Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele met with the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 15, 2023 in Addis Ababa as part of the Secretary of State’s official schedule during his visit in Ethiopia. The meeting served to raise issues related to humanitarian access, humanitarian needs of drought and conflict-affected populations and the issue of justice and accountability for the victims of conflict in Ethiopia, including victims of sexual and gender-based violence.
While the progress in implementation of measures provided in the Pretoria Peace Agreement in particular relating to transitional justice were top of the agenda, conflicts and attacks on civilians in other parts of the country, displacement and other human rights concerns such as use of excessive force, detention of human rights defenders, political party members and media personnel were also discussed.
During the meeting, the Secretary of State reiterated US support to national human rights institutions, civil society organizations and individuals.
The Chief Commissioner described the meeting as having been “positive and fruitful” and an opportunity to emphasize at a high level “the importance of a nationwide victim-centred and human rights compliant transitional justice process and mechanism”.
Following the meeting, the Secretary of State on his part also officially acknowledged the role local human rights organizations and advocates play. “I am moved by the commitment of human rights leaders and advocates in Addis. I welcome their efforts to support inclusive dialogue and a victim-centred transitional justice process to heal the country’s divisions and provide peace and security for all Ethiopians” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said.
On the importance of such recognition, EHRC Chief Commissioner said that “in the challenging environment in which human rights defenders and civil society organizations operate in Ethiopia, such public acknowledgements and support for the nationally owned and led transitional justice initiative send a positive message that also resonate with the people and voices the Commission, its partners and stakeholders represent”.