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Letter to the UN Human Rights Council to extend the mandate of the ICHREE

Extend the mandate of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia.

21 September, 2022 

Your Excellencies,

The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) and Atrocities Watch Africa (AWA) urge the UN Human Rights Council (from now on the Council) to support a resolution that extends the mandate of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (from now on ICHREE or the Commission) for a second year.

The Council’s 51st regular session is taking place between 12 September and 7 October 2022, time during which the Commission is set to present a second report to the Council. The ICHREE conducted its first briefing to the Council on 30 June,[1] where they reflected on certain challenges in properly fulfilling their mandate, including the lack of financial and technical resources to fulfill their mandate, especially in relation to the collection and preservation of evidence to support accountability efforts. These limitations as well as time constraints have led the ICHREE to adopt an approach to investigate only certain emblematic incidents.

The Commission is mandated to conduct investigations to establish the facts and the circumstances surrounding alleged violations and abuses of international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, committed by all parties to the conflict in Ethiopia since 3 November 2020. The ICHREE is also mandated to provide guidance and technical support on transitional justice including accountability, national reconciliation, healing and make recommendations to the government of Ethiopia on these measures.

The ICHREE conducted its first visit to Ethiopia between 25 and 30 July 2022. During their visit they reiterated their request for access to sites of atrocities, which the government has not yet granted.[2] Without access, the ICHREE risks not being able to produce a comprehensive and legitimate investigation.

Taking into consideration the complex nature of the Ethiopian conflict and the magnitude of the atrocities committed the Commission has had neither sufficient time nor resources to complete its mandate.

A recent briefing by Amnesty International[3] has concluded that certain gaps in Ethiopian law enable impunity for crimes under international law and human rights violations that proscribe, which make effective accountability unlikely. The Ethiopian federal government established an Inter-Ministerial Taskforce responsible for investigating and prosecuting human rights violations in the context of the conflict, but it is unclear whether there is political will to support it to undertake truly impartial investigation and, even if it is, whether Tigrayans and others who have been framed as enemies in the war would trust the mechanism and be willing to participate. If they are not, the findings will not be credible, no matter the position of the committee.

We strongly urge all Council member states, in particular those from Africa, to adopt a resolution that extends the ICHREE’s mandate for at least another year and provides them with the necessary technical, logistical and financial support to effectively carry out their work. The Commissions work is key to ensuring justice for victims in the conflict and their families, and accountability for perpetrators.

Moreover, the Council should employ all tools in its power to ensure the ICHREE has access to the geographical sites they deem necessary to complete a full investigation, not being able to do so may affect the quality of their findings.

Sincerely,

 

African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies

Atrocities Watch Africa

 

 

 

[1] OHCHR, Oral Update of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia to the UN Human Rights Council, 30 June 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2022/06/oral-update-international-commission-human-rights-experts-ethiopia-un-human

[2] UN News, “UN delegation returns from human rights fact-finding mission in Ethiopia,” 2 August 2022, https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/08/1123822

[3] Amnesty International, “UN and AU must prioritize justice, truth and reparations in Ethiopia,” 12 September 2022, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr25/6021/2022/en/

 

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