Ethiopia: Prioritize Victims Amidst Legacy of Rights Abuses, UN Office Urges

The UN human rights office on Thursday urged the Ethiopian Government to ensure that ongoing efforts addressing a legacy of rights abuses, rooted in years of violence and ethnic unrest, prioritize the rights and needs of victims and their families.

A joint report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission emphasized the need to implement all components of transitional justice equally. These include criminal accountability, truth-seeking, reparations, and guarantees of non-recurrence, involving effective remedies for victims, legal reforms, and reconciliation.

One of the recommendations stemming from the November 2022 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, signed between the Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, is the establishment of transitional justice policies. This agreement marked the end of the bloody conflict in Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions.

In 2018, Ethiopia witnessed a surge in human rights violations, marked by killings, torture, and ethnic- and faith-based violence. The situation escalated with the eruption of an armed conflict in the Tigray region in November 2020, claiming thousands of lives and displacing millions.

Ongoing ethnic-based violence in various regions further intensified the crisis, prompting a nationwide state of emergency in August 2023 due to escalating tensions in the Amhara region.

Victim-centred approach critical

Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, welcomed Ethiopia’s steps to develop a national transitional justice policy aligned with the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.

“It is crucial for such efforts to be holistic and consistent with international human rights norms and standards, placing victims and affected populations, especially women and girls, at the centre,” he added.