UN Hopeful Rights Abuses Will Cease With Tigray-Ethiopian Truce

The U.N. Human Rights Committee welcomes the truce between the Ethiopian government and Tigray People’s Liberation Front, saying it should improve the human rights situation in that embattled region. The committee concluded a three-week examination Friday of six countries, including Ethiopia. 

The committee, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, issued its final observations this week. The 18-member panel called for investigations into allegations of widespread human rights violations against civilians by all parties to the conflict in Tigray and parts of Afar and Amhara in northern Ethiopia.

Committee Vice-Chair Christopher Arif Bulkan said members of the panel agreed those found guilty of crimes should be prosecuted and punished, and victims should receive full reparations for their suffering and losses.

“The Committee urged Ethiopia to protect freedom of expression, citing harassment, attacks, arbitrary arrests, and detentions of dissidents, as well as the use of criminal provisions to silence dissent,” he said. “It also notes unjustified and prolonged internet and phone shutdowns and requests that all such restrictions be legal, proportional and independently overseen.” 

Bulkan said women and children were the main victims of severe human rights violations. He noted state agents were not the only perpetrators of this abuse. He said militias and competing ethnic groups also were guilty of these crimes.

“The scale of the violence was very disheartening and tragic — involving women, involving children, militarization of children,” he said. :So, news of the truce is extremely welcome, and conceivably, it should impact positively because it was in the context of the war that so many of these abuses, we observed were abuses of many covenant rights.”

These include the right to life, the prohibition against torture, and guarantees and protection of civil and political rights, including freedom of expression, assembly, and association.

Bulkan said there will be considerable improvement in the human rights situation in Ethiopia if the peace agreement between the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front holds, removing the impetus behind these violations.

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