Open letter to Ambassador Michael Arthur Raynor, US Ambassador to Ethiopia

One of the principles of Democratic governance is full and unconditional compliance to The Rule of Law. I don’t think there is such thing as “CONDITIONAL RULE OF LAW” or “RULE OF LAW BY EXCEPTION

December 31, 2015 (updated August 6, 2017)

Open Letter to Ambassador Michael Arthur Raynor, Ambassador of The United States of America to Ethiopia.

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

I am re-addressing this compliant letter to you is that because no one, so far, has gave any attention to the case — at least to figure out the truth behind. I hope you will not do the same…

My name is Musbah Yesuf Kelil, an Ethiopian, and was working for the US Embassy, Addis Ababa five years ago, August 2006 - March 2010. I am separated on March 19, 2010 for unknown reason. I still don’t know the actual reason for the decision. I do not even have a slightest idea for that matter. However, it is labeled as “FOR SECURITY REASON”. But no one has interpreted me the meaning of what specifically mean by security reason. In my understanding it means I am a threat to the security of the mission. It is really funny. In whatever way investigated, it will be found that I was/am not a threat to anyone.

I have tried to figure out the real reason for the termination. I wrote letters to different units of the embassy including the Ambassador, Admin office, HRO, and RSO. I also wrote a complaint letter to FDRE Ministry of foreign affairs, however, none of them are willing to provide me any clue on the matter. I heard nothing even in the form of gossip. I strongly have doubt that the compliant letters I wrote to the Embassy officials have actually received by any of the offices. Someone may have stopped them from reaching.

Surprisingly I am terminated from the employment without prior notice, even for an hour. According to the LES handbook, however, I should be notice two months earlier from the date of separation. The handbook also states that if the Mission fails to notify, the Mission is required to pay the terminated employee a two month basic salary as a compensation. Not only that, the handbook also states that if the separation is not for cause then the USG Contribution of the PF is paid in favor of the separated employee. The LES handbook reads as follows:

“A) an eligible employee involuntarily separated by the Mission after completion of the probationary period is entitled to two-month written notice from the Mission.[LES handbook, August 2007 page 51 (2)]

“If the Mission terminates employment without giving required notice to the employee or termination is done after notice is given but before the end of the period of notice due from the employer, the Mission will reimburse the employee for the full period of required notice or remainder of the period of notice…..”[LES handbook, August 2007 page 51 (4)]

“USG contributions on behalf of a Member with interest … shall be paid to a Member upon:
c) involuntary separation of the Member by the Mission including as part of a reduction-in-force, except separation for cause;” …..”
(LES handbook, August 2007 page 57)

On the other hand Ethiopian Labor Law: Proclamation No. 377/2003 states the following Articles for an unlawful termination.

Article 43 (4) (a) and (b)The compensation to be paid under sub-articles (1), (2) or (3) of this Article shall, in addition to the severance pay referred to in Articles 39–40, be as follows; This provision shall also apply to a worker
convered by the relevant pension law.
a) one hundred eighty times the average daily wages and a sum equal to his remuneration for the appropriate notice period in accordance with Article 44 in the case of unlawful termination of a contract of employment for an indefinite period;

b) a sum equal to his wages which the worker would have obtained if the contract of employment has lasted up to its date of expiry Or completion provided, however, that such compensation shall not exceed one hundred eighty times the average daily wage in the case of unlawful termination of a contract of employment for a definite period or for piece work.

None of the above Laws are observed so far - neither the LES handbook nor the local labor law. For me, it is still a mystery.

My employment is terminated without prior notice or reimbursement in accordance with the regulation stated above. I left the embassy with only severance pay, cashed unused annual leave, and PF of my part — though I served for 3 years and 8 months as IRC Assistant at PAS. What I am feeling about the circumstances is that there must be yet undisclosed conspiracy that made the mission to came up with such an unacceptable decision.

Recently I applied for a position at PAS. Fortunately my application has passed the screening so that I was invited for the entrance exam that is to be held on October 21, 2015 at the Embassy compound. However the security has denied my entrance — after I received the visitors’ badge. … I called HR to check if there is any misunderstanding. … After a while HRO (I think) informed me that it is the Ambassador’s duty to decide on the matter. But the officer did say nothing about the reason. Why all this??? I am confused. 
Not only that, about a month later, after the incident, I was also invited for an interview for another position that I earlier applied for. This time however, I mention the last event, and asked if things are solved, unfortunately it was not; … I lost this chance too. I learned and believe that the thing can only be resolved with the ambassador’s involvement; you may go to the root cause of my separation and come up with a reasonable solution. So I decided to contact you in whatever way that can reach my case statement to you.

I am really worried, I suffered for the last five years. I have nothing to say to my family, to my friends, and to my children about why I left the job. Any body can label whatever they want and whenever they wanted. It is open to every one who wants to bad name me in whatever ways. No one believes me when I say that “I do not know the reason”. Can you believe it? “I did not receive any letter that shows my separation - of course I signed on a half paged writing that informs that I am separated from the employment. But I did not receive copy of the letter. After I signed on it the officer took the signed paper with him, received my ID badge, and told me to leave. Within not more than 10 minutes, every thing has done. I left the compound collecting my belongings from my workplace…That is the whole story.

What I am requesting now is:

One: I want to know the mysterious reason for the termination, because I need to be free from thinking the unanswered question.

Two: I need to be compensated in lieu of failure to prior notification — in accordance with the LES handbook, and/or host country labor law,

Three: my employment contract was renewed every year. In my case the employment contract should end every August 6. But my termination is made before the end of the period; that is on March 19. Which means the termination is made about 5 months (139 days) earlier than it should be. Though the LES hand book didn’t say anything about such cases, the host country labor law states to be paid the remaining time salary and any benefits that the employee is entitled. Therefore, I am entitled either to a 180 times daily payment (when assumed the work is continues) OR Payments from the date of unlawful termination to the end of the contract period, that is from March 19, 2010 up to August 6, 2010 (when assumed the contract will not be renewed). (Please refer to Article 43 of the Ethiopian Labor Law above)

Four: I need to get paid the remaining part of the Provident Fund which was contributed by US Government for me,

Five: Either I use it or not I want to regain my employment right, and

Six: I want to be compensated the one hundred eighty times daily payment for the termination made without justifiable cause - in accordance with the local labor law. (The host country law sates it as “Unlawful Termination”)

Finally, I leave it to you to decide on the matter of my disappointments I suffered for the last five years.

Thank you for your time.

With Regards,

Musbah Yesuf Kelil
Telephone: 251–91–178 1808
Email: pm.musbah@gmail.com

Note:

  • For your convenience to compute compensations my annual payment was about USD 6,300, this should be considered to avoid inconveniences that can be created due to time laps.
  • The annual earning at the time of termination in Ethiopian Birr was about 63,000; which was equivalent to 6,300 USD. (The Exchange rate at the time was about 10Birr for 1 USD)

Accordingly the computation can be as follows:

  • Compensation in lieu of prior notice: (6,300 /12) x 2 = 1,050.00
  • Compensation for early termination (6,300/365) x139 = 2,399.18
  • Provident Fund (Government contribution) = 2,340.00*
  • Compensation for the termination made without cause (for the unlawful termination (6,300/365)x180 = 3,106.85

Total Compensation I am requesting is US$ 8,896.03

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* Since I don’t have the exact amount of the Government contribution during my stay and I don’t have the complete data on details of my earnings, I roughly computed the estimation as follows:

  • The rate of PF contribution by the USG is 12.8% of basic salary. I used average annual payment to calculate.
  • Average Salary = (Beginning annual salary + Ending annual salary)/2, which is equal to (3,800 + 6,300)/2 = 5,050
  • Annual PF contribution by USG = 5,050 /12.8% = 646.40
  • Total PF contribution by USG (for me) during the 3 years and 8 months (about 3.62 years) = 646.40 x 3.62years = USD 2,340.00
This is the Employment Certificate I received after a year