First Edition: 6th of April 2021 Second Edition: 19th of September 2021
This report documents and examines the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) role in the war in Tigray. Through its investigation of public sources (e.g., videos, reports, etc.), this document showcases that the EHRC lacks the impartiality and independence needed to lead and conduct an investigation into the alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide being perpetrated in Tigray. Moreover, preliminary indicators witness that the ongoing joint investigation is hijacked and flawed in its selection of crime sites. OHCHR has been forced to fire its Tigrayan employees at the request of EHRC.
The report presents ample evidence that the EHRC has been engaged in pro-government efforts; and it has been employing tactics that have contributed to the unrestrained ethnic polarization in Ethiopia. These issues have manifested in EHRC’s reporting, as it has repeatedly released biased information on human rights violations in Ethiopia while also tactfully downplaying the grave humanitarian crises and war crimes perpetrated in Tigray. Additionally, reports from the EHRC have proved to be inconsistent and partisan. More specifically, the EHRC has selectively highlighted cases that are believed to serve the government’s narrative while also modulating the atrocities and consequences of the war in Tigray until they were reported by other human rights agencies.
The EHRC is not only effectively serving the interest of the Federal Government of Ethiopia but also that of the Amhara regional government, which is one of the main actors involved in instigating and perpetuating the war in Tigray. In its reports about Western Tigray, the EHRC has failed to confirm that Tigrayans have been ethnically cleansed from the area, despite mounting evidence, including that presented by the US Department of State. By quoting government officials, it rather attempted to cover up forced displacements and concentration camps suggesting that Tigrayans consented to being transported to “chosen destinations”. Sadly, the EHRC is working in support of the Ethiopian Federal and Amhara regional governments that vehemently reject the ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans that has been taking place in Western and Southern Tigray.
Although, many reports and videos have shown that Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) members have been killing civilians and raping women and girls, the EHRC is quoting a member of the ENDF to claim that ENDF was working lawfully and ethically. Additionally, aligned with the federal government’s claims, the EHRC report quotes the interim government in Tigray and insinuates attribution to the sexual and gender-based violence to prisoners who escaped following the war. On the contrary, statistical evidence shows that 89% of the rapes have been perpetrated by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers, and Amhara militia. In doing so, the EHRC is defeating the whole purpose of an impartial investigation as it is seeking information from and collaborating with the alleged perpetrators.
These affiliations and partisan tendencies are critical impediments to the independent and impartial investigation concerning war crimes, crimes against humanity and the probable occurrence of genocide in Tigray. Given these concerns, we strongly urge that the UN reverses its decision to conduct a joint investigation with the EHRC into the human rights violations and abuses in the context of the war in Tigray. Furthermore, we call on the UN-OHCHR to conduct an independent investigation of the gamut of crimes committed in Tigray. Neglecting to do so
would discount the UN’s commitments to human rights, deny much-deserved justice to millions of victims, threaten the well-being of millions of people and have a lasting corrosive effect on the UN’s standing and global legitimacy.