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News: More than 60 rights orgs appeal to UN members, observer states to reject Ethiopia’s attempt to terminate mandate of UN rights experts

A Tigrayan woman stories who’s a victim of sexual violence tells her story. Photo: UNFPA

Addis Abeba – A group of 63 worldwide human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) have appealed to the permanent representatives of member and observer states of the United Nations Human Rights Council to reject any resolution forwarded by Ethiopia the mandate of the UN’s International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE).

The group’s appeal came in the backdrop of news that Ethiopia has circulated a draft resolution asking for the termination of the rights experts.

“We write to urge your delegations to reject any resolution to prematurely terminate the mandate of ICHREE, and to express your support for the mandate and work of the Commission,” the group’s appeal reads. “The independent mandate and work of ICHREE is crucial to preserve the opportunity for victims of grave international crimes to have access to justice, particularly because of the eroding environment for independent media and human rights monitoring of conflict-affected areas of Ethiopia.”

Calling Ethiopia’s attempt to end ICHREE’s mandate “unprecedented”, the group warned that Ethiopia’s move not only suggest that “states can politically maneuver to overturn the decisions of the Human Rights Council to avoid independent scrutiny and accountability, but it could also set a dangerous precedent regarding international scrutiny and impunity for rights abuses elsewhere.”

Since the onset of ICHREE’s 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.”

Ethiopia’s latest attempt at blocking the ICHREE and its works failed in December last year when its draft resolution requesting the Fifth Committee of the UN General Assembly to not approve any resources 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.

Ethiopia has also asked the United States to support its bid in terminating the mandate.

This week, at the start of the ongoing UN Human Rights Council 52nd Session Addis Standard has published an editorial asking the international community to “unequivocally show support” for the works of both ICHREE and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in conducting independent and comprehensive investigations into the grisly crimes committed against civilians during the two year war that started in the Tigray region and spread to Amhara and Afar regions. AS

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