The UN Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia concluded war crimes are committed by government forces

Published Sept. 20, 2022, 5:37 p.m. by Daniel Dibaba


After two months of investigation in to the human rights violations in Ethiopia, the UN ad-hoc Commission that was established to investigate human right violation in Ethiopia has concluded the first phase of its investigations. The UN International Commision of Human Right Experts on Ethiopia was establsihed based on a resolution issued by the UN Human Rights Council on December 17, 2021. The UNHRC established a commission of three international experts on human rights to investigate the human rights violations perpetrated in Ethiopia. The group included Kaari Betty Murungi (Kenya), Chair; Steven Ratner (United States of America); Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka).

In its current investigation, the Commission's investigations were limited to violations in Tigray and Amhara regions. The group cited the limitation of resources to conduct full-scale investigations. The report is also released in Amharic, Tigrinya, and English. The UN human rights body has chosen to ignore Oromia, the largest region in Ethiopia, where more persistent and gross human rights violations have been taking place for far longer than in Tigray. Among other things, the group was not receptive to evidence from Oromo sources based on our experience. FNN had submitted human rights abuses committed by the Ethiopian authorities' security forces and its allied forces, but the group has not confirmed receipt of our report nor sought any further evidence from us. It is concerning that the UN body selectively investigated human right abuses only limited to one part of the country and entirely ignored other parts where widespread gross human right violations, including genocide, are occurring. 

In its current investigation, the commission concluded, 

"The Commission finds reasonable grounds to believe that the ENDF, EDF, and Fano
have committed widespread acts of rape and sexual violence against Tigrayan women and
girls. In some instances, the attackers expressed an intent to render the victims infertile and used dehumanising language that suggested an intent to destroy the Tigrayan ethnicity.
Tigrayan Forces have also committed acts of rape and sexual violence, albeit on a smaller

The Commission stated, according to international laws, the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and Eritrean Defense Force (EDF) committed war crimes. The Commision said, 

"Many of the violations described amount to war crimes under
international law governing non-international conflicts. Based on the findings , the
Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that members of the ENDF committed the
following war crimes: violence to life and person, in particular murder; outrages on human
dignity, in particular humiliating or degrading treatment; intentionally directing attacks
against the civilian population and civilian objects; pillage; rape; sexual slavery; sexual
violence; and intentionally using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare. The
Commission has reasonable grounds to believe that Tigrayan forces committed the same
war crimes, except sexual slavery and starvation of civilians as a method of
warfare, regardless of the scale of violations. Regarding the EDF, the Commission finds
reasonable grounds to believe that it committed the war crimes of violence to life and
person, in particular, murder; outrages on human dignity, in particular humiliating or
degrading treatment; rape; sexual slavery; and sexual violence.
The Commission also has reasonable grounds to believe that ENDF members
committed extrajudicial killings, rapes, and sexual violence as part of a widespread attack
directed against the civilian population of Tigray."

In this report, the Commission admitted having the mandate to investigate the atrocities in all parts of Ethiopia and hopes to continue the investigation. The Commission has a one-year renewable mandate. Given that we are in the last week of September with only 3 more months left this year, it is improbable that the Commission will conduct a similar investigation in Oromia in its current term. 

The full report of the commision is attached below.   


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