Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Experts on the situation of human rights in Ethiopia
Organisation: Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW)
Speaker: Claire Denman
Thank you, Mr President,
Our full statement will be available on the extranet.
CSW thanks the Commission for its balanced report and its persistence, despite limited co-operation from the Ethiopian government and UN entities operating in Ethiopia, as well as constraints on manpower and other resources.
We concur that there are reasonable grounds to believe violations committed in Ethiopia since November 2020 amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity in several instances.
We also agree that all sides to the conflict have, to differing extents, attacked civilians indiscriminately.
As the Commission rightly points out, the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) and allied forces are responsible for “widespread and egregious acts of rape and sexual violence against Tigrayans throughout the course of the conflict”, while Tigrayan forces have committed the same crimes, albeit on a smaller scale, targeting Amhara civilians and Eritrean refugees.
The ENDF and its allies have also used starvation as a weapon of war, as well as air and drone strikes on civilian structures, including hospitals, displaced persons camps, educational establishments and markets.
We concur that many of the indicators in the 2014 UN Framework for Analysis of Atrocity Crimes are currently present in Ethiopia.
With regard to further investigating the intent behind the violations, we contend that documented inciting and dehumanising hate speech by Ethiopian officials and testimony from victims of sexual violence that assailants spoke of ‘cleansing’ their bloodlines, coupled with the finding that the Ethiopian government implemented “measures designed to systematically deprive the population of Tigray of material and services indispensable for its survival” already point to deliberate efforts to systematically destroy a people group.
We also contend that the conflict in Tigray is the realisation of a long-held vendetta by the Eritrean president, who has recently thrown all available forces into a full-scale offensive, even as Eritrea continues to hold a seat on this Council.
We agree that outstanding areas of research include the appalling violence in Oromia, and plight of vulnerable Eritrean refugees, who have been killed, raped, refouled and forcibly recruited into the Eritrean army, and have suffered retaliation by elements within Tigray for violations committed by Eritrean forces.
We echo the recommendation that the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development, the African Union Peace and Security Council, and UN Security Council should not only place the situation in Ethiopia on their agendas, but also act urgently to restore peace, stability and security to the region.
Finally, we reiterate that Eritrea’s human rights situation has proven to be a threat to regional peace and security, and should immediately be referred to the International Criminal Court, in line with the 2016 recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea (COIE).