50 MIZAN LAW REVIEW Vol. 7 No.1, September 2013
among political parties3 on range of issues relating to the Ethiopian anti-
terrorism law and its application.
One of the issues raised and debated on was the raisons d'être for
promulgating the proclamation. Among the justifications provided in the
preamble of the law, three were raised and discussed during the debate.
Representatives of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front
(EPRDF), the ruling party, argued that the existence of clear and present danger
of terrorism in Ethiopia coupled with the inadequacy of ordinary laws to deal
with this reality called for special anti-terrorism legislation. Representative of
the Ethiopian Democratic Party, one of the four opposition political parties that
participated in the debate, referred to the obligation of states to pass anti-
terrorism legislation imposed by UN Security Council resolution 1373 (2001),
which was echoed by the representatives of EPRDF, as another justification for
the enactment of the law. According to this view, there is a consensus at the
United Nations level that terrorism is a global challenge as a result of which the
Security Council instructs every state, including Ethiopia, to pass anti-terror
Representatives of the other opposition political parties, on the other hand,
argued that although there have been incidents of terrorist attacks, the threat of
terrorism in Ethiopia has not been to an extent that justifies the special anti-
terror law. They claimed that the anti-terrorism proclamation is passed with a
view to use it as a tool to dismantle political opposition and dissent.
This article investigates the validity of the arguments advanced to justify the
promulgation of the Ethiopian anti-terrorism proclamation: domestic realities—
threat of terrorism and lack of appropriate law to cope with the threat—and
obligation under international instruments.4 The first section examines EPRDF’s
claim that the existence of clear and present danger of terrorism in Ethiopia
justifies the Proclamation. This part evaluates the evidence that EPRDF cited
and relied on, during the debate, to show the existence of clear and present
danger in light of Ethiopia’s reports to UN Security Council Counter Terrorism
Committee (CTC). Sections 2 to 4 examine whether or not the Security Council
resolution 1373 (2001) obliges States to pass laws on domestic terrorism.
3 Five political parties participated in the debate. They are Ethiopian Peoples’
Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party, Ethiopian Democratic
Party, Blue Party, Unity for Democracy and Justice Party, and Ethiopian Federal
Democratic Unity Forum. Members with senior positions represent the parties.
4 Note that this article merely scrutinizes the reasons claimed during the debate as
justifying the enactment of the law. By so doing, it does not assume that these are the
only reasons for passing the law, nor does it explore and evaluate validity of other