The truce reached between Ethiopia’s warring parties marks an “encouraging and bold step” towards peace, the UN rights chief said Thursday, demanding reparations for the brutal conflict’s many victims.
Volker Turk, who took over as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights two weeks ago, said he hoped the breakthrough agreement signed Wednesday would help end the “conflict that has claimed many lives, caused widespread displacement and untold suffering and ruin”.
He particularly welcomed that the deal between the federal government and Tigrayan regional authorities, announced almost exactly two years to the day since the war erupted on November 4, 2020, strongly emphasised human rights.
In a statement, he highlighted that it condemned “sexual and gender-based violence, violence against children, girls, women, and older people” and also its “commitment to implement a comprehensive national transitional justice policy”.
“Consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including victims and civil society, will be crucial in the design of this policy,” he said.
Turk stressed in particular that it was essential to “ensure accountability for gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law”.
“Effective remedies and adequate reparation will be key for victims, and to foster reconciliation and national healing.”
The UN rights chief also stressed the need to keep a keen focus on the situation on the ground to avert further abuses.
“Regular monitoring and reporting are crucial to prevent human rights violations and abuses in all areas affected by hostilities.”
The UN Human Rights Committee, which on Thursday presented conclusions following a recent review of Ethiopia’s record, also hailed the truce.
Committee vice chair Christopher Arif Bulkan told reporters he hoped it would lead to a “considerable improvement” in Ethiopia’s dire rights situation.
The committee of independent experts, which reviewed Ethiopia’s record last month, decried in its conclusions the “serious and widespread human rights violations against civilians by all parties to the conflict in Tigray”.
It called on Ethiopia to investigate all alleged violations, to hold perpetrators accountable and ensure victims “receive full reparations”.
The committee report also urged Ethiopia “to protect freedom of expression”, pointing to harassment, attacks, arbitrary arrests and detention of dissidents, as well as the use of criminal provisions “to silence dissent”.