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UN-mandated investigation into atrocities in Ethiopia to end

By Eve Brennan, CNN

October 5, 2023

Armed actors continue to commit atrocities in parts of Ethiopia's Tigray region almost a year after warring parties agreed to a truce. | EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP/AFP via Getty Images

(CNN) — A UN-mandated investigation into human rights abuses in Ethiopia will come to an end next week despite ongoing atrocities in the region.

None of the parties to the mandate asked for it to be extended by Wednesday’s deadline, according to UN Human Rights Council spokesperson Pascal Sim.

The mandate of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia was created in 2021 after a motion submitted by the European Union. It will now officially conclude after October 13, 2023, Sim told CNN.

It comes after the commission released a report on Tuesday, warning of the continued risk of human rights atrocities in Ethiopia and emphasizing the urgent need for ongoing independent investigations into the country’s human rights situation.

Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region was plunged into war in November 2020 as government forces clashed with rebels, resulting in widespread atrocities perpetrated by all sides.

The Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front signed a peace agreement, known as the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, in November last year and seemed to end the brutal conflict. But a year later, atrocities continue in parts of the Tigray region, the commission’s report says.

Proponents of another mandate appear to have been put off by opposition from African states, diplomats said, according to Reuters. The mandate was renewed last year only by a small margin, Reuters said.

‘A devastating blow’

Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that the European Union and its members have backtracked on their support for scrutiny of the human rights situation in Ethiopia.

Tirana Hassan, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement: “For the numerous victims of atrocities in Ethiopia who placed their hopes in the commission, this is a devastating blow.”

An EU spokesperson told CNN on Thursday that “justice and accountability are clear conditions for gradual normalization of relations with Ethiopia,” adding that European nations had not reached a consensus on bringing forward a resolution for a new mandate.

Ethiopia has always opposed the UN-mandated investigation and has tried to curtail in the past, arguing that its own national justice policies provided sufficient avenues to conduct any inquiry, Reuters reported. The UN commission says this approach was “deeply flawed,” Reuters said.

Asked for comment on Wednesday, Ethiopian government spokesperson Legesse Tulu responded by text message: “This is the end of (ICHREE’s) history (in) Ethiopia.”

He later added: “There is no need to talk about a dead end.”

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