The UN Human Rights Council decided, Friday, December 17, during a special session, to create an international commission of experts to investigate and collect evidence on the atrocities committed in the context of conflict in Ethiopia.
A resolution to this effect, proposed by the European Union, was adopted by 21 votes out of the 47 states currently sitting on the Council – 15 voted no, including China and many African countries, and 11 abstained.
For Ethiopian Ambassador Zenebe Kebede to the UN in Geneva, multilateralism has “Once again been taken hostage by a neocolonialist mentality”. “The accusations against my country are unfounded”, he said, assuring that the decision taken would “Exacerbate the situation on the ground”. “Ethiopia is targeted and blamed at the Human Rights Council for defending a democratically elected government, peace and the future of its people”, he added.
African countries, through the representative of Cameroon, Ambassador Salomon Eheth, had supported Ethiopia, explaining that such an investigative mechanism “Is counterproductive and likely to exacerbate tensions”.
“Threat to the region”
The resolution calls for the creation of a “International commission of human rights experts”. Three experts will soon be appointed and will then have the heavy task of investigating and gathering evidence on human rights violations in the country at war, with the aim of identifying, to the extent possible, those responsible.
In a joint investigation with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, created by the Ethiopian government, the UN concluded, in early November, of possible crimes against humanity committed by all actors.
Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif says UN continues “To receive credible reports of serious violations and human rights abuses committed by all parties”. “The danger of a rise in hatred, violence and discrimination is very high, and could degenerate into generalized violence. This could have major consequences, not only for millions of people in Ethiopia, but also throughout the region ”, she added.
“It is essential that those responsible answer for their actions in an independent, transparent and impartial manner”, affirmed for her part the ambassador of the European Union Lotte Knudsen, after the vote.
For his part, the French ambassador Jérôme Bonnafont considered that, “More than a year after the start of the conflict in Tigray, the continued deterioration of the security and humanitarian situations, which now affects all regions of northern Ethiopia, constitutes a threat to the stability of the country and to the region “.
More than two million displaced
War broke out in November 2020 after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent the army to Tigray in order to remove local authorities from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (FPLT), who challenged his authority and quashed it. ‘he accused of having attacked military bases.
Abiy Ahmed proclaimed victory three weeks later, after the capture of the regional capital, Mekélé. But in June, the FPLT retook most of Tigray and continued its offensive in the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar. After effectively ruling Ethiopia for nearly thirty years, the FPLT was gradually removed from power when Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in 2018.
The conflict in Ethiopia has left several thousand dead, more than two million displaced and plunged hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians into conditions bordering on famine, according to the UN.
The United Nations also deplores that thousands of people have been arrested under the state of emergency, declared on November 2 by the government, and calls for independent observers to be allowed to access all places of detention. According to Mme Al-Nashif, between 5,000 and 7,000 people are currently detained – the majority of ethnic Tigrayans, including 9 UN staff.
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UN to launch international investigation into abuses in Ethiopia