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The Oromo Project is designed to conduct fact-finding interviews in Minnesota about human rights abuses against the Oromo people in Ethiopia with the goal of raising awareness and providing information for advocacy efforts to improve the human rights situation in Ethiopia. The Oromo Project presents The Advocates with the opportunity to bring a human rights issue that directly affects as many as 10,000 ethnic Oromo members of our local community into global discussion by documenting systematic human rights violations.

A fact-finding team of The Advocates staff and volunteer attorneys will conduct interviews in January through April 2005 in the Twin Cities with Oromos who have been subject to human rights violations (many of whom are former clients of The Advocates’ Refugee and Asylum Project), Oromo scholars and community leaders, members of the immigration bar, area religious leaders, and providers of medical and community services to the Oromos. The fact-finding interviews will provide the basis to assess the human rights situation of the Oromos, focusing principally on the time period of year 2000 to the present, against international human rights standards that are binding on Ethiopia. Such standards include (but are not limited to) the rights to personal integrity, liberty and administration of justice, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of association and assembly, freedom of movement, and economic, social and cultural rights. In addition, the Oromo Project will benefit from the collaborative research of a volunteer study group that will focus both on the historical and current conditions affecting the Oromos.

The Oromo Project’s expected outcomes include creation of a report in summer 2005 documenting human rights abuses, presentation of the findings in a community forum, advocacy both locally and internationally to ensure Ethiopia’s compliance with its human rights obligations, and assessment of whether to employ a The Advocates for Human Rights monitoring or fact-finding mission to Ethiopia.