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News: Ethiopia asks US support to terminate mandate of UN Human Rights Experts

From left: Mohamed Chande Othman, ICHREE Chairperson, Radhika Coomaraswamy and Steven Ratner, members

Addis Abeba – Ethiopia has asked the United States to support its “bid in terminating the mandate” of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE).

This was stated during a courtesy call by Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson, Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, to Ambassador Mesganu Arga, State Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on 02 February, according to the Ministry. During the discussion, Ambassador Misganu “commended the US for its support for the AU-led Pretoria Peace Deal between the Ethiopian Government and the TPLF,” and stated that the government is “fully committed to implementing the terms of the Peace Deal.” He called on the United States to provide support for the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.

“Reiterating Ethiopia’s commitment to address the issues of human rights violations via the Transitional Justice System, Ambassador Mesganu asked the United States to support Ethiopia’s bid in terminating the mandate of the highly politicized International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia,” MoFA’s dispatch reads.

IN December last year, Ethiopia’s draft resolution requesting the Fifth Committee of the UN General Assembly to not approve any resources for the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) was rejected by a vote of 71 against 32 in favor, whereas 50 members states abstained the vote.

It was the second failed attempt by Ethiopia to have UN’s General Assembly to defund resources for the UN rights experts who were appointed by the UN to investigate war-related human rights abuses in Ethiopia. After its opposition to the formation of ICHREE, in April last year, the Ethiopian government voted to block the U.N. funding for it, unsuccessfully.

It is recalled that ICHREE’s first report to the UN Human Rights Council presented in September last year on its initial findings of Ethiopia’s war covering “the hostilities in Tigray and Amhara regions,concluded that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that violations, such as extrajudicial killings, rape, sexual violence, and starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare have been committed in Ethiopia since 3 November 2020,” and that there were “reasonable grounds to believe that, in several instances, these violations amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

However, since the onset of its establishment by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council on 17 December 2021, Ethiopia insisted it was established for a political purposes and has had uneasy relationship with it, once accusing it of having “weaponized human rights for political pressure.”

The US government and the EU however continued insisting on accountability for human rights violations and abuses as well as implementation of transitional justice as part of the full implementation of the Pretoria CoHA. On 22 December, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the US was focused on making sure that it can “get independent human rights monitors into Tigray to verify that there are no ongoing atrocities, even as we’re looking for accountability for what’s already taken place.”

During the latest US State Department press briefing held yesterday, Ned Price, Department Spokesperson, said that the US commends the parties for their commitment to the cessation of hostilities agreement and encourage continued implementation, “including ensuring the protection of civilians through international human rights monitoring, as well as following through on accountability for human rights abuses and transitional justice.” AS

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