Government of Ethiopia response to the US determination of grave crimes.

Government of Ethiopia response to the US determination of grave crimes.

The US State Department has issued a statement determining that certain grave crimes were committed during the conflict in northern Ethiopia. Considering the Report of the Joint Investigation by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN-OHCHR), this statement does not contain new findings.

The Government of Ethiopia does not accept the blanket condemnations contained in the statement and does not see any value in such a unilateral and adversarial approach.

The statement is selective as it unfairly apportions blame among different parties in the conflict. For no apparent reason, the statement appears to exonerate one party from certain allegations of human rights violations such as rape and other forms of sexual violence despite the clear and overwhelming evidence about its culpability.

The statement is untimely. It is coming shortly after the launching of national consultations on options for a transitional justice policy. One of the pillars of transitional justice policy is accountability. This foresees that there will be further investigations into allegations of the kinds of crimes the statement alleges. These investigations will consolidate those undertaken by the Inter-Ministerial Taskforce implementing the recommendations of the EHRC-OHCHR Joint Investigation. It thus prejudices these national efforts to thoroughly investigate allegations, whoever is the culprit.  

The US statement is inflammatory. Whatever the intentions of the US State Department, this statement will be used to advance highly polarized campaigns pitting one community against others in the country. This partisan and divisive approach from the US is ill-advised. As Ethiopia is implementing the Peace Agreement, such apportioning of blame is unwarranted and undercuts the support of the US for an inclusive peace process in Ethiopia.

The visit of the US Secretary of State gave hope that the two countries are poised to mend their bilateral relations. The Government of Ethiopia hopes that despite the US’s statement, the frank discussions held and understanding reached during the Secretary of State’s visit to Ethiopia will help restore the strategic relations between Ethiopia and the United States.

The Government of Ethiopia will continue implementing all measures of accountability, including finalizing the nationwide consultation on transitional justice and ensuring that justice is done for all victims. Friends of Ethiopia are welcome to constructively support this process.

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