“That’s our goal: to get unimpeded access for our team,” Steven Ratner, a member of this new international commission of experts, told AFP. He was “cautiously optimistic” about a visit to Addis. Abeba during the second half of July.

The commission was set up on December 17 by the UN Human Rights Council for a period of one year, renewable if necessary, with the objective of investigating violations committed by all parties since that war broke out in November 2020.

Presenting a brief account of the setting up of the mission, its president, the Kenyan lawyer Kaari Betty Murungi, insisted on the lack of means which limits them in their work, but has already indicated that the commission “is alarmed” that violations of human rights, international humanitarian law and refugee rights “appear to be perpetrated with impunity, even today, by various parties to the conflict in Ethiopia”.

“The commission insists on the responsibility of the Ethiopian government to put an end to these violations on its territory and to bring those responsible to justice,” she said in Geneva.

“We are extremely alarmed by the atrocities that continue to be committed against civilians, including the events reported in the Oromia region. Any violence against civilians, fueled by hate speech and incitement to ethnic and gender-based violence, is an early warning indicator and a prelude to further heinous crimes,” she warned.

– Page turned? –

The conflict in Tigray (northern Ethiopia), which then spread to the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, was marked by numerous abuses on each side. In a joint investigation with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, the UN has already concluded at the end of 2021 to possible crimes against humanity committed by all actors.

The fighting has ceased since March, thanks to a “humanitarian” truce decided by Addis Ababa and accepted by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). And Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed spoke for the first time in mid-June of possible future peace negotiations.

In Geneva, the UN commission was able to meet the Ethiopian Minister of Justice and senior government officials in Geneva in May, and obtained the right to visit Addis Ababa. “We welcome the cooperation of the government”, welcomed Kaari Betty Murungi, hoping that these consultations would allow investigators access to the places where human rights violations occurred, as well as to survivors, victims and witnesses.

Although having rejected the creation of the commission, judging it in particular “counter-productive”, Ethiopia “has started discussions” with the experts “in accordance with its policy of cooperation with international mechanisms for the defense of human rights. man,” Ethiopian Ambassador to the UN Zenebe Kebede Korcho said Thursday in Geneva.

And to ensure: “if the serious reservations of Ethiopia with regard to the resolution are taken into account, it is possible to find practical means of reaching a common approach”.

“The country is turning a page and the government wants to end the conflict peacefully,” he said.