UN Human Rights Chief calls for sustained efforts to halt violations and abuses: Ethiopia


UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk today called for concrete measures to halt the human rights violations and abuses that continue to endanger reconciliation and peace in Ethiopia.

“I urge the parties to the conflict to halt ongoing hostilities and to resolve difference through peaceful means. It is essential that the authorities take all feasible steps to protect civilians, prevent further violations, and ensure there are full investigations to bring those responsible to justice,” Türk said.

The High Commissioner’s call came as the UN Human Rights Office issued an update analysing the human rights situation across Ethiopia from January 2023 to January 2024.

Violent conflicts, particularly in the Amhara and Oromia regions, led to serious human rights violations and abuses in 2023, the update says. In the northern Tigray region, there was a significant improvement in the human rights situation following the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in November 2022, but concerns persist regarding ongoing violations by members of the Eritrean Defence Forces.

In 2023, at least 1,351 civilians were killed in Ethiopia in attacks reportedly carried out by Government forces, Eritrean troops, anti-Government militias and some unknown actors. Of the civilians killed, 740 were in Amhara.

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles by Government forces resulted in 248 civilian deaths between 4 August and 31 December 2023, and destroyed vital infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, raising concerns about the extent of compliance of these strikes with international law.

The update also details an attack on 29 January 2024, in which at least 89 civilians were killed, reportedly by government troops, in Merawi town near Bahir Dar, the regional capital of Amhara.

Overall, the update records 594 incidents of human rights violations and abuses affecting 8,253 victims – a 56 per cent increase compared with 2022. According to the update, State actors were reportedly responsible for some 70 per cent of the violations, while non-State actors accounted for some 22 per cent.

Fano insurgents and their allies killed at least 52 civilians and destroyed civilian property, attacked medical personnel, and destroyed ambulances, in violence targeted at government personnel.

The State of Emergency, which was declared on 4 August 2023 and expired on 3 June 2024, had resulted in actions by security forces in violation of Ethiopia’s international human rights obligations.

The High Commissioner welcome the fact that the authorities had not extended the State of Emergency.

“I urge the authorities to release immediately those detained under the former State of Emergency, if they are not charged under currently valid law and tried promptly and fairly. Those who have not been charged should also be released immediately,” he said.

“I also call on the authorities to lift the restrictions on movements and resume regular law enforcement operations to protect people.”

The update acknowledges the Ethiopian Government’s efforts to promote transitional justice and prevent violence against women and children, as well as its openness to engage in dialogue to resolve the fighting in the Amhara region.

Such progressive measures require sustained commitment, the update notes.

It highlights progress in social and economic areas, including access to health and education, with programmes such as the national school feeding policy framework and the implementation of a 10-year plan for special needs and inclusive education.

Targeted efforts and deployment of sufficient resources are needed to ensure the full enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, including for people in conflict-affected areas, the update says.

It also acknowledges the Government’s pledges to advance peace, justice, and accountability, made in the context of the high-level event held in Geneva in December to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and calls on the Government to prioritise implementation of these commitments.

To read the full report, click here: https://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/country-reports/ohchr-update-human-rights-situation-ethiopia-2023

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