A U.N. investigative panel is calling on the government of Ethiopia to end conflict-related rights violations on its territory and bring the perpetrators of crimes to justice. The commission has submitted its first report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The three-member International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia reports that violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law continue and appear to be committed with impunity.
Commission chair Kaari Betty Murungi said the panel is alarmed by ongoing atrocities against civilians, including events reported in the Oromia region. This is a reference to the recent killings of an estimated 250 people, mostly from the Amhara ethnic group, allegedly by the rebel Oromo Liberation Army.
“Any spread of violence against civilians, fueled either by hate speech or incitement to ethnic-based or gender-based violence, are early warning indicators and a precursor for further atrocity crimes,” Murungi said. “These and the protracted humanitarian crisis including blockades to food and medical aid, supplies and services pose grave risk to the Ethiopian civilian population and to people in the region.”
The commission was established last December at a special session on the human rights situation in Ethiopia since Nov. 3, 2020. That was when the government’s military offensive in Tigray began in response to attacks by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
Ethiopia has rejected as unwarranted the adoption of the resolution that established the commission.
Ethiopia's ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, Zenebe Kebede Korcho, however, has told the council his government will cooperate with the commission despite ongoing reservations. He said discussions have begun.
“The country is now turning a page,” Korcho said. “The government of Ethiopia has decided to seek peaceful end to the conflict. An inclusive national dialogue is launched to address political problems across the country. The government has taken numerous confidence-building measures.”
The ambassador said his government has declared an indefinite humanitarian truce in northern Ethiopia. As a result, he noted humanitarian assistance is reaching all those in need.
The commission said it has begun its work and welcomes the cooperation of the Ethiopian government. The commission adds it believes it can contribute to furthering accountability for the many violations that have occurred since the start of the conflict in Tigray and that are still ongoing.