Urges prohibition of amnesty
The State of Emergency declared by Ethiopia last August is incompatible with the ongoing transitional justice initiative, according to a report co-authored by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
In their joint statement released on October 11, the EHRC and OHCHR provided recommendations for Ethiopia to adopt a transitional justice policy that aligns with human rights concerns.
The report emphasizes the need to assess the principles of legality, necessity, and proportionality of the state of emergency to prevent any adverse impact on the transitional justice process.
It states, “The State of Emergency is incompatible with the spirit and rationale of any Transitional Justice process and its imposition in any part of the country should be assessed.”
Eight months ago, the federal government initiated a working group at the Ministry of Justice to finalize a transitional justice policy aimed at addressing past human rights violations.
The implementation of this policy is expected to commence soon, as confirmed by the working group.
However, following the resurgence of conflicts between the federal government and armed groups in the Amhara region, the government declared a state of emergency last August, primarily targeted at the Amhara region but enforced across the entire country, as it fits.
Nevertheless, the EHRC and OHCHR view the state of emergency as an obstacle to the transitional justice initiative.
The Working Group engaged in dedicated consultations with various stakeholders, including public representatives, media personnel, government officials, former prosecutors and judges involved in “Red Terror” cases, national and international experts on transitional justice, political parties, and refugees residing within the country.
The Group has also planned to organize specialized consultations with Ethiopian refugees in neighboring countries, with the support of the UN. These consultations are scheduled to take place prior to the drafting of the transitional justice policy.
The joint statement also emphasizes the necessity for the transitional justice policy to explicitly prohibit amnesties for international crimes and gross human rights violations.
This is particularly relevant to address the accountability of Eritrean forces, who have been accused of a wide range of human rights violations during the conflict in northern Ethiopia.
Security concerns in Amhara, Oromia, Benishangul, and other areas also pose additional obstacles to the implementation of the transitional justice initiative. The joint report further urges the Working Group to periodically disclose its progress to the public.
It suggests, “To ensure transparency in the development process of the transitional justice policy, it would be advisable for the Working Group to publish the report on the outcomes of the public consultations, which will serve as the basis for the drafting of the transitional justice policy document.”
While the Working Group has conducted nearly 50 public consultations to gather relevant inputs for the ratification of the transitional justice policy, it has regrettably not yet publicized these efforts.