The Department for International Development said the project was cancelled
because it did not represent “value for money” and because of “risk” in
getting it delivered on time.
It insisted that the cancellation of the project was entirely unrelated to
allegations of human rights abuses, and said the decision pre-dated the
Amnesty International report.
However, earlier this year an internal government assessment of the programme
warned it posed a “high” risk to human rights, upgrading it from medium.
The document noted that the Government of Ethiopia appeared reluctant to
improve the human rights situation. “The underlying assumption of GoE’s
commitment to reform in the security sector is sensitive and subject to a
range of factors (e.g. terrorist attacks inside Ethiopia). In light of this,
we propose elevating the risk to ‘high’.”
It also warned that work had been “poor quality” with “weak value for money”.
There were “tensions” between British aid workers and the Government of
Ethiopia, with Ethiopian civil servants complaining over being “overwhelmed”
by paperwork. Work fell behind the timetable.
The document, an annual assessment of the scheme, was subsequently deleted
from the website.
DfID said the document was deleted because the programme had changed. The
decision to axe the programme went unannounced before inquiries from this
newspaper, despite mounting concern at the deteriorating situation in the
A DfID spokesman said: “DFID has suspended major activities under the
Community Safety and Justice programme because of concerns about risk and
value for money. We are updating the website to reflect programme changes.”
One element of the scheme, run by Harvard University in measuring the
effectiveness of justice reforms, will continue to be funded by Britain.
The deletion of the documents was detected by Reprieve, the anti-death penalty
charity which is campaigning for Mr Tsege’s release.
“While MrTsege is held in a secret prison in Ethiopia under sentence of
death, Dfid has inexplicably scrubbed alltraces of this funding from its
website,” said Maya Foa, the head of the death penalty team. “The
Government should be using its extensive influence in Ethiopia to ensure the
safety of one of its nationals, not aiding the very forces responsible for
his detention – then removing the evidence.”
A blistering report on Thursday warned that British aid money is fuelling
corruption overseas. One development project in Nepal encouraged people to
forge documents to gain grants while police stations in Nigeria linked to
British aid were increasingly demanding bribes, the Independent Commission
on Aid Impact found.