The UN opens an investigation into “human rights violations” in Ethiopia

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The United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday agreed to open an international investigation into alleged human rights violations and abuses in Ethiopia.

This came in a special session held at the request of the European Union to discuss the impact of the conflict that erupted in the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia 13 months ago, according to the official United Nations website.

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The council (consisting of 47 countries) voted in favor of a draft resolution to establish an international commission of inquiry from experts in human rights with the approval of 21 countries, 15 against and 11 abstentions.

According to the resolution, the new committee should consist of three experts in the field of human rights, all of whom are appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council.

Mrs. Nezha Shamim Khan is currently the Chair of the 15th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

According to the draft law, the commission of international investigations is mandated to serve for an initial period of one year, but this is subject to renewal.

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The commission will work to complement what has already been accomplished by the joint investigation team, which includes the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the United Nations Human Rights Office, according to the website.

On November 3, a joint report issued by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the United Nations Human Rights Office stated that “all parties to the conflict in the African country have committed violations, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

In turn, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif said that “it is possible that more than 400,000 people in Tigray are living in famine-like conditions,” according to the same source.

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She added, during a speech before the council, that this was due to the fact that only limited relief aid had been allowed to enter the region since last June.

“Al-Nashef” indicated that at least two million people in the regions of “Tigray” and “Amhara” (North) and “Afar” (Northeast) have been displaced due to the conflict.

And she continued, “While some detainees have been released during the past 6 weeks, we estimate that between 5,000 and 7,000 people are still being held, including 9 United Nations staff members.”

Al-Nashif called on the warring parties to respect the repeated international calls for a ceasefire and to participate in a “meaningful and comprehensive dialogue” in the context of the mediation efforts of the African Union.

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On the other hand, during the session, Zeinbe Kebede, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United Nations, rejected the council’s decision, considering it a “politically motivated interference” in his country’s affairs, according to the previous source.

On November 4, 2020, armed clashes erupted in the Tigray region between the Ethiopian army and the “Popular Front” after government forces entered the region in response to an attack on an army base.

On the 28th of the same month, Ethiopia announced the end of a “law enforcement” operation by taking control of the entire region, despite reports of continued human rights violations in the region since then, with thousands of civilians killed.