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Human Rights High Commissioner: Ethiopia Report

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Geneva, 4 November 2021 (TDI): The appeal of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner was after the declaration of emergency in Ethiopia; on 3 November. The announcement of emergency was due to reports that Tigrayan forces advanced into Amhara. 

There are other reports of shelling of the capital of Tigray, Mekelle, by Ethiopian Government Forces. Bachelet stated that the risks of these extreme broad measures, including the powers of arrest, and detention, are high. 

BACHELET STATEMENTS

According to Bachelet, these measures would deepen divisions, provoke more conflict, endanger human rights defenders and civil society. Bachelet urged the involved parties to prioritize the protection of civilians. 

This appeal coincided with the release of the joint UN-Ethiopia report. This report suggested that all sides were responsible for terrible abuses during the first eight months of fighting. 

Bachelet also called for justice and truth for the families of the victims transparently. At the launch of a report by her Office and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission into the Tigray conflict, she told journalists in Geneva. 

Ethiopian Civilians on the Griffiths press release for conflicts & necessity for emergency relief in their country
Ethiopian Civilians, the emergency state declared on Ethiopia
HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT 

The report stated that the Joint Investigation Team uncovered violations and abuses. These violations include torture, sexual violence, unlawful killings, extra-judicial executions, gender-based violence, and forced civilian displacement.

REPORT’S DATE AND INTERVIEWS 

The report covers since the conflict began; on 3 November 2020. The note mentioned that the war is between the Ethiopian National Defence Force, the Eritrean Defence Force, the Amhara Special Forces, on one side, and the Tigrayan Special forces, Tigrayan militia, and allied groups, on the other. 

Nearly 270 confidential interviews with victims and witnesses and more than 60 meetings with federal and regional officers make it up. The report ends until 28 June, when the Ethiopian Government declared a unilateral ceasefire. 

VIOLATIONS OF THE INVOLVED PARTIES ACCORDING TO BACHELET

Bachelet insisted that her Office has motives to believe that the involved parties had committed violations. According to Bachelet, the parties committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law. 

She also stated that some of these may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. The reason is that the victims were not involved in the fighting. Bachelet described a case of a family killed in Ayder, Mekelle; their house was shelled, by the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, without military justification. 

CHALLENGES OF THE REPORTING TEAM

Bachelet also acknowledged that the reporting team faced security, operational, and administrative challenges. Those challenges were to access all parts of Tigray. Bachelet then noted that the team visited several locations. 

The team first visited Mekelle, then the regions of Eastern Tigray, southeastern Tigray, south Tigray, Western Tigray, and Bahir Dar and Gonda in Amhara. Finally, the team visited Addis Ababa. 

EXTREME BRUTALITY IN THE CONFLICT

Bachelet then stated that extreme brutality marked the conflict in Tigray. She referred to the attacks against civilians by Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Tigrayan forces. Bachelet also associated the testimonies of sexual violence shared by 30 women survivors. 

She shared her concern for the 400,000 people living in famine-like conditions due to lack of aid delivery to Tigray. Bachelet stated that the gravity and seriousness of the documented abuses underscore the need to hold perpetrators accountable on all sides.

CASES

The report stated that on 28 November 2020, shelling fired from a mountain under the control of Ethiopian National Defence Forces killed at least 29 civilians and injured 34. 

In the same month, there was fighting in Humera, where the Eritrean Defense Force and Tigrayan forces fired artillery shells. Humera´s fight killed 15 people. 

PERSECUTION OF REFUGEES

The team also found that from November 2020 to January 2021, fighting between the Tigrayan Special Forces and the Eritrean Defence Force near the Shimelba refugee camp; forced thousands of Eritrean refugees to flee. 

The fighting also resulted in the disappearance of hundreds of refugees and the destruction of the camp. The report stated that the EDF violated the fundamental principle of non-refoulment by forcefully returning at-risk Eritrean refugees to Eritrea. 

Tigrayan forces looted private properties of refugees and humanitarian organizations. 

FORCED DISPLACEMENT 

The report also documented how thousands of civilians have fled after the killings, rapes, destruction, and looting of properties. Civilians also have fled because of their fear of reprisal attacks, particularly in Western Tigray. 

Bachelet expressed her concern for the declaration of emergency state in Ethiopia. She then added that further restrictions could push this difficult humanitarian situation over the edge.

Carla Esparza Arteaga
Carla Esparza Arteagahttps://thediplomaticinsight.com
International Relations student at the Universidad de Navarra in Spain. Main interests are the work of International Organizations like the UN in the scope of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable human beings and the environment

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