Ethiopian crisis: Alleged Human Rights Violations
The Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia was established by the Human Rights Council on 17 December 2021 to conduct extensive and impartial investigations into allegations of violations and abuses of human rights in Ethiopia committed since 3 November 2020 by all parties to the conflict, including the potential gender dimensions of such violations and abuses.
The level of mass killings and human rights abuses in Ethiopia has been increasing over the last several years of conflict. Since November 2020, numerous human rights violations have been reported in this country, penetrated by the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces, and allied regional Special Forces and militias.
To date, the conflict is one of the deadliest of the 21st century, and has devastated communities across Tigray, Amhara, and Afar in northern Ethiopia.
Investigations to establish the full facts and legal implications have come to a central finding that indicates the staggering scale of violations and abuses perpetrated by all parties to the conflict, revealing mass killings, widespread and systematic rape, sexual violence, including sexual slavery, deliberate starvation, forced displacement, and large-scale arbitrary detentions, all constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity. Reports have clearly shown that ENDF, EDF, Amhara Special Forces, and FANO militia perpetrated killings of Tigrayan civilians on a massive scale since 3 November 2020.
Continued violations committed by the Eritrean Defense Forces in Tigray before and after the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in November 2022 and the spread of violence across much of the country highlight the scale of impunity. Some Tigray forces are also culpable for war crimes, including killings, widespread rape and sexual violence, destruction of property, and looting. Mass killings, in particular those which predominantly target men and boys perceived to be of fighting age, have disproportionate impacts on different members of the community, especially girls and women, facing them with additional financial and security challenges and leading to more complicated conditions due to looting, destruction of property, and lack of access to humanitarian support.
Children are another group severely impacted by killings. In many instances, either one or both parents have been killed, placing an additional responsibility on older siblings to assume care giving responsibilities. The situation and its long-term psychological impacts are exacerbated by the penetration of sexual violence against children and older persons, while many children have to witness rape of a family member.
Investigations into the prevailing conditions are necessary for sustainable peace and justice in the country by providing a detailed resource to support the fight against impunity in Ethiopia. The Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia was established by the Human Rights Council on 17 December 2021 to conduct extensive and impartial investigations into allegations of violations and abuses of human rights in Ethiopia committed since 3 November 2020 by all parties to the conflict, including the potential gender dimensions of such violations and abuses.
As shown by the Commission, the abuses described above occurred in the context of a non-international armed conflict and amount to violations of relevant provisions and rules of international humanitarian law. The parties to the conflict have failed to distinguish between civilians and fighters at all times and made the civilian population of towns the object of attack, including of killings and rape and other forms of sexual violence. Since many of these violations are ongoing, it is necessary to actively investigate and prosecute crimes committed in Ethiopia to ensure access of civilians to their most basic rights.