News: Eritrean forces commit “war crimes, possible crimes against humanity” in Tigray months after peace truce – Amnesty International

Eritrean forces in Shire town, January 2023 (Photo: Haphtom Berhe)

Addis Abeba – Soldiers from Eritrea continued to commit war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in Ethiopia’s Tigray region after a ceasefire agreement was signed between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces last November, according to a new report published today by Amnesty International.

The report documents extrajudicial killings, rape, sexual slavery and pillaging by Eritrean troops in the months following the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) on 02 November, 2022. The atrocities occurred primarily in the districts of Kokob Tsibah and Mariam Shewito near the Eritrean border.

Amnesty bases its report on 49 remote interviews with survivors, witnesses and officials who identified EDF soldiers through their uniforms, language and interrogation methods.  The victims said they were targeted due to suspected links to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

In the Kokob Tsbah district, north of Adigrat city, Amnesty interviewed 11 women reporting sexual slavery and gang rape by EDF soldiers inside military camps for nearly three months following the agreement. Four survivors described enduring continuous rape after being detained in a camp with 14 other women, allegedly for suspected ties to Tigrayan forces.

Another witness named Bezawit, a mother of two, said she was repeatedly raped by EDF troops occupying her home who threatened  “no one will rescue you.”

In Mariam Shewito district, north-east of the city of Adwa, between late October and early November, Amnesty documented the alleged extrajudicial execution by EDF soldiers of at least 20 civilian men during house-to-house raids, including a 70-year-old priest shot dead in a church.

Amnesty considers these alleged crimes as war crimes and possible crimes against humanity under international law, while also reporting looting of civilian property by EDF troops.

“Despite the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, atrocities against civilians in Tigray continued with Eritrean soldiers subjecting women to horrific abuse including rape, gang rape and sexual enslavement, while civilian men were extrajudicially executed,” said Amnesty’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Tigere Chagutah.

In light of ongoing allegations of human rights abuses and lack of accountability, Amnesty International called for the renewal of the UN’s International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia. It also urged the resumption of the African Commission’s investigation into Tigray which was terminated in June 2022 before a final report was published.

Both the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments were contacted regarding the report but have not responded as of publication. The organizations say investigations into violations of international law must be prompt and effective to ensure justice for victims.

On Monday, Addis Standard reported despite the signing of the Pretoria Peace Deal in November 2022, Eritrean forces continue to engage in abductions of civilians and sexual violence in the northeastern part of the Tigray region, particularly in the Irob woreda. Officials have reported that over 28 youths have been abducted in this area in the past ten months. AS

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