UN Rights Chief Calls for Investigation on Human Rights Violations in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia

United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has urged for an investigation of human rights violations in the Tigray region of Ethiopia that may amount to war crimes, citing emerging reports.

Bachelet has called for the “urgent need for an objective, independent assessment of the facts” in the situation in Tigray due to “deeply distressing reports of sexual and gender-based violence, extrajudicial killings, widespread destruction and looting of public and private property, as well as reports of continued fighting.

The UN cited reports on the killing of eight protesters by security forces between Feb. 9 and 10 Adigrat, Mekelle, Shire, and Wukro and reports on over 136 cases of rape in hospitals in the same areas between December and January.

“Credible information also continues to emerge about serious violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict in Tigray in November last year,” Bachelet further said in a statement released on March 4.

Bachelet’s office named Ethiopian National Defense Forces, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, Eritrean armed forces, and Amhara Regional Forces and affiliated militia as among the multiple parties that may have committed “serious violations of international law, which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Bachelet has urged the Ethiopian government to grant her office and other independent monitors access to the region for investigation.

“Victims and survivors of these violations must not be denied their rights to the truth and to justice,” Bachelet said.

“Victims and witnesses of human rights violations and abuses must not be hindered from sharing their testimony for fear of reprisals,” Bachelet also said, expressing concerns on the detentions of journalists in Tigray, though they have now been released.

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