AU rights watchdog terminates inquiry into northern Ethiopia war abuses allegations

The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR), a specialized African Union agency has terminated its inquiry into allegations of abuses during the northern Ethiopia war. 

The Gambia based commission, a quasi-judicial body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and collecting people’s rights throughout the African continent made the decision to terminate northern Ethiopia war abuses inquiry last May, but its decision came to light only this week. 

The information about ACHPR’s decision surfaced on Monday during an online zoom meeting held to coincide with the launch of a new report by a coalition of regional and international civil society organizations evaluating the progress of the nine months old African Union brokered Pretoria peace agreement. 

The Ethiopian government and the TPLF which control most parts of the northernmost Tigray region signed two main peace deals in November 2022. 

The peace deals include details among other are restoration of law and order, withdrawal of foreign and non-Ethiopia army forces from Tigray region, disarmament of Tigrayan combatants, restoration of basic services as well as facilitation of unhindered access to humanitarian supplies.

The termination of ACHPR’s inquiry into allegations of abuses during the northern Ethiopia war apparently under pressure from the Ethiopian government leaves the UN established International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) as the only remaining international commission of enquiry. 

In June 2021, the ACHPR announced a “Commission of Inquiry on Tigray” had commenced work.

The Commission of Inquiry has a mandate to investigate allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, and to gather all relevant information so as to determine whether allegations of abuses in the northern Ethiopia war constitute serious and massive violations of human rights, according to ACHPR statement at that time.

The Ethiopian government is currently campaigning for the ICHREE’s mandate not to be renewed for third straight year when its mandate extension vote is expected to happen either in late September or early October 2023 at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

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