Statement to the media by the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia: delivered by Commission Chair Kaari Betty Murungi and Commission Member Steven Ratner, Geneva
30 June 2022
Commission Chair Kaari Betty Murungi, Commission Member Steven Ratner
International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the press. We value the opportunity to speak with you. I am joined by co-commissioner Steven Ratner. The Council President appointed the third member of the Commission, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, on 28 June.
Today, we provided an oral update to the Human Rights Council on the work of the Commission, as required under the Council’s resolution S-33/1.After the update, we had an opportunity to interact in dialogue with members of the Council and observers.
As you are aware, the Commission is an independent and impartial entity mandated to conduct investigations to establish the facts and the circumstances surrounding alleged violations and abuses of International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law and International Refugee Law, committed by all parties to the conflict in Ethiopia since 3 November 2020. The Commission is also mandated to provide guidance and technical support on transitional justice including accountability, national reconciliation and healing and recommendations to the Government of Ethiopia.
At a time when the international community is faced with numerous simultaneous conflicts, the world must not look away from the situation in Ethiopia. The on-going spread of violence, fuelled by hate speech and incitement to ethnic-based and gender-based violence, are early warning indicators of further atrocity crimes against innocent civilians, especially women and children. The expanding conflict makes worse the existing humanitarian crisis that is being experienced in Ethiopia and the region. The spread of violence and the dire humanitarian crisis made worse by lack of access by the civilian population to humanitarian assistance including medical and food aid may constitute serious crimes. We appeal to the all parties to the conflict to stop the violence , and urge the Government of Ethiopia to exercise their obligation under international law to bring those responsible for violations to account. The survivors and victims cry for justice. The international community has a responsibility not to turn their back on Ethiopia.
The Commission is alarmed about continuing reports of alleged violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law across the country, with civilians bearing the brunt of the suffering. Just over a week ago, the Commission received reports of the killings of between 200 and 500 civilians in an alleged massacre in Western Oromia, which we are investigating. The continuing violence, and restrictions imposed by various parties, has resulted in a complex humanitarian crisis, which coupled with drought, has exacerbated the misery of millions of Ethiopians and spurred the flight of tens of thousands of others to neighbouring countries.
With respect to investigations, we have assembled our team in Entebbe and investigations have begun – including meetings with victims and first-hand witnesses, analysis of submissions and other materials available to the Commission. We are currently engaging with the Government of Ethiopia, with regard to modalities of engagement including with respect to access to sites of violations for its investigations and to survivors, victims and witnesses.
The Commission intends to build on the work of the Joint Investigation Team ( by OHCHR and The Ethiopian Commission on Human Rights ) and is mindful of the need for complementarity and is awaiting information regarding available material and relevant data from the Joint Investigation Team of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission.
Whilst the work continues, the Commission has appealed for more resources from member states to effectively and efficiently carry out its mandate. Such support includes technical, logistical and financial support.