Panafrican News Agency

Ethiopian Crisis: Ethiopia slams AU's 'unilateral' Tigray inquiry; calls for joint investigation

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - Ethiopia has rejected the "unilateral" establishment of a commission of inquiry into the Tigray crisis in northern Ethiopia and called for a joint investigation.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) said it was officially commencing its inquiry on Thursday and called for the collaboration of all stakeholders to enable it to carry out its mission.

However, Ethiopia has described the step of the ACHPR as "regrettable", saying it is "completely outside the scope of the invitation by the government and lacks legal basis".

A statement by the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said while the Government of Ethiopia was "engaged in good faith to facilitate the necessary conditions for the joint investigation, the unilateral announcement of ACHPR undermines the cooperative spirit and the ongoing efforts of the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to formalise the modalities of the stated investigation".

It said this is also inconsistent with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as the Rules of Procedure of the Commission itself.

Ethiopia said the ACHPR as an African Union institution has an obligation to engage with member states in constructive and principled partnership.

"It still has the opportunity to rectify this unfortunate and unhelpful step and engage in good faith in a joint investigation which it (Ethiopia) has already accepted.

"Such unhelpful actions by the Commission will not advance the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in the continent and will rather undermine mutual confidence with member states."

Ethiopia said ACHPR should "immediately cease the process", which is not acknowledged by Ethiopia and engage with relevant authorities in the country to finalise the modalities regarding the proposed investigation.

The ACHPR said it was commencing the inquiry on Thursday into the crisis in Ethiopia's Tigray region, where fighting between the Federal and regional governments has led to reports of widespread human rights abuses and fears of famine.

It said the Commission of Inquiry will sit for an initial period of three months, which may subsequently be renewed, the statement said.

It added that the commission will adhere to the principles of independence, confidentiality, impartiality and neutrality, ensuring the protection of those with whom it collaborates".

The conflict is the result of months of escalating tensions between the Ethiopian Government and the dominant regional force, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on 4 November 2020 ordered a military offensive after TPLF forces attacked a federal army base. 

Fighting has sparked massive displacement, widespread destruction of livelihoods and infrastructure, and loss of employment.

-0- PANA MA/AR 17June2021