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UN Committee against torture publishes findings on Ethiopia

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The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) on Friday, May 12, 2023 issued its findings on Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg and Slovakia after reviewing the six States parties in the latest session.

The findings contain the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations on each country’s implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

On Ethiopia, the committee said that it was disturbed by reports of summary executions, deliberate attacks on civilian populations, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment.
“While welcoming the signing of the Permanent Cessation of Hostilities Agreement between the Ethiopian Federal Government and the TPLF in November 2022, the Committee expressed its deep concern about the alleged extensive violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee laws, including in Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions against civilians, in particular ethnic Tigrayans, human rights defenders, dissenting journalists and protesters. The Committee was disturbed by reports of summary executions, deliberate attacks on civilian populations, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary and prolonged detention without charges and judicial process, incommunicado detention in unofficial facilities or military centres, recruitment and use of children in the hostilities, conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking in persons, denial of access to humanitarian assistance and the destruction of civilian property by all parties to the conflict. It urged Ethiopia to investigate all alleged violations, especially those that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed in the conflict in Tigray and surrounding areas. The Committee further asked Ethiopia to ensure full and unconditional humanitarian access to all conflict-affected areas,” the report reads.

CAT further states “The Committee was gravely concerned about complaints of torture and ill-treatment by police officers, prison guards and other military and security forces members in police stations, detention centres, federal prisons, military bases and in unofficial or secret detention places. It also noted with concern that there is still no independent, effective and confidential mechanism to handle complaints of torture or ill-treatment in detention facilities and that existing investigation bodies lack the necessary independence. The Committee requested that the State party take measures to ensure all complaints of torture and ill-treatment are investigated by an independent body and that the suspected perpetrators and the superior officers responsible for ordering or tolerating these acts are duly tried and punished.”

The committee also recommended Ethiopia should continue to develop and implement mandatory initial and in-service training programmes to ensure that all public officials, in particular law enforcement officers, military personnel, judicial officials, prison staff, immigration personnel and others who may be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of persons subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment, are well acquainted with the provisions of the Convention, especially the absolute prohibition of torture, and that they are fully aware that breaches will not be tolerated and will be investigated and that those responsible will be prosecuted and, on conviction, appropriately punished

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