The Human Rights Council creates a commission to investigate allegations of crimes in Ethiopia

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The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on Friday that establishes an international commission of experts to investigate allegations of abuses taking place in Ethiopia.

Human rights violations and humanitarian needs continue to plague the Ethiopian region of Tigray more than a year has passed since the conflict between the African nation’s government and the area’s former ruling party broke out in November 2020. , the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

During a special session dedicated to the serious situation of fundamental guarantees in that African region, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted that 5.2 million people, or nine out of ten, need humanitarian aid at the moment in Tigray.

Nada Al-Nashif recalled that since last July only a few humanitarian supplies managed by the UN have been able to enter Tigray and that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated in June that at least 400,000 people in Tigray lived in famine-like conditions.

The difficulties to access the area do not allow more recent estimates, so Al-Nashif indicated the probability that the current situation is even worse than that registered in summer.

UNICEF / Christine Nesbitt

The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights said 5.2 million people, or nine out of ten, are currently in need of humanitarian aid in Tigray.

The Committee approves the establishment of a commission of experts on human rights

Urging the parties to the conflict to respect repeated international calls to cease hostilities and to engage in a constructive and inclusive dialogue at the national level, he stated that at least two million people in the Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions had to be displaced. because of the conflict and that “many of them do not receive the help they need to stay alive.”

Given the seriousness of the events, the Council subsequently approved a resolution, which received the support of 21 countries, with 15 against and 11 abstentions, in which it was decided to establish an international commission of human rights experts on Ethiopia.

The committee will have an initial term of one year, subject to renewal, and its members will be three experts in fundamental guarantees appointed by the president of the Human Rights Council.

Their work will complement that previously carried out by the Joint Investigation Team, in which the UN human rights office and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission participate.

The commission’s first mandate will be to conduct “an exhaustive and impartial investigation of the allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights norms and of the violations of international humanitarian law and international refugee law in Ethiopia committed since December 3. November 2020 by all parties to the conflict ”.

UN / Jean-Marc Ferre

Panoramic view of a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

The state of exception causes multiple arrests

Al-Nashif also expressed concern about the humanitarian consequences caused by the state of emergency at the national level announced by the Ethiopian government on November 2.

The Deputy High Commissioner expressed concern that the extraordinary measure authorizes the arrest, search and detention of anyone suspected of supporting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Army, both designated as “terrorist groups. “in May 2021

“Although some of the people detained in the last six weeks have been released, we estimate that between 5,000 and 7,000 remain in detention, including 9 UN staff. Many are in solitary confinement or in unknown locations. This amounts to an enforced disappearance, and it is a very worrying issue ”.

It also deplored the increase in hate speech and incitement to violence by federal and regional authorities, as well as other public figures, especially directed against the inhabitants of Tigray and members of the Oromo community.

Ethiopia: The Council is used as an instrument of political pressure.

As a concerned country, the Ethiopian Government delegation rejected the Council’s procedures as political interference, before insisting on its “unreserved commitment” to human rights.

“Why do you want to establish a coincident body with a mandate similar to that of the Joint Investigation Team?” asked the permanent representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations in Geneva.

Ambassador Zenebe Kebede also considered that during the special session the Council “did not condemn the looting, destruction of property, rape and sexual abuse, or the use of child soldiers by these rebel forces, the Liberation Front of the Tigray village.

Kebede said the “terrorist group” commandeered more than 1,000 trucks delivering humanitarian supplies in the Tigray region and used them for military purposes, destroying food warehouses, schools, sanitary facilities and industrial parks.

“The initiators of this special session don’t care. They are determined to impose their will on the Government ”, he stressed.

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