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Ethiopia refutes ICHREE’s ‘substandard, politically motivated’ report

Addis Ababa, September 22, 2023 (FBC) – Ethiopia categorically rejected a “substandard and politicized” report presented by the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) during the 54th Session of the Human Rights Council interactive dialogue held on 21 Sep 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland.

In his statement at the 54th Session of the Human Rights Council under Agenda Item 4: Interactive Dialogue with ICHREE, Ambassador Tsegab Kebebew, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the UN in Geneva and other international organizations in Switzerland, reminded that since the signing of the Pretoria Peace Agreement, Ethiopia has redoubled its efforts to consolidate peace in the country. “We have been using peaceful avenues to settle differences. We have taken measures to ensure accountability and redress for violations of human rights.”

“However, we noted with profound regret that ICHREE has not shown any inclination to recognize the tremendous progress registered in Ethiopia in the silencing of guns – following the African Union-led and Ethiopian-owned peace process,” he underscored.

According to Ambassador Tsegab, ICHREE’s report and findings – which had been compiled based on highly questionable methodological approaches and from very remote locations, have grossly mischaracterized the positive and widely acclaimed political developments in Ethiopia.

He strongly rebuked ICHREE’s report that it also contradicts the findings of the investigation conducted on the ground through the joint enterprise of the OHCHR and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.

It is not surprising that ICHREE has produced yet another substandard and political report, the Ambassador reminded. “After rejecting the Ethiopian Government’s offer to cooperate, ICHREE has opted to make political assessments on matters far beyond its competence. It engaged in increased inflammatory rhetoric. It has the temerity to suggest that some armed elements have support from communities,” he disclosed.

Further reminding that ICHREE was mandated to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into allegations of violations of human rights committed in the context of the conflict in north Ethiopia, Ambassador Tsegab said that it failed to adduce evidence that meets internationally accepted standards. For the greater part, it relied on social media commentaries and partisan comments offered by asylum seekers in two neighbouring countries. “With obvious motivations, ICHREE’s report falls short of the guidance provided by the Council for mandate holders.”

Speaking on the current state of affairs in his country, the Ambassador asserted that Ethiopia issued a State of Emergency on 4 August 2023 for a limited duration to restore law and order and protect civilians. “ICHREE echoed negative and largely unsubstantiated commentaries that appeared on social media. The State of Emergency is monitored by a parliament-established Inquiry Board. The Board ensures that any force used must be necessary, proportionate, and not abused, and respects human rights standards,” said Tsegab.

The Permanent Representative noted that Ethiopia has also provided and facilitated lifesaving humanitarian assistance and ensured unhindered access for humanitarian actors to support people affected by the conflict.

He also shed lights on Ethiopia’s nationwide consultations on options for the transitional justice policy in the country. But, Ambassador Tsegab is adamant that ICHREE’s report cannot undermine this unprecedented national process, saying that the consultative process has been participatory and supported by OHCHR and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission to ensure that it meets international standards.

Tsegab further disclosed that there have also been consultations with civil society, including with women’s rights associations and renowned international experts.

Once the transitional justice policy is finalized and adopted in the coming few weeks, it is expected to comprehensively address all the alleged serious human rights violations, he mentioned.

“As a preventive mechanism, at the invitation of Ethiopia, both the OHCHR and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission have deployed human rights monitors in the conflict-affected areas. Any findings from this deployment will be used by the government to take corrective and remedial measures,” he underscored.

Moreover, the Permanent Representative further recalled that the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has recognized these developments in Ethiopia and terminated the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on the Human Rights Situation in Ethiopia.

According to him, the implementation of the transitional justice policy will certainly use all available and credible information to ensure accountability, truth-telling, healing, and reconciliation in the country.

Amb. Tsegab asked the Council that the ICHREE must hand over any relevant information to OHCHR for a potential examination by national bodies in the implementation of the transitional justice policy as the Commission’s mandate terminates with this final report,.

He assured that Ethiopia will have the opportunity to update the Council on relevant development through the UPR process, stating that Ethiopia looks forward to continuing working with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the OHCHR office in Addis Ababa in the implementation of the transitional justice policy.

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