NAIROBI, Kenya — A United Nations human rights panel focusing on Ethiopia says it is alarmed by continued violations and abuses in the East African country.
The Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, set up by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate abuses and rights violations in Ethiopia, has warned that the country is experiencing an escalation violence and a serious humanitarian crisis.
“The subject of our investigation appears to be perpetrated with impunity, even now, by various parties to the conflict,” commission chair Betty Murungi said Thursday. “The commission stresses the responsibility of the Ethiopian government to end these violations on its territory and to bring those responsible to justice.
Murungi noted that “any spread of violence against civilians is an early warning indicator and a precursor to further atrocious crimes.”
The Geneva-based panel is mandated to investigate allegations of violations of international human rights law, humanitarian law and international refugee law since a deadly war broke out in the northern Tigray region. in Ethiopia in November 2020.
The violence, some along ethnic lines, has since spread to other parts of the country, including the Oromia and Amhara regions.
Witnesses recently told the AP that more than 400 ethnic Amhara people were killed in Oromia on June 18, shocking Ethiopians and the international community.
On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Ethiopian prime minister said 338 people are now confirmed to have died in an attack earlier in June in the West Wellega region of Oromia. Billene Seyoum blamed the Oromo Liberation Army, or OLA, for the killings, saying the rebel group controls “pockets of Oromia where they terrorize civilians”.
But an OLA spokesman denied the allegations and said they were carried out by government troops and a local militia. He called for an independent investigation.
The UN human rights commission in Ethiopia is expected to submit a written report to the UN General Assembly later this year.