Ethiopia: One Year After Tigray Peace Deal, Peace Elusive and Atrocities Continue

United Nations human rights experts say that nearly a year since the signing of an agreement to cease hostilities in northern Ethiopia, atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity still occur in the country and peace remains elusive.

In its latest report to the UN Human Rights Council, released on September 19, the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia warns that the situation in the country “remains extremely grave.”

The commission chair, Mohamed Chande Othman, said: “While the signing of the agreement may have mostly silenced the guns, it has not resolved the conflict in the north of the country, particularly in Tigray, nor has it brought about any comprehensive peace.”

In its 21-page report, the commission documents wide-ranging atrocities perpetrated by all parties to the conflict since November 3,  2020. These include mass killings, rape, starvation, destruction of schools and medical facilities, forced displacement and arbitrary detention.

“Violent confrontations are now at a near-national scale, with alarming reports of violations against civilians in the Amhara region and ongoing atrocities in Tigray,” Othman said.

Risks of atrocities

The situation in Oromia, Amhara and other parts of the country – where there are ongoing violations, entrenched impunity and increasing state securitisation – highlights risks of further atrocities and crimes, said Othman.

In its report, the commission confirmed that Eritrean troops and Amhara militia members continue to commit grave violations in Tigray. These include systematic rape and sexual violence targetting women and girls, violating the federal government’s human rights and territorial integrity commitments.

The commission found ongoing patterns of arrest, detention, and torture of civilians committed by government forces in Oromia and has received numerous credible reports of violations against civilians in Amhara since the announcement of a state of emergency in August 2023.

“We cannot overstate the gravity of violations perpetrated in Ethiopia by all parties during the recent conflict,” said Commissioner Radhika Coomaraswamy.

“Especially concerning is that some of these crimes are ongoing, in particular rape and sexual violence against women and girls by Eritrean forces in Tigray.”

Coomaraswamy said that the ongoing presence of Eritrean troops in Ethiopia is a clear sign of an entrenched policy of impunity and continued support for and tolerance of such violations by the federal government in Addis Ababa.

The commission highlighted an “alarming pattern of increased securitisation of the state” through the imposition of states of emergency and the establishment of militarised “command posts” without civilian oversight.

It cited Ethiopia’s announcement of a six-month state of emergency last month, which established a command post system across the Amhara region, with multiple urban centres now under curfew. The commission has received reports of mass arbitrary detention of civilians in Amhara and at least one drone strike carried out by the state.

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