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Researching African Laws Online: Ethiopia

July 19, 2012 by Hanibal Goitom

As a member of the Global Legal Research Center at the Law Library of Congress I cover a number of African countries, and get my share of inquiries on a range of legal issues.  So I thought it would be fun, and hopefully useful, to highlight some electronic sources that I often find valuable when researching African jurisdictions.  Ethiopia, one of the jurisdictions I handle, receives a lot of inquiries, so it seemed like a good place to start.

Doing legal research on African jurisdictions using electronic resources is not exactly a walk in the park.  I can think of a couple of reasons for this.  First, laws of many African countries are not widely accessible in print let alone electronically.  There are of course various exceptions; South Africa and Kenya, among the most accessible jurisdictions in the continent, come to mind.   Second, many legal issues regarding African jurisdictions that are often a subject of inquiry, particularly those having to do with matters of personal status, are entirely or in part controlled by religious and/or customary rites.  These sources of law are not easily accessible, in large part because they tend to be highly fragmented and mostly unwritten (p. 62).

However, the accessibility of the laws of African jurisdictions is changing quickly and for the better.  Ethiopia is a perfect example in this regard.

Before listing good online resources for locating Ethiopian laws, may I suggest a few go-to sources for those who are looking for background information – those who might want answers for questions such as: what kind of government does Ethiopia have? What are the legislative jurisdictions of federal, state and local authorities? Or, what does the court structure in the country look like?  Reading the Ethiopian Constitution may help you answer most of these types of questions.  There are also useful secondary sources that provide great summaries of the Ethiopian legal systems.  Among these are New York University School of Law‘s  GlobaLex, and the Foreign Law Guide (available on subscription). 

spacer Various electronic sources provide access to Ethiopian Federal laws and laws issued during the period when Ethiopia was a unitary State.  The Ethiopian Federal Courts (EFC) website, although incomplete, is the most authoritative of all.  It includes the six core Ethiopian codes issued in the late 1950′s and early 1960′s and laws issued after Ethiopia was transformed into a federation in 1995.  The website includes major codes, such as the Revised Federal Family Code and the Federal Criminal Code, as well as numerous proclamations and regulations.  However, so far, the proclamations cover only up to the 2003 legislative year and the latest regulations available in the website were issued in 2006.

Although not as authoritative a source as the EFC website, the Ethiopian Legal Brief, a website maintained by a Law Professor in Ethiopia,  goes the extra mile.  It makes available Codes (including those issued decades ago and recent ones),  proclamations (1995-2012), regulations (1996-2011), and consolidated administrative directives.  It also includes select decisions of the Federal Supreme Court Cassation, a bench in the Federal Supreme Court with the authority to review certain decisions issued by lower federal courts, the regular division of the Supreme Court, and state supreme courts.

Other websites take a subject matter approach to publishing laws.  The Ethiopian Investment Agency makes available Acts and directives germane to issues of investment.  The United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) portal, REFWORLD, is a good source for select laws including on immigration and citizenship, criminal law and refugee law.  Laws on limited areas of law, organized by subject matter, are also available at the World Law Guide.  Another source for selected Ethiopian Federal laws is the International Labor Organization (ILO) portal, NATLEX.

Ethiopian State laws are relatively hard to come by.  Eight constitutions of the nine of regional states are available on the Ethiopian Legal Brief site.  The Ethiopian Law Network, in addition to its collection of federal laws neatly arranged by subject matter, provides access to limited regional state laws, mainly the land laws of the Amhara, Oromia, and Tigray Regional States.

The Law Library of Congress collects Ethiopian federal laws and select state laws.  Whenever you cannot find sources online, please do not hesitate to contact us.  You may submit your questions by phone, through an online request form, or written correspondence.  You may also post your questions on our Facebook wall or submit them via Twitter to @LawLibCogress.

Posted in: Ask A Librarian, Global Law

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An Interview with Loi Huynh, Foreign Law Intern

July 18th, 2012 by Kelly Buchanan

This week’s interview is with Loi Huynh.  Loi is spending time working for the Law Library this summer as an intern in the Global Legal Research Center. Describe your background. I was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  I was fortunate to grow up in a family where being a lawyer was …

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Posted in: Global Law, Interview

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The Current Legislation on Citizenship in the Vatican City State

July 18th, 2012 by Tina Gheen

The following is a guest post by Dante Figueroa, Senior Legal Information Analyst at the Law Library of Congress. The author would like to recognize the collaboration of  Samuel Urueta, Summer Intern, in the preparation of this posting. Currently, the Vatican City State has a population of about 800 people, which makes it one of the …

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Posted in: Global Law, Guest Post, Law Library

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180th Anniversary of the Law Library of Congress

July 17th, 2012 by Jeanine Cali

The following is a guest post by Donna Sokol, Special Assistant to the Law Librarian of Congress.  This post is a follow-up piece to Friday’s Pic of the Week. Happy Birthday to us!  On July 14, 1832, Congress passed an act that brought the Law Library into existence.  To celebrate our 180th anniversary, we saluted …

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Posted in: Event, Law Library

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180th Anniversary Balloon – Pic of the Week

July 13th, 2012 by Jeanine Cali

The following is a guest post by Donna Sokol, Special Assistant to the Law Librarian of Congress.  Donna  has previously written a series of posts related to themes of law in the art and architecture of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. On July 14, 2012, the Law Library of Congress will officially turn 180 …

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Posted in: Event, Guest Post, Law Library, Pic of the Week

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Kiribati Independence Day

July 12th, 2012 by Kelly Buchanan

Today, July 12, is Kiribati Independence Day.  This Pacific Island nation is made up of 32 atolls in three island groups, plus one raised coral island, in the central Pacific.  The country is spread over 1,351,000 square miles of ocean – an area equivalent in size to the continental United States, according to the State Department.  Kiribati …

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Posted in: Global Law, In the News

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Visit by Professor Allan Brewer-Carías

July 11th, 2012 by Jeanine Cali

The following is a guest post by  Dante Figueroa, Senior Legal Analyst at the Law Library of Congress.  Dante has posted on his Visit to the University of Costa Rica’s Law School Library and a previous visit and lecture by Professor Brewer-Carías. On June 20, 2012, Roberta Shaffer, Associate Librarian for Library Services, met with the …

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Posted in: Event, Guest Post, Law Library

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Where Can I Find a Congressional Bill?

July 10th, 2012 by Hanibal Goitom

The following is a guest post by Shameema Rahman, Legal Reference Specialist in our Public Services Division.  Her most recent post was: Using Secondary Legal Resources to Locate Primary Sources. As a Law Library of Congress reference librarian I am often asked this question by our patrons.  THOMAS and the Government Printing Office’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) website are great sources …

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Posted in: Ask A Librarian, Collections, Law Library, THOMAS

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Library of Congress Launches Beta Release of Linked Data Classification

July 9th, 2012 by Tina Gheen

A while back I  mentioned the Library of Congress was looking at ways to provide the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) as linked data. I am happy to report linked data versions of several classes have been released in beta on the LC Linked Data Service by the Network Development and Metadata Standards Office (NDMSO). These …

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Posted in: Gov 2.0, Law Library

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Library Cart – Pic of the Week

July 6th, 2012 by Margaret Wood

We have written many posts highlighting materials in the Law Library’s collections, but today we are providing a glimpse of the day-to-day work which goes into keeping our collections up-to-date.  This library cart contains replacement volumes, pocket parts and softbound supplements which Alex LoBianco will file in the Law Library Reading Room.  Although the work is …

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Posted in: Collections, Law Library, Pic of the Week

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