingly one of the main polluter of the Akaki River comes from the residents of the Addis Ababa, which are the nearest biggest city and the capital city of Ethiopia. Currently the stream of most of the akaki river is included as part of the city. But the city municipal is not respecting the obligation given by the law. If the municipal of Addis Ababa take measures there is a high level of increase of the pollution of the Akaki River. This article is one of the articles which show failure in the implementation of the law.

The other law which is directly relevant to the environmental issue is Environmental Impact Assessment Proclamation, Proclamation No. 299/2002, which is enacted by the highest lawmaking body, House of People Representative in December 2002. This law has interesting and good articles in it, but lack good implementation. Let’s see some of the articles which failed in implementation.

This law defines ‘Environmental Impact Assessment’ as the methodology of identifying and evaluating in advance any effect, be it positive or negative, which results from the implementation of a proposed project.

According to Article 7 of this proclamation any organization, company or person, or a proponent has a duty to undertake an environmental impact assessment, identify the likely adverse impacts of his project, incorporated the means of their prevention or containment, and submit to the authority or the regional environmental agency the environmental impact study report together with the documents determined as necessary by the authority or the relevant regional agency.  the authority also has a duty to check the fulfillment of all situation before the approval of the impact assessment and also to keep controlling the situation, but the authority is observed in failing to achieve this goal and fail not to control this duty of the company or person.

The agency fails to monitor and evaluate the implementation of an authorized project in compliance with the law and the commitment. As a result the project built around the Akaki River has numerous impacts on the river and the community.

This is some showcase laws of the country, which is articulated well, but failed to implement.