Ethiopians support rule of law, concerned about impunity for officials who break the law, Afrobarometer survey shows

Wednesday, 10 February 2021 23:38

Ethiopians overwhelmingly favour a government that always follows the law, even when doing so runs counter to popular demand, according to the most recent Afrobarometer survey.

Similarly, a majority say the prime minister must always obey the laws and courts, even if he or she thinks they are wrong.

But popular faith in the rule of law confronts the widespread perception that officials who commit crimes often go unpunished and that people are often treated unequally under the law.

Key findings

  • An overwhelming majority (86%) of Ethiopians say government actions must always follow the law; only 14% think that popular support should allow a government to do “whatever the people want” (Figure 1).
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of citizens say the prime minister must always obey the laws and the courts, while three in 10 (31%) hold that he should not be bound by laws or court decisions that he thinks are wrong (Figure 2).
  • More than half (53%) of Ethiopians think that officials who commit crimes “often” or “always” go unpunished. By contrast, only three in 10 (29%) say the same is true for ordinary citizens (Figure 3).
  • o The perception that officials who break the law often go unpunished is more common among citizens with post-secondary education (65%) and urban residents (62%) than among those with less education (51%-53%) and rural dwellers (51%) (Figure 4).
  • Almost half (45%) of Ethiopians say people are “often” or “always” treated unequally under the law, though a slim majority (53%) believe this “rarely” or “never” happens (Figure 5).

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