By Phillip Barea
Addis Ababa, February 18, 2011 (Ezega.com) -- In an exercise of authority based on the new civil society and charity law, the Ethiopian Charities and Societies Agency confirmed the closure of five civil society organizations (CSOs) in the past six months due to legal violations and misconduct.
Ali Siraj, Director of the Societies and Charities Agency of Ethiopia, presented this report during a press briefing in his office on February 17. He also included in his report, aside from the licence revocations, a statement regarding the replacement of managers from two CSOs for embezzlement and misappropriation of their organization´s funds.
Although the civil society and charity law was passed last year amidst criticism and some international condemnation, Mr. Siraj assured the press that since that time around 400 new organizations have been registered with the agency. Furthermore, the recent CSO closures are reasonable and measured from that perspective.
Targeted Civil Society Organizations
The license of “Samaritan’s Purse” was revoked because the organization brought 14 foreign workers into Ethiopia and employed them for three years without work permits or residence permits. Therefore, the employees did not pay over 7 million Ethiopian Birr ($420,000 USD) in taxes to the country.
“Mobility Without Barriers”lost its licence because it was found that the chief representative of the organization was engaged in other businesses that made over $50,000 USD. Moreover, the organization withdrew monies from the country that were intended for local use, illegally transferred equipment to other organizations, and dismissed employees in ways that violate local labour laws.
The license of “Better Future” was cancelled for engaging in illegal child trafficking, and preparing fake documentation for many of the children it brought from across the country to Addis Ababa. “Better Future” is also accused of paying local parents to abandon their children, and then dressing them like street children in order to falsify their circumstances.
“International Islamic Relief Organization” had its license revoked because it hasn’t been able to fulfil all the requirements for renewing its license as prescribed in the civil society and charity law.
The license of “Coalition for Action Against Poverty” was cancelled after its chief administrator was found to be using the monies collected in the name of the charity for personal gain.
Phillip Barea is Addis Ababa based reporter for Ezega.com. He can be reached by sending email through this form.