Acute risk of more rights atrocities in Ethiopia: UN experts

AFP , Tuesday 3 Oct 2023

There is an "overwhelming risk" that human rights atrocities will continue in Ethiopia, United Nations-backed investigators probing the situation in the country said Tuesday.

The International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia has confirmed the ongoing presence of Eritrean forces in the country and continuing atrocities against civilians. AP


Last November, a peace deal between Ethiopia's federal government and rebels in the northern Tigray region ostensibly ended a brutal two-year conflict.

But serious violations are still being committed in Ethiopia, the UN rights experts have concluded. They fear the conflict is spreading across the country and putting regional stability at risk in the Horn of Africa.

"There is an overwhelming risk that human rights atrocities will continue," the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia warned in a new report.

Atrocity crimes, considered to be the most serious crimes against humankind, include genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The commission found that all eight of the common risk factors are now present in Ethiopia, plus the majority of the specific risk factors, which include ongoing serious violations, widespread violence and instability, and deeply entrenched impunity.

"We are gravely concerned about the situation in Ethiopia and the potential for future atrocities," said commission chair Mohamed Chande Othman.

The commission has confirmed the ongoing presence of Eritrean forces in Ethiopia, and continuing atrocities against civilians, in particular rape and other forms of sexual violence.

"There is a very real and imminent risk that the situation will deteriorate further, and it is incumbent upon the international community to ensure that investigations persist," said Steven Ratner, a member of the commission.

The commission was first mandated by the UN Human Rights Council in 2021. Unless it is renewed, its mandate is set to expire at the end of the current rights council session in Geneva, on October 13.

A mosaic of more than 80 ethno-linguistic communities, Ethiopia has long struggled with territorial conflicts inside its borders.

The Tigray conflict, which erupted in November 2020, pitted Ethiopia's government forces -- backed by Eritrea's army and forces from the neighbouring region of Amhara -- against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

It was marked by mass atrocities by all sides, but there were hopes the violations would cease after the signing of last year's peace deal.

Yet the commission said that Eritrean troops and Amhara militia members were continuing to commit grave violations in Tigray.

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