Ethiopia's delegate to the United Nations has called on the UN Human Rights Council to end the mandate of a team of human rights experts on Ethiopia after the presentation of its latest report, which highlights that war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to be committed despite the signing of the cessation of hostilities agreement concluded in November 2022 in Pretoria to end the war in Tigray. The delegate, regional media reported, accused the commission of failing to recognize the government's efforts and engaging in "defamatory rhetoric with questionable methodology", in a call that appears in stark contrast to calls from bodies such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for the mandate to be extended. The Human Rights Council is due to express its opinion early next month on the mission in Ethiopia, deciding whether or not to extend it for another year. UN-appointed experts visited Ethiopia in July last year but their stay was limited to the capital, Addis Ababa, as they were denied access to any conflict-affected areas in northern Ethiopia. Their mandate will expire in December, unless the Council decides otherwise.
In the report, presented yesterday to the United Nations Human Rights Council, experts hold all parties to the conflict in northern Ethiopia responsible for widespread atrocities, many of which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The 21-page document was compiled by the three-member International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia and documents far-reaching atrocities committed since conflict erupted between the government and the Tigray Liberation Front, the November 3, 2020. Presenting the report, Mohamed Chande Othman, president of the Commission, warned that the failure of last year's agreement to end hostilities had shattered optimism that the pact would “pave the way for the end of one of the deadliest conflicts of the 21st century, one that has devastated communities across northern Ethiopia.” The United Nations and other institutions estimate that around 600 civilians in Tigray died and more than 2 million were displaced from November 2020 to August 2022. “Not only has the agreement on the cessation of hostilities failed to achieve any comprehensive peace” , Othman said, “but the atrocities are ongoing and the conflict, violence and instability now have an almost national dimension.”
According to the expert, the commission's investigation clearly shows that the Ethiopian government and the forces under its control, as well as the Eritrean forces in Ethiopia, continue to commit serious violations and atrocious crimes throughout the northern region. “The Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces, regional forces and affiliated militias have perpetrated violations in Tigray on a staggering scale,” he said, “including mass killings, widespread and systematic rape and sexual violence against women and girls, deliberate starvation, forced displacement and large-scale arbitrary detention. This amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity.” The commission's report confirms that Tigray forces and allied militias also committed serious violations against civilians in the Amhara and Afar regions, “including killings, widespread rape and sexual violence, destruction of property and looting, also amounting to war crimes". The commission also notes that serious violations have spread beyond the north of the country to Oromia, where it uncovered “ongoing patterns by government forces of arrest, detention and torture of civilians.” “These atrocities – past and current, regardless of the region or community affected – are having a severe and ongoing impact on survivors, victims and their families and have severely eroded the fabric of society,” Othman said, adding that “the The need for a credible and inclusive process of truth, justice, reconciliation and healing has never been more urgent."