The Government of Ethiopia condemns sexual violence in all circumstances and including in situations of conflict and has a zero-tolerance policy. The Government of Ethiopia has previously issued statements acknowledging that there have been some instances in which during the course of the conflict in the Tigray Regional State, some members of the armed forces have engaged in conduct that is contrary to the clear rules of engagement and direction they have been given. Such illegal conduct included instances of sexual violence and taking this into account the Government had taken steps to ensure accountability and will continue with these measures with a view to bringing to justice the perpetrators of sexual violence. The Government of Ethiopia is fully cognizant of the physical, social, and psychological impact of sexual violence and had been in collaboration with the Interim Administration of the Tigray Regional State trying to provide psychosocial services to alleviate the trauma caused by such regrettable incidents in conflict situations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has noted the latest ‘report’ by Amnesty International alleging serious violations of international humanitarian law, including rape and other sexual violence. The report concluded that “…overwhelming evidence it has collected showing that Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers and members of allied militia are responsible for a pattern of rape and other forms of sexual violence”. It also refers to ‘…1,288 cases of sexual violence from February to April 2021…’ and ‘…376 cases of rape committed from the beginning of the conflict to 9 June 2021’ as well as ‘…sexual slavery in Tigray Regional State of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’. This is primarily based on information that is said to be gathered between March and June 2021 by interviewing 63 women and girl survivors and from information said to be gathered from health facilities which are also alleged to be destroyed in the ‘report’. The ‘report’ also refers to alleged ‘rape of several women while trying to cross the border to the Sudan and sexual slavery’ on accounts of 3 individuals (women) and information from 12 individuals, respectively.
Amnesty’s report is based on a flawed methodology and relies heavily on interviews conducted in refugee camps in the Sudan and remote interviews facilitated by ‘community workers.’ For everyone familiar with the modus operandi of the terrorist TPLF, the identity of these ‘community workers’ is no great mystery. Furthermore, after interviewing 63 individuals, Amnesty reaches sweeping and far-reaching conclusions that could hardly be supported by the limited and remote ‘investigation’ it claims to have conducted. Amnesty’s investigation when considering the seriousness of the conclusions of the report, including allegations that the highest level of Government has ‘tolerated’ sexual violence, seems scanty and decidedly lacking in rigor.
As has been the case, in some of its previous reports, Amnesty International seems bent on engaging in sensationalized attacks and smear campaigns against the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The Government of Ethiopia had already expressed its concerns about the impartiality and professionalism of some of the personnel within the Amnesty East African Office. The current report reinforces those apprehensions. We also find it curious that the Amnesty report fails to recognize the joint investigation being conducted by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Instead, the Amnesty report in its recommendation recommends that organs of the UN including the Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council give a platform for the so-called Commission of Inquiry that is being conducted remotely and interviews at ‘refugee camps’ in Sudan where the perpetrators of the Maikadra massacre and a large contingent of the TPLF militia are stationed. These recommendations contradict the political motivations and biases that inform such reports that try to weaponize human rights as a means to meddle in countries that refuse to be dictated by various interests.
The continued attacks and confrontation by the remnants of the terrorist TPLF group in the Tigray Regional State and neighboring Regional States (Amhara Regional State and Afar Regional State) has created serious difficulty in apprehending the criminals and bringing them to justice. It has also made the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure and restoration of basic services; and delivery of humanitarian assistance to people of concern in the Tigray Regional State of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia a much difficult task.
The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia remains firmly committed to ensure accountability to the alleged serious humanitarian and human rights violations. The current joint investigation by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is expected to contribute to this endeavor by the Government, particularly in bringing perpetrators accountable.
Ensuring the protection and security of our nationals remains of utmost importance to the Government of Ethiopia. Going forward, the Government will further strengthen its efforts to comprehensively respond to the humanitarian situation with the same rigor of ensuring the protection and security of its nationals. In collaboration with relevant actors, it will redouble its efforts to provide the necessary life-saving humanitarian assistance. It will also take concrete measures to ensure the sustainable repatriation and reintegration of the displaced.