Ethiopia: the UN gives more time to human rights investigators

Weeks after hostilities resumed in northern Ethiopia, today the United Nations (UN) Hu­man Rights Council extended the mandate of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethio­pia (ICHREE), a decision DefendDefenders welcomes. Investigators will have more time to carry out their work and document violations and abuses committed by all parties to the conflict, in Tigray as well as in the Afar, Amhara, and Oromia regions. 

“Extending the Commission’s mandate is the right step to advance truth, justice, and reparations for survivors, victims, and their families,” said Hassan Shire, Exe­cu­tive Direc­tor, Defend­Defen­ders. “As a majority of members of the Human Rights Council made clear, further investigations are needed in Ethiopia.” 

During the Council’s 51st session (12 September-7 October 2022), the ICHREE presented its initial report, in which it indicated that it has “reasonable grounds to believe” that violations of international law, including extrajudicial killings, rape, sexual violence, and starvation of civilians have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Ethio­pia since November 2020 and that, “in several instances, these violations amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.” The Com­mission, however, emphasised the need for further investigations. 

In the resolution adopted today, the Human Rights Council called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, which resumed in northern Ethiopia in August 2022. It also expressed alarm at the humanitarian situation and renewed presence of Eritrean troops in Tigray, and con­demned violations committed by all parties. 

The resolution requests the ICHREE to brief the Council and the UN General Assembly, and to present a written report at the Council’s 54th session, in September 2023. 

“It is of critical importance that the Commission receive the resources it needs to fulfil its man­date,” said Es­tel­la Kabach­wezi, Advo­cacy, Research and Communications Manager, Defend­Defen­ders. “The Com­mission needs adequate staffing to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into all violations and abuses and to integrate a gender perspective and a survivor-centred approach throughout its work, as per its man­date.” 

Ahead of the Human Rights Council’s 51st session (HRC51), a group of civil society organisations urged the Coun­cil to sup­port a resolution that reflects the human rights situation in Ethiopia and extends the mandate of the ICHREE, highlighting that such an extension was needed “given the magnitude, gravity, and scope of violations and abu­ses” committed in the country. 

The ICHREE was established during the Council’s 33rd special (emergency) session, on 17 December 2021, which followed a first resolution on Ethiopia, adopted in July 2021 after armed conflict broke out in the northern region of Tigray, on 3 November 2020. 

 

For more information, please contact:

Estella Kabachwezi
Advocacy, Research and Communications Manager, DefendDefenders
[email protected] or +256 782 360 460 (English)

Nicolas Agostini
Representative to the United Nations for DefendDefenders
[email protected] or +41 79 813 49 91 (English and French)

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