Panafrican News Agency

Ethiopian crisis: Govt rejects 'incomplete, incoherent, unsubstantiated' rights report on Tigray

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The Ethiopian government has "categorically" rejected the report of International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) that blames Addis Ababa for crimes against humanity in the Tigray region following renewed clashes between the Government and the regional Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

The state-owned Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) quoted an official statement as saying the ICHREE's initial findings on the conflict are meant to "demonise" the government, describing them as "incomplete, incoherent, and unsubstantiated".

“It is a manifestly political statement issued under the guise of an ‘investigation' report,” the 23-page statement said, according to ENA.

Fighting between the Government and the TPLF resumed late last month with both sides blaming each other for the renewed hostilities.

The ICHREE highlighted what it called credible information of large-scale killings committed by Ethiopia's National Defence Force, that targeted Tigrayan men and boys of fighting age, according to media reports, which add that the rights body said there is also evidence that starvation is being used as a weapon of war.

But the Ethiopian government dismissed this saying it believes that the report was written "in breach of all principles of professionalism, independence, impartiality, and standards of proof entailed in any such process under international practice".

“The GoE (Government of Ethiopia) regrets the hasty, substandard, and agenda-driven pathway the ICHREE chose to discharge its responsibility."

ENA said the Government, criticising the disputed mandate of the ICHREE, reiterated that the establishment of ICHREE by the UN Human Rights Council was "uncalled for and founded on a series of erroneous premises".

The statement said Resolution s-33/1 of 17 December 2021 was adopted after Ethiopia had already accepted the recommendations of the Joint Investigation Report of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission-UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (EHRC-OHCHR).

ENA said following the Joint Investigation Report, the Ethiopian government established the Inter-Ministerial Task Force (IMTF) to "comprehensively deliver on accountability and redress measures and initiated an independent criminal investigation".

The statement further noted that the government of Ethiopia had amply communicated that the resolution and ICHREE undermines one of the most settled principles of international law – that the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights rests with states themselves.

ENA said the government also slammed the ICHREE, which has made "alarming" remarks in its conclusion about ethnic hatred, saying: “It is unacceptable for a human rights body to disseminate such falsehood based on their clumsy work.”

The government has brought perpetrators of violations of human rights to justice and has the commitment, it added.

The Ethiopian Government further reaffirmed its commitment that the judicial and law enforcement institutions have the capacity to discharge their responsibility to investigate and bring to justice whoever is responsible for violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

The Ethiopian Government reiterated that it will closely work in collaboration with OHCHR in Ethiopia and other members of the international community, the statement said.

The latest round of fighting between the Ethiopian Government and the TPLF started late last month.  

The conflict between the Addis Ababa government and TPLF started on 4 November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military offensive after TPLF forces attacked a federal army base. 

The fighting sparked massive displacement, widespread destruction of livelihoods and infrastructure, loss of employment and a huge humanitarian crisis.

Ethiopia declared a unilateral ceasefire in June 2021 but tension has remained high between the two sides.

There has been a fresh chorus of calls for ceasefire and both sides have said they are ready for peace talks.

-0- PANA MA 21Sept2022