The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the East African Regional Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (EARO-OHCHR) and the International Centre on Transitional Justice (ICTJ), organised the Second Peer-to-Peer Learning Workshop on Transitional Justice for Victims/Survivors’ Associations in Ethiopia, from March 18 to 20 2024. The participants were members of victims/survivors’ associations which were formally or informally established in different regions of Ethiopia. The first workshop with the associations was organised from October 10 to 11, 2023.

The objective of the second workshop was to raise awareness among associations regarding the draft transitional justice policy and facilitate discussions on their role in its implementation. The workshop also intended to enhance their capacity by offering technical advice on the requirements and process of registering associations in Ethiopia particularly to aid the informal associations, as well as practical sessions on how to develop project proposals and secure funding. Additionally, the workshop aimed to further strengthen collaboration and experience-sharing among the associations as well as with victims’ associations in other countries particularly in The Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire.

Mebratu Gebeyehu, Senior Director, Program and Partnership Department, EHRC (middle)

The three-day programme featured an interactive approach, with practical capacity building sessions delivered by experts, peer-to-peer learning of participants, and hands-on self-care and wellness approaches in view of the emotional and psychological needs of victims throughout the transitional justice journey. Respecting one another’s experience and maintaining a safe and friendly environment for all was a guiding approach in the workshop.

A representative of the Ministry of Justice briefed participants on the draft transitional justice policy and engaged in discussions, after which the associations brainstormed on the potential role of victims’ associations during the policy’s implementation. The workshop also included sessions with the Authority for Civil Society Organizations (ACSO) on the legal status of associations and how to register those not yet registered, as well as a working session on project proposal writing and identification of sources of funding.

EHRC Commissioner for Women, Children, Older Persons and Disability Rights Rigbe Gebrehawaria

Similarly, the associations shared updates on their key activities since the first workshop, including their engagement in awareness raising initiatives among their members, advocacy, documentation of human rights violations, support to victims and applying for grants. The associations also highlighted areas they wish to further engage on, their challenges and the support they require. The victims’ associations committed to continue their engagement in the transitional justice process and to speak their truth but underscored the importance of genuine political commitment to have a credible transitional justice process in Ethiopia. In her remarks, the EHRC Commissioner for Women, Children, Older Persons and Disability Rights Rigbe Gebrehawaria emphasised the critical role of victims in the transitional justice process. She stressed that “it is necessary to stand in solidarity with victims, to listen to their stories, emphatise with their lived experiences, and ensure that their aspirations and needs are reflected in the transitional justice process.”