UN-mandates investigation into atrocities in Ethiopia

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Geneva, Ethiopia.

A U.N-mandated investigation into continuing atrocities in Ethiopia faces closure after a U.N. website on Wednesday showed that no motion has been received to renew it.

Thousands died in a two-year conflict between the government and regional forces from Tigray, which formally came to an end in Nov. 2022.

Both sides accused each other of atrocities; including massacres, rape and arbitrary detentions, but each denied responsibility for systemic abuses.

The International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, created by the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2021 after a motion submitted by the European Union, said that war crimes and crimes against humanity were still being committed in Ethiopia.

However, diplomats said strong African opposition appears to have deterred proponents from seeking another mandate. The mandate was renewed in 2022 only by a small margin.

Lucy McKernan from Human Rights Watch said “having no resolution is scandalous in the face of the report of the experts that was just published.

McKernan is responsible for advocacy work at the Human Rights Council and other UN human rights mechanisms.

Ethiopia, which denies committing widespread abuses, has strongly opposed the probe and tried to cut its work short.

It held an event on the sidelines of the Human Rights Council in September to instead promote its own national justice policies as the preferred avenue of investigation an approach the U.N. commission described as “deeply flawed”.

In an analysis released on Tuesday, the commission concluded that there was a high risk that atrocities would continue, finding that all eight common risk factors laid out in a U.N. framework were present in Ethiopia.

It cited the conflict in the Amhara region in recent months and the government’s failure to hold people to account for crimes committed during the Tigray conflict as factors that could lead to future atrocities. 

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