To: Members of the HRC and Signatory of the Rome statute – Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Benin, Côte d’ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Malawi, Senegal, South Africa, Bangladesh, Maldives, Czechia, Georgia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Romania, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, (https://www.ohchr.org/en/hr-bodies/hrc/members-by-group)
We, the undersigned civic society organizations (CSOs) and the Commission of Inquiry on Tigray Genocide, are deeply concerned about the news of the possible termination of the mandate of the UN HRC International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE), as demanded by the Government of Ethiopian (GoE). We are against the GoEs attempt and need your support to secure the extension of the mandate of ICHREE as the atrocity crimes committed in Tigray are not thoroughly investigated as well as GoE is still committing atrocity crimes all over the country violating international human rights and humanitarian laws.
Though there is encouraging documentation made by the different UN agencies, the US, EU, human right organizations, and international media, the horrific atrocity crimes committed in Tigray are yet to be investigated. The GoE has been denying ICHREE access to the crime scene where Starvation, siege, sexual violence, forced displacements and ethnic cleansings have been used as weapons in addition to destructive military operations that involved indiscriminate artillery attacks and bombardments. Almost all hospitals and clinics, factories were destroyed and public services such as banks, telephone and internet, electricity, and transportation are not fully resumed. Religious sites, educational facilities from kindergarten to universities have been destroyed. Tens of thousands of Ethnic Tigrayans living in other parts of Ethiopia have been ethnically profiled and some are still languishing in concentration camps without justice. GoE has done all these atrocity crimes in collaboration with the Eritrean army and Amhara forces, who still are occupying some territories of Tigray and are hindering unfettered flow of humanitarian aid.
Under the blanket of the cessation of hostilities agreement (CoHA) signed last November, the atrocity crimes are being committed by the Eritrean forces and Amhara forces. HRW has recently disclosed that ethnic cleansing has been committed by Amhara forces in west and south Tigray. Internally displaced Tigrayans and Tigrayan refugees in Sudan couldn’t return to their home due to the occupation and continued ethnic cleansing. The AU monitoring team for CoHA as well as humanitarian agencies were not allowed access to northern territories of Tigray that are under the occupation of Eritrean forces either. The GoE, who has got the responsibility to protect Tigrayans as specified in the CoHA, is not taking the necessary measures either. Tigray and the people of Tigray all over the world have been affected economically, socially, culturally, professionally, and psychologically by the atrocity crimes committed by the order of higher government officials including the Prime minister.
Moreover, GoE is committing atrocity crimes in other parts of the country too. Active war has been going on in the western, southern, south-eastern, and central parts of Oromia with horrific atrocity crimes since 2019. The security situation in the Amhara regional state is worsening, dragging the country to a much worse chaos. Armed conflicts are happening in Benishangul, Gambella, and Somalia regional states. At the same time the GoE is trying to use its diplomatic leverage to terminate the mandate of ICHREE by promoting the green paper for “transitional Justice ”, produced as evidence for GoEs commitment for justice. We are aware of the fact that some member states of the UN HRC are buying the false narrative of GoE’s commitment for justice and accountability to secure the termination of the mandate of ICHREE.
We want to remind you that both ICHREE and the State department have concluded that the Ethiopian government, members of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF) and Amhara forces have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecutions, ethnic cleansing and used starvation as a weapon of war against the people of Tigray. Meanwhile, members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces have been accused of committing war crimes. These conclusions were drawn based on remotely performed investigation processes as the GoE has not allowed independent investigators to enter the crime scenes.
We acknowledge that ICHREE has done a commendable job remotely so far, but still needs more time to collect primary data by visiting war affected areas, performing forensic investigation activities, meeting victims and witnesses of atrocity crimes through independent and impartial investigation. It is not hidden that the establishment and existence of the commission has intimidated the GoE as reflected in Ethiopia’s repeated attempt to hamper the commissions effort of establishing the facts and circumstances surrounding the violations and abuses, identify those responsible and produce a credible report for future accountability efforts. Once again, Ethiopia is trying to end the mandate of ICHREE in September 2023 at the 54th HRC session, with an ultimate purpose of securing impunity which should not be supported by any actor that values “Humanity” and “justice”.
Any outcome in favor of Ethiopia’s wish will mean a defeat of humanity and a victory for those championing atrocity crimes all over the world. It will serve as a motivating factor for perpetrators of atrocity crimes from Ethiopia to Russia, Sudan to Syria and other regions to continue committing atrocity crimes. Supporting authoritarian leaders and covering up their atrocity crimes will downplay the global effort for humanity and make international mechanisms of prevention of such crimes irrelevant. The international community should not promote impunity by fulfilling Ethiopia’s attempt to terminate the mandate of ICHREE.
As a respected member of the UN HRC, we are, therefore, asking you to say no to Ethiopia’s attempt of terminating the mandate of ICHREE as the commission needs more time to fully execute its mandate and as incidences of atrocity crimes are still increasing all over the country. The extension of ICHREE’s mandate is crucial and will remind the GoE that the time for justice and accountability will eventually come with an ongoing independent investigation.
As a signatory of the Rome statute, we ask you to formally request the ICC to open an investigation of atrocity crimes committed in Ethiopia by taking the gravity of the crime, the interests of victims and infirmity of the alleged perpetrator” into consideration. We want you to say “HUMANITY shall MATTER” for all and defend it by:
- Supporting the extension of the mandate of ICHREE, and
- Demand ICC to open investigations against perpetrators of atrocity crimes.
We believe that as the highest responsible safeguard of humanity, members of the UN HRC will not submit to GoE’s attempt to terminate the mandate of ICHREE while it failed to abide by the IHRL to protect human rights and the humanitarian crises in the country continue deteriorating at an alarming rate. By doing so you are sending a clear message not only to Ethiopia but also to other perpetrators of atrocity crimes that humanity matters wherever and there are consequences for violating that.
“Without justice there will be no sustainable peace.” There will be no Justice without a thorough independent and impartial investigation either. Therefore- we call up on you to stand by ICHREE and “support the extension of its mandate”.
1. Alliance of Civic Society Organizations of Tigray (ACSOT) – Ethiopia
2. Australia Alliance Tigray – Australia
3. Global society of Tigrayan scholars and professionals (GSTS) – Global
4. Health Professional Network for Tigray (HPN4Tigray) – USA
5. Human Right First – Ethiopia
6. JIRRA Permanent humanitarian fund for Oromos – Australia
7. Legacy Tigray – USA
8. Mekete Tigray – UK
9. Sebhidri International Civic Society (SICS) – Global
10. Security and Justice for Tigrayans (SJT) – USA
11. Solidarity of Tigrayans for independence and Liberty (SIMRET) – Global
12. Tigrayan Advocacy & Development Association (TADA) – UK
13. Tigray American Impact Fund (TAIF) – USA
14. Tigray Community Association in South Africa
15. Tigray Community in Angola
16. Tigray Community in Djibouti
17. Tigray Community in Egypt
18. Tigray Community in Ghana
19. Tigray Community in Ivory Coast
20. Tigray Community in Kenya
21. Tigray Community in the Kingdom of Lesotho
22. Tigray Community in the Kingdom of Eswatini
23. Tigray Community in Liberia
24. Tigray Community in Malawi
25. Tigray Community in Rwanda
26. Tigray Community in Sierra Leone
27. Tigray Community in Sudan
28. Tigray Community in South Sudan
29. Tigray Community in Tanzania
30. Tigray Community in Uganda
31. Tigray Community in Zambia
32. Tigray Human right advocacy network (THRAN) – Ethiopia
33. The Commission of Inquiry on Tigray Genocide – Ethiopia
34. Tigray Global Advocacy Group (TGAG) – Ethiopia, Europe, USA and UK
35. Tigray mothers Relief and Rehabilitation (TMRR)
36. Tigray Youth Network (TYN) – UK
37. Union of Tigrayans in Europe (UTE) – Europe
- Tigrayans Association in Germany
- Tigrayans Association in Sweden
- Tigrayans Association in the Netherlands
- Tigrayans Association in Belgium
- Tigrayans Association in Norway
- Tigrayans Association in Italy
- Tigrayans Association in Switzerland
- Tigrayans Association in France
- Tigrayans Community in Finland
- Tigrayans Community in Austria
- Tigrayans Women Associations in Europe
- Tigrayans Youth Associations in Europe
38. United Tegaru Canada – Canada