Impunity- a plague for human rights protection in Ethiopia

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Yonas Mebrahtu/Germany

On April 18, 2017, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, the rubber-stamp institution backed and sponsored by the Ethiopian Government, has released a report on Ethiopian protest started since the late of 2015. According to this latest report, 669 people have been killed and close to 1000 people are injured during the Anti-government protest in Ethiopia since August 2016.Though the commission admitted that the protesters in Oromia, some parts of Amhara and Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) region had a legitimate cause, the reaction from the security forces, it insolently stated, that took the life of hundreds, were mostly proportional, lawful and necessary. Similarly, in June 2016, the commission in its first oral report to the Ethiopian parliament has contentiously described the measures taken by the security forces as proportional in a clear contrast to the hitherto Report by Human rights watch that condemned the excessive use of force by the police and caused the death more than 400 people. In an effrontery claim, the Commission blame opposition political groups both in Ethiopia and abroad such as Oromo Federalist Congress, Oromo Liberation front(OLF), and, the Oromia Media Network- (foreign-based Media outlet) for the public demonstrations in Oromia region and the casualties thereafter.

Ab ovo, the credibility, and reliability of the reports from the Ethiopian Human Human rights commission are questionable due to its poor track record and its extreme allegiance to the government, which eventually plagued its impartiality. In a stark contrast to the report by the Ethiopian human rights commission, the number of death toll and other casualties during the protest, which still continues under the smokescreen of a state of Emergency, is by far higher than the stated number (669) according to various ocular evidence and credible reports from international human rights institutions. Abysmally, the commission has implicitly denied other allegations such as torture, harassment, arbitrary arrest and other grave and systematic human rights violations committed during the protest.

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Recently, in an interview with BBC, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has blatantly rejected the proposal for international inquiry by UN and EU alleging that Ethiopia has an independent institution although the independence and impartiality of the Ethiopian Human rights commission has long before contested. In several occasions, including the well documented Gambella massacre of 2003 & 2004 and the war crime in Somali regional state, the commission has failed to investigate the allegations impartially. So far Ethiopia has never been accused under international forum nor has been prosecuted her official in the international criminal tribunal for serious crimes. In an unsuccessful attempt, the indictment by Anuak Justice Council against the Ethiopian Government before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ rights on Gambella case rendered inadmissible due to the requirement of exhaustion of local remedy and Ethiopian government’s claim to investigate the matter domestically. Nevertheless, so far no comprehensive investigation on Gambella case has been conducted nor have been prosecuted perpetrators properly in local courts. The culture of impunity posed a perverted challenge on human right protection in Ethiopia.

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Provided that ensuring the protection and promotion of Human rights is one of the most important mandates of the United Nations by virtue of the UN Charter and of the ongoing crisis in Ethiopia, I hereby call the UN to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to open the door for the international inquiry on the protest. Particularly the UN human rights council shall appoint a ‘Special rapporteur on Ethiopia’ mandated with investigation and examination of the human rights violations committed during the Ethiopian protest. Nothing can justify the establishment of special rapporteur by the UN except the horrendous situation and gross and systematic human rights violation akin to crimes against humanity committed in Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s membership to the Security Council as well as to the Human Rights Council is at odd with the raison d’être of the UN Charter and of the UN itself.

Ethiopia as a party to various human rights instruments (ICCPR.ICESCR and CAT) entailed an obligation to respect and protect human rights including investigation and prosecution of crimes committed in Ethiopia. Yet the government has explicitly and repeatedly failed to discharge its obligation and refused to cooperate with international human rights bodies. Encouraged by the silence of the international community, the government continues to commit serious crimes that fall under the Rome statute with impunity. By doing so, Ethiopia remains unwilling and in fact unable to prosecute criminals in domestic court. It is, therefore, timely and urgent for the Security Council, as mandated by the Rome statute, to pass a resolution to set a motion on the prosecution of dictators of the Ethiopian government before the international criminal court.

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Last, as an appeal to Ethiopians, the dire situation in Ethiopia is compelling for Ethiopians inside and abroad to cooperate and put pressure on UN and EU to take strong measures against the Ethiopian government. Using their intellectual clout, Ethiopians in diasporas, in particular, are expected to play a decisive role in this regard, provided that willing to reconcile their paltry differences. Moreover, they can support and cooperate with non-governmental organizations the likes of Anuak Justice Council to bring allegations before international Human rights bodies.

E-mail-reachyonas@gmail.com
April 2017

1 Comment

  1. Who is this Mebrahtu? I have read a part of the commission’s report and for most part I found it to be plausible. It has hit both ways and as hard as the circumstances would allow it. It has asked the regime to bring those overzealous government security forces that had used excessive force in dealing with the protests. That is commendable. A rubber stamp outfit does not do that. What a rubber stamp commission usually does is shed crocodile tears for those who lost their lives and limbs but it would blame the opposition entirely for what took place. Is this writer one of those Isaias operatives? If so, I wish they leave us alone. Those who benefited from being the inner circle or those attached to them have a a lucrative stake in the existence of the regime itself. Once their administration is gone, their privilege is also gone. As being extremely intelligent individuals they understand that very well. Therefore, they will use any trick or when they fell like it, they will use incomparable force to deal with the opposition. We know that and the entire world knows that. That is a dead giveaway. But during the raging protest we all know what other living in the Diaspora were also doing. They graduated themselves as ‘fearless’ leaders of this or that liberation front/movement on Facebook, Twitter and other media outlets and were pressing the youth of that country to march into a waiting inferno. They were even tried to use this very esteemed website to plan and launch a stranglehold embargo on the innocent citizens of the capital Addis/Finfine. I profusely protested and the dear editors of this website really proved their farsightedness and removed the call. Jawar was all over the US media justifying the stoning of transportation vehicles and burning down of factories. Well, those kids went out in rage and stoned everything on 4 wheels and in the process an innocent American scholar was stoned to death. Now I have to live with this stigma that Oromos stone cars and passengers. I have been living with another stigma that Oromos kill Christians since OLF murdered innocent peasants in cold blood in the 1990’s. I am sick and tired of such undeserved stigma. Young and old were cut down by the regime forces on one side and innocent civilians were stoned to death in cars and trucks and while they were at it factories that were the only way of making a living for thousands were torched to the ground. The parents and their relatives were left with tears flowing, the regime henchmen collected their hefty rewards and those who were inciting and urging the youth to march into a waiting inferno from their comfy homes here in the West went back to negotiating for higher salaries from their mysteriously funded media outlets. Folks, do you see now the predicament the youth of that country is living with? It is a gut wrenching one to behold. It is being pulled in all directions by daily proliferating groups who are at odds with each other. Millions have been and still being panhandled in its name from generous ‘orphanages’ in Cairo, Riyadh. Doha and ‘Piccola Roma’ Asmara in the process making some of these opposition leaders millionaires. The youth of that country has become the bread and fortune maker for wise alecks on both sides. A section of it has been effectively used as well versed cadres by the regime, part of it has been snatched out of the arms of their mothers by equally brute smugglers and whatever left is being pulled in all directions by shrewd leaders of so-called opposition groups. It has been extremely easy to incite a youth like in the old country. It has done everything it was told. It has gone to schools for years including college. It has degree of this or that under its belt but its living condition is not going anywhere except down. It sees those ‘connected’ moving up. Now it is seething with anger. It has lived with such wretched living standard for years. If that is not enough, now, now, someone is telling his/her entire village to go somewhere because the land is an eminent domain. Now he/she is going to be homeless. That was how everyone saw the master plan. And there is another peculiarity it sees. When it goes to restaurants, hotels, airports and other visible higher positions at various ministries, it hears the owners and those officials speaking one language that is not Amharic or Oromifaa. Now that boils his/her blood. Now the youth has turned a smoldering fire and become susceptible to be taken for a ride by those with a hidden agenda be it to carve out a territory to call their own fiefdom or become the next despots. It is really a very sad predicament for the youth of that country.

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