An international human rights body focused on Ethiopia has voiced deep concerns over the worsening security situation in the northwest of the country, particularly in the Amhara region.
On 4 August, the Ethiopian Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency in the region after, according to media reports, the regional leader said he was no longer able to contain a surge of violence between a local militia and the army over a disputed plan to absorb the regional security forces into the national army.
The International Commission of Human Rights Experts took note of the declaration of the state of emergency, adding that it required approval by the House of Peoples’ Representatives, as per the Ethiopian Constitution.
“Previous states of emergency have been accompanied by violations of human rights,” the Commission said in a statement on Thursday.
“[We] therefore urge the Government to strictly adhere to the principles of necessity, proportionality, and non-discrimination in accordance with its international legal obligations under Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
The Commission also called on all sides to respect human rights and take steps to deescalate the situation and prioritize efforts towards a peaceful resolution of differences.
Amhara cannot bear another conflict
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, raised an alarm over the humanitarian situation in Amhara.
“The people of Amhara cannot bear another conflict. WHO calls on all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities and return to talks,” he said at a regular press briefing in Geneva on Wednesday.
According to WHO, almost two million people are in need of health assistance, and the situation is made more complex by the influx of refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Sudan.
The International Commission
The International Commission was established by the UN Human Rights Council in December 2021 to conduct an impartial investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international refugee law in Ethiopia committed since 3 November 2020, which marked the start of the conflict in Tigray.
The Commission’s mandate was most recently extended for a period of one year, until December 2023.
The body comprises three human rights experts appointed by the President of the HRC. The current members of the body are Mohamed Chande Othman (Tanzania, Chair); Steven Ratner (United States of America); and Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka).