The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) takes note of the Report by the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (the ICHREE) published on September 19, 2022. As stated under Resolution S-33/1, the mandate of the ICHREE was “[t]o conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into allegations of violations and abuses of [international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international refugee law in Ethiopia committed since 3 November 2020 by all parties to the conflict…] by building upon the report of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.”
The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising the EHRC and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) carried out investigations into alleged violations and abuses of international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and international refugee law committed by all parties to the conflict in the context of the conflict in Tigray including its gender dimension, covering the period between November 3, 2020 and June 28, 2021. The JIT report was released on November 3, 2021. The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Resolution S-33/1 welcomed the work, findings, and recommendations of the JIT report, and commended the OHCHR and EHRC for the impartial and transparent conduct of their work. EHRC further carried out extensive investigations on Afar and Amhara Regions, on the humanitarian situation and air strikes in Tigray, and arbitrary detentions under the State of Emergency in Ethiopia, covering the period between June 2021 and March 2022.
The HRC in Resolution S-33/1 expressed concern about the various violations identified in the JIT report and stressed the need for independent investigations and prosecution of those responsible to ensure accountability and justice for victims and survivors. The Resolution envisaged the ICHREE’s support for the implementation of specific recommendations in the JIT report including on transitional justice by requesting the ICHREE to provide guidance on transitional justice, including accountability, reconciliation, and healing. EHRC and OHCHR are jointly supporting implementation of the JIT recommendations by providing technical support to the State, including on transitional justice and accountability.
The JIT has been in discussion with the ICHREE on the complementarity envisioned under Resolution S-33/1 (para 9) and on how the ICHREE intends to build on the JIT.
report. The JIT has expressed its commitment to cooperate with the ICHREE on multiple areas including follow up on the JIT recommendations related to transitional justice and accountability, information sharing, and consultation and advice. Regarding the ICHREE’s request to access the JIT’s database, the JIT is required to observe the principles of informed consent of victims and witnesses for their information to be shared or used, confidentiality requests, and protection of sources. After extensive deliberations on the issue, the JIT has agreed to grant access to its database guided by pertinent provisions on the protection of sensitive and confidential information.
EHRC recognizes the limitations and challenges faced by the ICHREE which hindered its selection of incidents and themes to a handful, as well as the complete lack of coverage of serious human rights and humanitarian law violations which could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Afar region. In this regard, the Commission underscores that the JIT report together with EHRC’s follow-up Report on Afar, Amhara, and parts of Tigray regions, remain the most comprehensive reports on violations and abuses of international human rights law, humanitarian law, and refugee law committed by all parties to the conflict within the context of the conflict in Northern Ethiopia to date.
EHRC therefore calls on:
- the HRC to strengthen its support for implementation of the JIT report recommendations in line with Resolution S-33/1;
- all parties to the conflict, particularly the Government of Eritrea and the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front to acknowledge responsibility for the serious violations identified in the JIT report and take concrete measures with clear timeframes for implementing without delay the recommendations in the JIT report;
- the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce of the Government of Ethiopia to reinforce measures towards the timely, effective, and visible implementation of the JIT recommendations while maintaining international and regional standards; and
- the ICHREE to enhance its engagement with the JIT including support on implementation of the JIT recommendations related to transitional justice and related areas.
In conclusion, EHRC reiterates its readiness to cooperate with the ICHREE within the framework of cooperation proposed, including support to the ICHREE on discussions with the State to grant access to affected areas in Northern Ethiopia. EHRC underscores the need to exercise caution in the approach which completely disregards the situation in an entire region in Northern Ethiopia and advises ICHREE to adequately cover all affected populations and regions to fairly illustrate the situation in Northern Ethiopia.