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Thursday, 31 December 2015 12:02

2007 Legislation Review

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The past Ethiopian year was the final year of the fourth term of the House of Peoples’ Representatives of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. In this year, over 40 Proclamations were enacted by the House including ratification of bilateral treaties and multilateral conventions. Below, we have summarized six of the Proclamations which we believe were some of the most notable to be enacted by the House in the Ethiopian year 2007.

Proclamation No. 867/2014 Government Bonds Transacted in International Capital Markets Proclamation

The first proclamation enacted in the past Ethiopian year was the Government Bonds Transacted in International Capital Markets Proclamation. The Proclamation authorized the minister of Finance and Economic Development to issue Government Bonds on behalf of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The minister was authorized to borrow in aggregate, up to two billion United States Dollars in principal amounts. The minister was also authorized to determine the issue date and agree with lenders on the maturity dates, dates of repayment and rates of interest. All transactions and documents under the Proclamation are exempt from stamp duties or other taxes in Ethiopia.

This Proclamation enabled the Government of Ethiopia to issue sovereign bonds in international capital markets. Ethiopia listed one billion United Sates Dollars of sovereign bond with a maturity date of 10 years and interest rate fixed at 6.625 per cent on the Main Securities Market (MSM) of the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE) in December 2014 after Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings gave it ratings of B1, B and B, respectively. 

Proclamation No. 872/2014 Copyright and Neighboring Rights Protection (Amendment) Proclamation 

The Copyright and Neighboring Rights Protection Proclamation No. 410 of 2004 was amended after a decade by Proclamation No. 872/2014. The amendment proclamation introduces a number of changes in the copyright and neighboring rights regime of the country, of which the most notable is the framework for the establishment of collective management societies which enables the collective administration of the rights of members. 

Collective management societies may be established by right holders whose works are protected under the Proclamation and must be recognized by the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office. A collective management society is established for a non-profit purpose and must establish at least three sector associations within it. Upon recognition by the EIPO, a society has the power to collect royalties from users of works that are protected under Ethiopian law as well as works that are protected abroad. 

Collective management societies are also empowered to grant permits to foreign musical bands or performing groups for entry of their works for public performance as well as foreign exhibitors of fine arts. Collective management societies are tasked to prepare, submit to the EIPO and upon approval, implement royalty schemes based on the type of works and the category of users. The Proclamation also regulates the operations of collective management societies, including provisions governing the budget, book of accounts and revocation of licenses of societies.

Other important amendments which are part of the Proclamation include the introduction of fines ranging from Birr 25,000 to Birr 50,000 in cases of intentional violations and from Birr 5,000 to Birr 25,000 in cases of gross negligence where a person is convicted for violating rights protected under the Proclamation.

The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office is now vested with the power to adjudicate civil cases arising in relation to the Proclamation, except cases related to extra-contractual liability. The Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority has also been empowered to take border measures based on its own initiative, where it believes that goods entering the country infringe the rights of its owners.

Proclamation No. 881/2015 Corruption Crimes Proclamation 

The Corruption Crimes Proclamation is one of three proclamations that were enacted in the past year. The Proclamation addresses corruption offences separately from the general criminal law and repeals certain provisions of the Criminal Code related to corruption offences and replaces them with updated provisions. 

A new feature in this proclamation is its applicability to “public organizations”, which are defined as organs in the private sector which, in whatever way, administer money, property or any other resource collected from members of the public or any money collected for the benefit of the public which includes companies, where appropriate. However, religious organizations, political parties, international organizations and edir or other similar traditional or religious associations are not included under the designation “public organizations”

In addition to providing general principles applicable to corruption crimes, the Proclamation also lists down the following acts with their respective punishments.

 

  • Abuse of Power or Responsibility
  • Bribery
  • Acceptance of Undue Advantage
  • Corruption Committed by Arbitrator and Other Persons
  • Maladministration of Government or Public Enterprise Work
  • Unlawful Disposal of Object in Charge
  • Appropriation and Misappropriation in the discharge of duties
  • Traffic in official Power or Responsibility
  • Illegal Collection or Disbursement
  • Undue Delay of Matters
  • Taking Things of Value Without or with inadequate Consideration
  • Granting or Approving License Improperly
  • Possession of Unexplained Property
  • Breaches of Official Secrecy
  • Material Forgery of Official or Public Organization Documents or Using Forged Document
  • Suppression if Official or Organizational Documents
  • Giving Bribe or Undue Advantage
  • Giving Things of Value Without or with Inadequate Consideration
  • Facilitating Act of Bribery
  • Use of Pretended Authority
  • Traffic in Private Influence
  • Corrupt Electoral Practices
  • Aggravated Breach of Trust
  • Aggravated Fraudulent Misrepresentation

 

Proclamation No. 882/2015 The Revised Anti-Corruption Special Procedure and Rules of Evidence (Amendment)

Proclamation No. 882/2015 amended the Revised Anti-Corruption Special Procedure and Rules of Evidence Proclamation No. 434/2005. The Proclamation and its amendment prescribe the special procedures and rules of evidence which are applicable to all corruption cases falling under Federal and Regional jurisdictions. The principal objectives of the amendment are the inclusion of public organizations as discussed above, ensuring the speedy and effective gathering of information, investigation, prosecution and hearing of corruption offences and the injunction and retrieval of property obtained from corruption offences.

The Proclamation lays heavy emphasis on bolstering the framework of restraining and confiscating property acquired through the commission of a criminal offence. It introduces a number of changes in this regard including the conditions for restraining property, the government’s option of recovering property or claiming damage through civil action and the amount of property to be recovered and the manner of its return to the government.

The Proclamation also includes new provisions in respect of the protection of whistleblowers from reprisal measures, enforcement of fines against those convicted of corruption offences, manner of lifting immunities of members of House of Peoples’ Representatives or State Councils, and the relationship between Federal and Regional Anti-Corruption Commissions through a joint forum. 

Proclamation No. 883/2015 Revised Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Establishment Proclamation (Amendment)

The amendment proclamation to the Revised Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Establishment Proclamation No. 433 of 2005 extends the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigative and prosecution duties to highly strategic public organizations and public organizations working in more than state, as discussed above.

The Proclamation also empowers the Commission to withdraw corruption investigations and charges as well as pending corruption cases by ensuring the forfeiture of the advantages obtained from the crime in accordance with a regulation to be enacted. 

Proclamation No. 886/2015 Industrial Park Proclamation

The Industrial Park Proclamation was enacted in the past year with the objectives of encouraging the participation of the private sector in the manufacturing sector, the development of the country’s technological and industrial infrastructure and the creation of ample job opportunities, among others.

The Proclamation provides a detailed definition of the term “industrial park” as “an area with distinct boundary designated by the appropriate organ to develop comprehensive, integrated, multiple or selected functions of industries, based on a planned fulfillment of infrastructure and various services such as road, electric power and water, one stop shop and have incentive schemes with a broad view to achieving planned and systematic development of industries, mitigation of impacts of pollution on environment and human being and development of urban centers, and includes special economic zones, technology parks, export processing zones, agro processing zone, free trade zones and the like designated by the Investment Board”.

Generally, there are three main actors in the development and operation of industrial parks. These are the industrial park developers (developers), industrial park operators (operators) and the industrial park enterprises (enterprises). The Proclamation regulates the designation, development and operation of industrial parks and provides the respective rights and obligations of developers, operators, and enterprises. The Proclamation also provides the guarantees, protection and treatment that industrial park investors and their investments are entitled to. It also provides for the mechanism of acquisition and transfer of industrial park land and the applicability of building norms, environmental regulations, one-stop-shop services and labor regulations, including the employment of expatriates.

Finally, the Proclamation also provides the regulatory framework and grievance handling procedures with respect to industry park investment. The respective duties, roles and powers of the Investment Board, the Ethiopian Investment Commission as well as the Ministry of Industry are provided under the Proclamation. 

 

On a related note, the Industrial Parks Development Corporation was established as a public enterprise by virtue of Regulation No. 326/2014 to undertake activities in the development, promotion and administration of industrial parks. 

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Michael Tekie

Michael Tekie is a graduate of Addis Ababa University's School of Law (Class of 2015), with Distinction. During his stay at University, he was actively engaged in moot court competitions, representing his School in several national and international moots. He joined MLA first as an intern and then as a Junior Associate in July 2015. Michael works on corporate issues and is passionate about competition law and finance.

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Mehrteab Leul & Associates is a member of DLA Piper Africa Group, an alliance of leading independent law firms working together in association with DLA Piper, both internationally and across Africa.

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