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News: Rights groups raise deep concern over US backtracking on Ethiopia human right violations commitment

Displaced people from Western Tigray stand outside a school where they are sheltering in Mekele, Ethiopia, February 24, 2021 (Photo: HRW/Getty Images)

Addis Abeba – Prominent human rights organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have expressed serious concerns regarding the United States government’s recent position of disbelief regarding the continued prevalence of gross human rights violations in Ethiopia.

Two days ago, the US Treasury Department notified Congress that, based on an assessment by the State Department, they no longer believe the Ethiopian government is engaged in a “pattern of gross violations of human rights.” This announcement paves the way for discussions between the Treasury Department and economic aid institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, concerning Ethiopia.

This development aligns with Washington’s efforts to restore its relations with Ethiopia following a peace agreement signed in Pretoria last November, effectively bringing an end to the conflict in Tigray.

In a joint statement, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International however, contend that this decision not only disregards the ongoing and serious human rights abuses throughout the country but also sends a detrimental message about the limited significance of the US’s evaluation of atrocities.

Sarah Yager, the Washington Director at Human Rights Watch, stated, “We’re deeply concerned that the US government no longer believes that gross violations of human rights are occurring in Ethiopia. Not only does the decision ignore the reality that grave human rights violations are continuing throughout the country, but it sends a disastrous signal that US atrocity determinations come with few consequences.”

Amnesty International also shares a similar sentiment. Amanda Klasing, the National Director for Government Relations and Advocacy at Amnesty International USA, said, “The Biden administration purports to put human rights at the center of its foreign policy; yet, their declaration that gross violations of human rights are no longer occurring flies in the face of this promise. To make such a determination before we’ve seen commitment to justice and accountability, and while reports of violations are ongoing, would be a politically expedient decision at the expense of survivors and victims.”

On 01 June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report revealing that ethnic cleansing, human rights abuses and forcibly expelling Tigrayans from Western Tigray persists despite the November 02, 2022 peace agreement and urged the federal government to suspend, investigate, and appropriately prosecute commanders and officials implicated in serious rights abuses.

 Earlier in March, the US determined that members of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Forces and Amhara forces have committed “crimes against humanity” in the Tigray region, whereas all sides have committed “war crimes” during Ethiopia’s two years war that started in Tigray and spread to Amhara and Afar regions. AS

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