Addis Ababa March 11/2022/ENA/ The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) revealed that at least 346 civilians have been subjected to unlawful and extrajudicial killing by parties to the conflict, mainly by the terrorist TPLF.
In its report on Violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in Afar and Amhara Regions of Ethiopia issued today, EHRC stated that the information and evidence it gathered strongly also indicate a calculated and systematic use of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) for warfare by the terrorist group.
The commission conducted the investigation between September and December 2021.
The report, which provides a detailed account of widespread human rights violations against civilians committed by parties to the conflict including its gender dimensions, calls on all actors and institutions to support justice and redress initiatives for victims and the rehabilitation of conflict affected areas.
According to the report, the 29-member EHRC team of investigators conducted investigations in many parts of Afar and Amhara regions affected by the conflict, covering over 50 locations in both regions.
In Afar region, the investigation covered several areas in Fenti Resu, Kilbety Resu and Awesi Resu Zones.
Similarly, in Amhara region, the geographic scope of the investigation extended to North Gondar, North Wollo, South Wollo, North Shoa and Oromo Administrative Zones, it said.
The investigation team conducted 427 confidential interviews and held 136 meetings with various government offices and authorities. It also conducted 12 focus group discussions with religious leaders, community elders, and internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Interviews conducted include those with victims and survivors, their family members, residents, witnesses, health professionals, aid organizations and civic societies. The investigation mission also collected documentary information and evidence from relevant government and non-government sources.
The report added that because the war was conducted largely in towns and rural areas with dense civilian populations, a significant number of civilians have died, suffered physical and psychological injuries as well as sexual and gender-based violence as a direct result of acts of violence committed by parties to the conflict.
The findings show parties to the conflict carried out indiscriminate attacks on civilians, who were vulnerable, in particular women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.
The attacks on civilians were committed in violation of the principles of distinction, necessity, precaution, and proportionality.
By using civilians as human shields, conducting military operations from civilian homes and in urban areas, the parties have caused civilian deaths, physical injuries, and property destruction. Without including the extrajudicial killings, at least 403 civilians have died and 309 suffered minor to serious physical injuries as a result of acts of violence in the context of the conflict.
“In parts of Afar and Amhara regions covered by this investigation, at least 346 civilians have been subjected to unlawful and extrajudicial killing by parties to the conflict – mainly by Tigray forces,” the report said.
Moreover, the report indicated that “in areas which were under their control, OLF-Shane (another group designated terrorist by the House of People’s Representatives) also committed targeted killings of government officials and their family members, and civilians they accused of supporting the government.”
Terrorist TPLF committed widespread, cruel, and systematic sexual and gender-based violence, including gang rape against women of different ages-girls and elderly women in parts of Afar and Amhara regions under their control, it added.
TPLF committed these acts of sexual and gender-based violence to demoralize, dehumanize and punish communities; often indiscriminately and sometimes in a targeted manner.
“The attacks were often perpetrated in a premeditated and cruel manner, including through gang rape, rape in front of family members of victims/survivors, and insertion of foreign objects into the vagina. Often times, these acts were committed with the knowledge of military commanders and officials of the Tigray forces who, despite pleas from communities under their control, failed to take the necessary and reasonable measures to stop violations and hold perpetrators to account.”
The terrorist TPLF also committed acts of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment against civilians they accused of refusing to hand over cash or to disclose information, of refusing to handover private weapons, or other similar accusations.
The widespread nature of the human rights violations detailed in the report and the large number of civilian populations affected also demonstrated that the task should not be left solely to the criminal justice apparatus.
Accordingly, relevant national and international institutions should coordinate support to the government in rehabilitation and resumption of health, education and other public facilities and services as well as relief services to IDPs and conflict affected populations.