Ethiopia has rejected the United Nations Human Right Council (UNHRC) investigation request to independently assess human right abuses and the death toll that resulted from protest in various parts of Ethiopia.
Suspicion over the genuineness of government reports on the number of causalities in the January protest and huge discrepancies on the number causalities in the recent protests in several parts of Oromia and Amhara regional states is the basis that prompted the UN body for an independent investigation.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad Al Hussein told international media outlets on Wednesday that he had not seen any genuine attempt from the Government of Ethiopia in investigation and accountability since January when the killings of protesters first began.
Information on the reported killings has been difficult to obtain, Raad said.
The use of live ammunition against protesters in Oromia and Amhara concerns the UN body Raad said also urging the Government of Ethiopia to immediately release detainees who were peacefully protesting.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, (EHRC), however, investigated the five-month civil resistance in Oromia and Amhara regional states and presented its report in June to the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR).
The EHRC in its report to the House declared that security measures taken against protesters in Oromia were proportional. According to this report, which is still not public, puts the number of deaths in Oromia at 173 including 28 security personnel and government officials.
Contrary to its report in Oromia, the Commission has declared usage of excessive force against the protest in Amhara. The US-based Human Rights Watch, however, said security forces have killed more than 400 protesters in Oromia. Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN human rights office, however, said widely different estimates of death toll and detainees needs to be investigated independently.
According to reports the UN would not take a huge team, specifying the need to speak to witnesses, visit hospitals and interview security forces to build a picture of what happened through credible and cross-verified testimony.
The Reporter attempted to verify the government’s position from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), however, Taye Asketselasie State Minister of MoFA declined to comment.
Nonetheless, Getachew Reda minister of Government Communications Affairs Office, in his interview with Aljazeera, rejected UNHRC’s plea for an independent investigation.
“The UNHRC is not required to send its investigation team since the UN already had a massive presence in Ethiopia,” he said.
He also said the UN is entitled to its opinion but the Government of Ethiopia is responsible for the safety of its own people.
Thus, the government would launch its own investigation into whether security forces had used excessive force and would do so in consultation with local people.
Internationally isolated Eritrea and Ethiopia’s arch-foe was the only nation indentified with such denial to human right observers.