Commission ‘Closely Monitoring’ Human Rights Violations in Tigray

ADDIS ABEBA – The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said on Saturday it is monitoring the human rights violation in the northern region of Ethiopia closely.

The government ordered the federal army to militarily engage with the Tigray regional paramilitary police and militia loyal to the TPLF following their attack on the federal army’s Northern Command based in Mekelle and other military camps.

EHRC “is monitoring closely and is in consultation with the relevant authorities regarding the risk of multidimensional human rights violations arising from the ongoing war in Tigray Region”, it said in a statement.

Officials of EHRC have also provided recommendations which they are pertinent to the safety and security of civilians not taking part in the conflict.

Making sure that civilians are getting humanitarian assistance and access to basic services including food, medicine and similar necessities and access to medical care for those wounded or sick during the conflict, according to EHRC’s statement.

It also pinpointed on the need to rehabilitate victims and affected areas, displaced persons and provide the appropriate humanitarian assistance to the large number of refugees in the area.

EHRC has called for the immediate creation of an humanitarian Assistance Desk at the level of the Ethiopian Defense Force and various government levels, among others.

Probing violations

EHRC reiterated its previous stand regarding the need for human rights to be respected during situations of armed conflict.

“Armed persons taking part in the conflict have the responsibility to protect civilians,” the rights agency said, adding that its experts will look into any human rights abuses.

The rights agency’s statement came five days after scores of civilians have been stabbed or hacked to death in Mai-Kadra town of Tigray Region.

The EHRC said it has already dispatched a verification team to Maykadra to investigate and gather more evidence although Amnesty confirmed the massacre.

The Team “will also investigate any other human rights abuses wherever they might occur,” EHRC said. “It will strive to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable”.

The rights agency also said it is closely monitoring the situation of persons detained since the start of the military operations last week.

‘Massacre Could be a War Crime’

On Friday, the UN Human Rights Commissioner issued a warning that reports of mass killings in Ethiopia, would, if verified, amount to war crimes.

Speaking in Geneva, Michelle Bachelet called for a full investigation and said those responsible must be held accountable.

TPLF officials have denied eyewitness and Amnesty’s reports that its forces carried out the killings.

Bachelet said the first priority must be ending the fighting. The UN fears the conflict could spiral out of control and even spread across Ethiopia’s borders.

Featured Image: Head of EHRC Dr. Daniel Bekele [Photo File]