In June 2016, Ethiopia’s House of People’s Representatives adopted the Computer Crime Proclamation 2016 (The Proclamation). The Proclamation deals with a host of issues, ranging from illegal access to computer systems (‘hacking’) to disseminating spam and combating child abuse images. However, it also creates a number of new criminal offences which are likely to impact heavily on the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression, and other human rights, including ‘inciting fear’ online, punishable by imprisonment. The law also extends the reach of criminal defamation.
In addition, the law provides for far-reaching investigatory powers, including surveillance by law enforcement agencies. In a country which has, in recent years, seen the imprisonment of bloggers, journalists, and human rights activists in apparent contravention of international human rights law, this creates a serious concern as to the future protection in Ethiopia of the right fo freedom of expression online.
This document analyses its provisions against international human rights law and makes a number of recommendations for reform.