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Principled Action Required to Ensure Ongoing International Scrutiny on Ethiopia

HRW Oral Statement - ID with the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia - HRC54

Displaced Ethiopians from different towns in the Amhara region wait for aid distributions at a center for the internally-displaced in Debark, in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia August 26, 2021.  © 2021 Mulugeta Ayene/AP Photo

Thank you very much, commissioners, for your excellent report despite the significant challenges imposed on your mandate.

The findings are harrowing and should stir this Council to ensure the continuation of robust independent international investigations, as they are crucial for any chance of future justice.

The scale of the abuses that have unfolded in the period covered by your mandate are mind-boggling – dozens of mass killings, widespread and systematic sexual violence against 10,000 Tigrayan women and girls, and apparent use of starvation as a method of war.

As the report starkly spells out, similar trends of abuse are ongoing in the Amhara region where fighting has taken place in towns throughout the region and mass targeted arrests of ethnic Amhara outside of the region, including in Addis Ababa, in the context of a sweeping state of emergency, as well as in Oromia, the site of a four-year long counterinsurgency.

The victims of abuse are numerous and they deserve justice. The report shows the government’s strategy of quasi compliance and limited accountability measures has not and will not respond to these obligations. Our research has found, and the report points out, that victims do not trust domestic institutions to obtain accountability. In the context of ongoing violations, including by foreign forces, and deep mistrust in government institutions, your independent investigation work is crucial.

And yet, despite the scale of these violations, and your warnings that the risk of further atrocities is high, Council members are dithering.

We call on Council members to act on the commission’s recommendations, to guarantee international scrutiny, ongoing evidence gathering and preservation and compilation of case files on perpetrators, and to renew the mandate of the commission. This is what the victims of heinous crimes in Ethiopia are asking for. They are entitled to nothing less.

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