Ethiopian Foreign Ministry urges African Union to “immediately cease” Commission of inquiry on human rights abuses in Tigray

Ethiopia

(Source: Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs) – 

Press statement on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights measures to investigate alleged violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

It is to be recalled that the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, during the meeting of the African Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), held on 9th March 2021 at the Heads of State and Government level, has clearly expressed its willingness to engage the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to conduct a joint investigation into alleged human rights violations in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia during the law enforcement operation. To that effect, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia held a follow-up discussion with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on the way forward on 11th March 2021 in line with the political guidance from the Chairperson of the AU Peace and Security Council. Accordingly, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission released a statement on the same day appreciating Ethiopia’s initiative and underlining the importance of engaging our own AU treaty bodies. Furthermore, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has written a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia accepting the proposal for a joint investigation. In response, the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic Ethiopia has written back to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights commending its interest to engage and designating a focal institution.

It is, however, regrettable to note that the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights made a unilateral announcement on the establishment of a “Commission of Inquiry” which is completely outside the scope of the invitation by the government and lacks legal basis. While the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic Ethiopia was engaged in good faith to facilitate the necessary conditions for the joint investigation, the unilateral announcement of ACHPR on establishing a “Commission of Inquiry” undermines the cooperative spirit and the ongoing efforts of the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to formalize the modalities of the stated investigation. It is also inconsistent with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as the Rules of Procedure of the Commission itself.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights as an African Union institution has an obligation to engage with member states in constructive and principled partnership. It still has the opportunity to rectify this unfortunate and unhelpful step and engage in good faith in a joint investigation which it has already accepted. Such unhelpful actions by the Commission will not advance the promotion and protection of human and peoples’ rights in the continent and will rather undermine mutual confidence with member states. By choosing to proceed in such a misguided direction, the Commission will only defeat the very purpose it is established for. The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia reiterates its readiness and once again calls upon the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to immediately cease the process it launched which is not acknowledged by Ethiopia and engage with relevant authorities in Ethiopia to finalize the modalities regarding the proposed investigation.

 

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