Ethiopia: Recognise Indigenous Communities' Land Rights

Indigenous communities in Ethiopia are being forced from their land following government plans for state-run sugar plantations.


The indigenous communities are being forced from their homes by security forces using violence and intimidation, according to Human Rights Watch. These people have not been adequately consulted or compensated by the government for this action; “Ethiopia’s ambitious plans for the Omo valley appear to ignore the rights of the people who live there,” (Ben Rawlence, HRW). This action contravenes domestic and international rights which grant the property rights to indigenous people for land which they have historically occupied.


These rights must be recognised by the state and residents should only be displaced following prior and informed consent and with adequate compensation.


Read the report and see the video.


Please sign and share our petition to defend the rights of one of the most remote and culturally diverse areas on the planet. Your help is greatly needed.

We, the undersigned, are calling for an immediate halt to the forced relocation of indigenous communities from the Omo Valley region. We believe that it is unjust to evict these people who, according to domestic and international laws have the rights to land which they historically have inhabited. Firstly, their rights to these lands should be recognized by your government. Secondly, the correct procedures must be carried out before anyone is forced from their home. This includes obtaining free, prior and informed consent from those occupying the area as well as an appropriate compensation given to them by the government. Furthermore we support the calls by Human Rights Watch for you to:

  • Discipline or prosecute government or military officials, regardless of position, implicated in human rights violations in the Lower Omo.

  • Promptly enforce the rights under international law and the Ethiopian constitution of the Lower Omo’s indigenous population by:

    • Recognizing the Lower Omo communities as distinct indigenous communities with inalienable rights to their lands and recognizing their property rights over land traditionally occupied and used;

    • Implementing a land tenure registration system that increases land tenure security, particularly for pastoralists, and including communal and/or grazing areas;

    • Protecting local people from expropriation; and,

    • Implementing genuine consultation and compensation procedures.

  • Engage in meaningful dialogue with indigenous groups on alternative livelihood opportunities, in partnership with international nongovernmental organizations and the donor community, prior to further industrial development in the Lower Omo. These strategies should strive to find a balance between respecting the traditional way of life of indigenous communities and the duty to respect their free, prior, and informed consent, while allowing the government of Ethiopia to meet its own development goals for the area.


Thank you for your attention. 

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