Social media posts and misleading reports are circulating on the media landscape regarding the recent developments of the two draft bills called HR6600 and S3199 proposed to coerce the Ethiopian government to comply with the conditions the United States laid down to end the conflict in Tigray.
HaqCheck observed some false and misleading social media claims and reports on the issue. Some of the posts claimed that the S3199 bill is already approved as law. While others said the HR6600 draft was suspended due to objections from Russia and China.
To mention some instances of these claims and controversies:
To begin with, the HR6600 draft bill called Ethiopia Stabilization, Peace, and Democracy Act was introduced on Feb 4, 2022. The proposed bill that was initiated by Bob Menendez, a member of the American Senate, and co-sponsored by US Congressmen Michael McCaul and Gregory Meeks intends to impose sanctions on belligerents to end the armed conflict in Ethiopia’.
The sanctions include blocking of properties, visa restrictions, and prohibition of assistance from the US and international financial institutions.
The other draft bill, S3199 is called Ethiopia Peace and Democracy Promotion Act of 2021 and was introduced on Nov 4, 2021. If ratified as a law, it will impose sanctions on those who would help and provide the parties involved in the armed conflict in northern Ethiopia with weapons or military resources. It proposed that the US government would work to oppose any loan or extension of financial or technical assistance from international institutions to Ethiopia and Eritrea. The bill was proposed by Tom Malinowski, a member of the US House of Representatives.
The proposed bills were topics of discussion and controversies on the Ethiopian social media landscape.
The Ethiopian government had been calling for protests in opposition to the proposed bills. Demeke Mekonnen, Foreign Minister and Deputy PM called on the Ethiopian diaspora on Mar 22, 2022, to protest against the drafted HR6600 and S3199 bills.
Spokesperson of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dina Mufti said on Mar 24, 2022, that the Ethiopian diaspora should intensify the protests against the ratification process of the two drafts.
Recently, rallies were held in America, Washington DC protesting against HR6600 and S3199.
In this context, false claims and misleading statements emerged and are being disseminated across the Ethiopian social media landscape.
The first major claim was that the bills were dropped due to the objection from Russia and China. However, the draft bills would be approved and implemented at the national level in the US, since they are initiated by bodies of the American government. Besides, the bills would be enacted unilaterally by the US. They are not sanctions to be decided upon by multilateral institutions such as the UN agencies or multilateral agreements. And Russia and China can not veto them as they only have this power at the UN Security Council.
The second controversial claim regarding the draft bills is that S3199 was recently approved as a law.
The two drafted bills should pass through five stages to become law. The stages are; introduction to Foreign Relations Committees, approval by Senate, approval by House, approval by the President, and becoming law.
If a bill is proposed by a Senate member, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (SCFR) votes on and passes it to the full Senate. But if a bill is proposed by a member of the House of Representatives, the House Committee on Foreign Relations (HCFR) votes on and passes it to the full House of Representatives.
The draft bill of S3199 was proposed by a Senator. The SCFR then passed the draft on Mar 29, 2022, to the Senate to be voted on. To be law, this draft bill should be approved by the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the US President. The draft bills need a double majority vote, from Senate and House, to be passed on to the President for signature.
On the other hand, the draft bill HR6600 was proposed by a member of the House of Representatives. It was voted on by the HCFR and passed to the US House of Representatives on Feb 8, 2022. Similarly, this proposed bill has to be approved by the Representatives, Senators, and the President to be enacted as law.
Thus, these two drafted bills are not yet law. They are in process and have to pass through three stages; the Senate, the House, and the President to be considered as law and for implementation.