By Addis Moges

Recent reports indicate that the efforts by the government of Ethiopia to jeopardize investigations of atrocities in the war conducted between Tigray and the federal government along its allies.  According to Reuters both sides blamed each other for widely-documented atrocities, including massacres, rape and detentions without trial.  Addis Ababa has opposed the investigation from the outset, calling it politically motivated and trying to block funding. The campaign against the independent probe in the war-stricken region has something undiscovered which lead to imagine the extent of the atrocities and rights violations.

The undue desperation of people, who have severely harmed due to the unessential bloodshed in the past two solid years in the northern Ethiopia, is whether the peace deal will be accompanied by justice or not. These voiceless victims need an independent investigation that could fairly bring out all the atrocities and evils executed upon them.

Debretsion Gebremichel (PhD), Chairman of Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), has also of the same stand. He emphasized that Tigray authorities want the United Nations Human Rights Council to “continue the investigation” that have started by the group of experts.

Following the peace pact, the anticipations of the people, mainly in Tigray, parts of Afar and Amhara regions who severely worn out by the bloody war is to have justice through an independent investigation.  In a joint Advisory Note and Key Findings stemming from Community Consultations on Transitional Justice to inform the development of a Transitional Justice Policy Framework for Ethiopia, EHRC/OHCHR displayed that participants in Afar, Amhara, Harar, Oromia and Somali regions  “expressed discomfort with purely State-led processes and institutions, and suggested the establishment of an independent, impartial, credible, and autonomous national institution to lead the truth-seeking and telling exercise”. The people argue that those who caused all the muddles could, by no means, be fair investigators of what they themselves had committed.

However, the Ethiopian government has continued closing its doors for investigations. Rather, it has been insisting on lobbying the African countries and the USA to lend hands in revoking nonaligned investigations.

DPM and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonon urgrd African countries to support Ethiopia’s request for the dissolution of the UN independent team emphasizing that “the group hinders the agreement reached in Pretoria and prevents its implementation”. He made vivid that Ethiopia will “not allow the independent investigative team to enter and work in the country”.  This announcement has come amidst questions posed by the people, different countries including Germany, France and the United States to allow an impartial investigation team that could reveal the truth on the ground to have proper transitional justice.

EHRC/OHCHR indicated that truth-seeking is one of the major components of Transitional Justice.  “TJ comprises four interrelated and mutually reinforcing components: truth-seeking and telling, accountability, reparation for victims, avoiding repetition through institutional reform”. 

Therefore, there is no justice without truth, neither is an enduring peace without justice. The only mechanism to treat victims of the massive and serious human rights violations and the horrendous atrocities fairly is allowing an impartial body to explore the reality.  Nevertheless, the government has been working to engulf the responsibility of investigating the crimes and begging the support of USA in mandate termination of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE), which vividly indicates government’s reiteration to accomplish its commitment in addressing human rights violations via an independent body. Previously, it  presented its draft resolution requesting the 5th Committee of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to refrain from providing any kind of resource to ICHREE, which was rejected by the majority vote.

The findings of ICHREE first report  presented last September confirmed that “there were reasonable grounds to believe extrajudicial killings, rape, sexual violence, and starvation of the civilian population as a means of warfare.   However, the government seems crazy about hijacking the mandate of the international independent investigation team. Putting aside the study, it keeps on cloaked transitional justice, which is placing the cart before the horse. No justice can be ensured without having the truth and the reality cannot be divulged without impartial investigation. 

However, the US and the EU countries remained firm on their stand for having an independent investigation team. Officials from Germany, France and the USA have recommended for independent human rights monitor in conflict torn areas to verify the dreadful carnages.     HRW has also urged the international community to persuade  the warring parties in Ethiopia to allow an independent investigation team into the war-affected areas as well as EHRC has also advised the government to allow an independent rights monitors to all war affected areas to have an accurate investigation and then transitional justice.

In fact, the question of transitional justice, therefore, has become the matter of contention since the breaking out of the bloody war.  The people anticipated justice to be handled in line with the agreed peace document and the constitution with wisdom, trust and responsibility.  In doing so, investigation is the prior task that has to be accomplished by an independent team, neither by the federal government nor by Tigray authorities. In a nutshell, there should be an independent investigation team that able to conduct profound research in those war-torn areas particularly in Tigray and present its findings to all concerned bodies to make proper handling of transitional justice possible and give a room to avoid political, economic and social perils during the transition period.

To sum up, the government must put its boot on the right foot and give up lobbying countries to jeopardize revealing of the truth by independent investigation team and open its door for investigation so that all the crimes would be identified and documented properly and the extent of the atrocities, human rights violations and crimes committed up on those people will be identified.

If the reality on the ground is once explored, fixing the convenient approach and carrying out transitional justice would be possible. Neither the government nor Tigray authorities are mandated to handle the investigation and realize transitional justice. It would be better off if the investigation is conducted at the first instance by an independent international investigation team that could find all the atrocities and then move to implement transitional justice. Hence, the government has to give up working to hide the atrocities closing its door to neutrals investigation amidst the indisputability revealing out all the crimes before talking about transitional justice.  

It is crucial to bring out all the happenings in those conflict stricken areas and victims must at least recompensated  and then become part of the peace negotiations apart the political deals of officials The war against Tigray was witnessed by different media that it a regional war in which the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) allied with Eritrean Army, along with Somalia, formed a tripartite alliance on 27 January 2020 that lasted for two solid years has indefinite unseen and unrevealed barbaric massacre and rights violations which need international independent team to find all out for better reconciliation and justice.

By aiga