The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission have said in a report that serious human rights violations and violence have been committed in the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
A joint investigation by the two groups found reasonable grounds to believe that all parties to the conflict in Tigray have, to varying degrees, committed violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The report published on Wednesday also examined the devastating impact the conflict has had on civilians.
The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) detailed a series of violations and abuses, including unlawful killings and extra-judicial executions, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, violations against refugees, and forced displacement of civilians.
Investigators visited several locations, including Mekelle, Eastern Tigray (Wukro), Southeastern Tigray (Samre and nearby areas), Southern Tigray ( Alamata, Bora and Maichew), Western Tigray (Dansha, Humera and Mai Kadra), and Bahir Dar and Gondar in the Amhara region, as well as Addis Ababa.
They conducted 269 confidential interviews with victims and witnesses of alleged violations and abuses, and other sources; and held over 60 meetings with federal and regional officials, representatives of international organisations, NGOs, community-based committees, medical personnel, and other sources.
According to the UN the report covers the period from 3 November 2020, when the armed conflict began between the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF), the Eritrean Defence Force (EDF), the Amhara Special Forces (ASF), the Amhara Fano and other militias on one side, and the Tigrayan Special Forces (TSF), Tigrayan militia and other allied groups on the other, until 28 June 2021 when the Ethiopian Government declared a unilateral ceasefire.”
“The Tigray conflict has been marked by extreme brutality. The gravity and seriousness of the violations and abuses we have documented underscore the need to hold perpetrators accountable on all sides,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“As the conflict has escalated, with civilians as ever caught in the middle, it is vital that all parties heed the repeated calls to end hostilities and seek a lasting ceasefire,” said Bachelet.
Meanwhile Daniel Bekele, Chief Commissioner of the EHRC said “As the conflict expands with more reports of violations and abuses, this report presents an opportunity for all parties to acknowledge responsibility and commit to concrete measures on accountability, redress for victims and the search for a sustainable solution to end the suffering of millions.”
“EHRC remains engaged in monitoring the human rights situation since end of June and will be sharing its findings in due course,” Bekele said.
New report on #Tigray conflict calls for accountability. All parties have committed violations of int’l human rights, humanitarian & refugee law, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Perpetrators must be brought to justice: https://t.co/X6oycERVO7 pic.twitter.com/z3rVXdbyO0
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) November 3, 2021
It’s now a year since the fighting in Tigray started and the Ethiopian government has declared a state of emergency.
Prime Minister Abiy ordered the military offensive last November in response to what he said was an attack on a military base housing government troops in Tigray.
There was an escalation of the conflict after months of feuding between Mr Abiy’s government and leaders of the TPLF, which was the dominant political party in Tigray.
The authorities later labelled the TPLF a terrorist organisation and ruled out any peace talks with them.