A Call to the UN Human Rights Council to Extend the ICHREE’s Mandate and Provide Additional Resourcing
In September 2022, the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) is scheduled to present a written report to the UN Human Rights Council, quickly following their first update to the body on June 30, 2022.
In this update, the ICHREE laid out a number of challenges, including but not limited to: insufficient access to victims and witnesses, lack of access to Tigray and other regions across Ethiopia, lack of sufficient resources, including funding and staffing, and the need to narrow investigations to “certain emblematic incidents” due to time constraints. Chairperson Kaari Betty Murungi notes, “I will be frank and say that if this Council expects us to achieve what it requested last December, we need more resources. We appeal to member states for technical (including individuals with relevant expertise), logistical and financial support.”
From July 25-30, 2022, the three representatives of the ICHREE then visited Ethiopia to discuss “modalities for cooperation, including its interpretation of its mandate….” After their trip, they released a statement hoping that “the government will provide it with unhindered access without delay, so that it may visit sites and speak freely and privately with survivors, witnesses, and other persons of interest.” This indicates that access to evidence remains difficult, which raises concerns regarding the quality of the report due in September–particularly in its legitimacy and comprehensiveness in its findings and recommendations. Given the time constraints, we are also concerned about using the flawed report of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and its materials as a basis for this new investigation to “avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.”
All this considered, we strongly call upon the UN Human Rights Council to extend the ICHREE’s mandate for at least one more year and increase its funding, staffing, and technical resources so that they may more comprehensively investigate human rights violations in Tigray and across Ethiopia concerning the ongoing conflict. With the extension of the mandate, we then recommend that the ICHREE establish a working relationship with the Government of Tigray, the appointed Commission of Inquiry into Tigray Genocide (CITG), and Tigrayan civil society organizations in and out of the region for access to victims and key evidence.
Secondly, we urge the UN Human Rights Council and international partners to employ all political tools to demand unfettered access to Tigray and across Ethiopia. Previous reports have been written where investigators were not allowed in the locations where atrocities took place, and the quality of the investigation was clearly hindered. Given the security, geopolitical and reconciliation stakes involved in Ethiopia, this is not a risk we can afford to take.
Moreover, the ICHREE also has a mandate to provide “guidance and recommendations on technical assistance to the Government of Ethiopia on transitional justice, including accountability, reconciliation, and healing.” Increased resourcing should be provided to support in the creation and implementation of these recommendations to drive peace and accountability in Ethiopia. Some of which include:
- International oversight, as the Ethiopian government has not shown interest in providing “transitional justice.” It must be noted that all previous recommendations supplied by human rights organizations and international governmental bodies to ensure accountability and healing for Tigrayans have overwhelmingly been ignored by the Ethiopian government. Promises of alleviating civilian suffering and restoring necessities to the people of Tigray have yet to actualize.
- A criminal investigation to hold perpetrators accountable under the court of law.
- Support for the Ethiopian government, the Tigrayan government, and other parties to the conflict in holding a national dialogue and establishing a process for reconciliation to ensure these atrocities are not repeated.
Over the past two years, too many people have suffered at the hands of the Ethiopian government, and it’s still not over. The genocide in Tigray continues unabated through a devastating siege on the region, and human rights violations continue to occur across the rest of the country. Victims deserve justice. The people of Ethiopia deserve peace. Accountability plays a significant role in the peace process, and it’s, therefore, in the international community’s best interest to help create the conditions for a quality investigation that meets international standards. Should the mandate get extended for at least one year and additional resources provided, we firmly believe the ICHREE’s investigation will significantly advance healing, dialogue, and sustainable peace.
- Omna Tigray
- Irob Anina Civil Society
- Health Professionals Network for Tigray
- Legacy Tigray
- United Tegaru Canada
- Tigray Center for Information and Communication
- Solidarity of Nations
- Security and Justice for Tigrayans
- DEKNA Foundation
- Stand With Tigray
Omna Tigray – Press Release, August 02, 2022