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Violations against civilians committed by all parties to the conflict: EHRC

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Human rights violation that can be stated as war crimes and crimes against humanity has been committed by the parties of the conflict stated Ethiopia Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in its latest report Violations of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in Afar and Amhara Regions conducted between September and December 2021. The commission also stressed strong commitment of all actors indispensable to obtain justice for victims and rehabilitation of areas affected by the conflict.
The report released on Friday March 11, 2022 provides a detailed account of widespread human rights violations against civilians committed by parties to the conflict including its gender dimensions and calls on all actors and institutions to support justice and redress initiatives for victims and the rehabilitation of conflict affected areas.
According to the Commission’s main findings ‘without including the extrajudicial killings, at least 403 civilians have died and 309 have suffered minor to serious physical injuries as a result of acts of violence in the context of the conflict’.
On August 4, 2021 Tigray forces killed 107 civilians and injured 35 civilians in an offensive in the Afar region, the report states.
In parts of Afar and Amhara Regions covered by this investigation, at least 346 civilians have been subjected to unlawful and extra-judicial killing by parties to the conflict – mainly by Tigray Forces, according to the report.
Between August 18 to September 4, 2021, 6 civilians died in Adigagra, Abreham and Adagat kebeles in Amhara region due to the result of Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) heavy artillery. And in Woldiya city on December 18, 2021 due to attack by the ENDF 6 civilians were killed and 4 other were injured.
Between August 30 to September 4, 2021 and on December 2, 2021 Tigray forces committed 47 unlawful killing and other 40 civilians were killed by shooting who were attending a funeral in Amhara region.
In December 2021 ENDF executed 39 individual accusing them as members of the OLF in Amhara region Oromia special zone.
Tigray forces are also accused of committing acts of torture and other forms of cruel inhuman treatments against civilians.
Parties in the conflict are also accused of engaging in arbitrary detentions, abductions, and forced disappearances in violation of human rights and humanitarian laws.
Tigray forces also committed widespread 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.
Tigray forces further caused damage and distraction to civilian homes, education, health and public administration facilities.
In Afar and Amhara regions, a total of 2,409 health facilities including hospitals and health posts have ceased operation as a result of the destruction, damage and pillage they sustained. In addition a total of 1,090 schools were fully destroyed while 3,220 sustained partial damage in both regions.
Financial institutions, in particular 18 commercial banks, sustained billions of birr worth loss due to looting and destruction on 346 branches.
In areas which were under their control, OLF-Shane also committed targeted killings of government officials and their family members and civilians they accused of supporting the government.
ENDF, Amhara Special Forces, Fano and other militias also committed unlawful and extrajudicial killing and caused physical injuries to civilians they suspected of supporting Tigray Forces or OLF-Shane.
EHRC’s 29-member team of investigators conducted investigations in many parts of Afar and Amhara regions affected by the conflict, covering over 50 locations in both regions and limited investigation of air raids took place in some parts of Tigray region.
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.
The main objectives of the investigation are to provide a faithful account of the human rights violations against civilians committed by all parties to the conflict, including its gender dimensions; to contribute to the process of holding perpetrators to account; to advocate for justice and redress for victims and survivors; as well as to prevent recurrence of similar violations.
Therefore the commission called for an impartial and credible criminal investigation consistent with applicable international human rights standards to ensure accountability. EHRC has reiterated that ensuring accountability for all violations committed by all parties to the conflict lies primarily with the Government.

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