OHCHR / HRC ETHIOPIA

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17-Dec-2021 00:05:37
At a special session of the Human Rights Council, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif encourage all parties to the Ethiopian conflict to “pull back from a posture of war and, for the sake of the lives and human rights of Ethiopia's people, to immediately end hostilities without pre-conditions.” UNTV CH

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STORY: OHCHR / HRC ETHIOPIA
TRT: 5:37
SOURCE: UNTV CH
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LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 17 DECEMBER 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

17 DECEMBER 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, Human Rights Council
2. Med shot, Dais with photographer
3. Med shot, Dais with camera and participants
4. Wide shot, Dais with camera and participants
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“The Council will recall that the report of the Joint Investigation on Tigray, issued by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and our Office on 3 November, found that all parties to the conflict – including the Ethiopian National Defence Forces, Tigrayan Forces and Eritrean Defence forces – had committed, to varying degrees, human rights violations and abuses, as well as violations of international humanitarian law and refugee law. Some of the incidents investigated could potentially amount to international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
6. Wide shot, photographer
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“Meanwhile, the conflict has continued, with ongoing fighting beyond the borders of Tigray. Our Office continues to receive credible reports of severe human rights violations and abuses by all parties.”
8. Med shot, photographers and participants
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“The lack of access has been compounded by harassment of humanitarian workers, including NGO workers, accompanied by widespread anti-humanitarian rhetoric. Attacks against medical facilities and other essential civilian structures are extremely troubling.”
10. Med shot, Dais
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“The nationwide state of emergency announced on 2 November is leading to significant human rights concerns, on a very broad scale. Notably, the state of emergency authorises the arrest, search and detention of anyone suspected of supporting the Tigray People's Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Army, designated ‘terrorist groups’ in May 2021. This excessively broad provision has led to mass arrests and detentions of thousands of Ethiopians, including United Nations staff, and, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 14 journalists. Most of those arrested are ethnic Tigrayans.”
12. Wide shot, photographers and participants
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“While some of those arrested over the past six weeks have been released, we estimate that between 5,000 and 7,000 remain detained, including nine UN staff members. Many are detained incommunicado or in unknown locations. This is tantamount to enforced disappearance, and a matter of very grave concern.”
14. Med shot, Dais
15. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“Access by independent monitors has been a major challenge. Reportedly, many have been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment and extreme overcrowding, in addition to their prolonged detention without charge, access to lawyers or any other form of due process.”
16. Wide shot, dais
17. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“I also deplore increasing hate speech and incitement to violence by federal and regional authorities, as well as other public figures, particularly targeted against Tigrayans and members of the Oromo community. Like the nation-wide sweeps, house arrests and raids, this rhetoric – in public speeches, broadcasting and social media, including Facebook and Twitter – intensifies a climate of fear. The risk of increasing hatred, violence and discrimination is very high and could escalate into generalized violence. This could have major implications, not only for millions of people in Ethiopia, but also across the region.”
18. Med shot, videographer
19. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“Humanitarian workers must urgently be permitted rapid, safe and unimpeded passage to assist all civilians in need in Tigray and other conflict-affected areas.”
20. Close up, Ethiopia seat
21. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“I encourage all parties to pull back from a posture of war and, for the sake of the lives and human rights of Ethiopia's people, to immediately end hostilities without pre-conditions.”
22. Wide shot, dais and photographer
23. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“Notably, all people detained under the state of emergency must continue to be treated fully consistently with international standards, including knowledge of the grounds of detention, as well as of any charges against them, and prompt and fair trial. Independent monitors, including the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, should be permitted access to all detention facilities.”
24. Med shot, participants
25. SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“The onus is on the State to discharge its primary responsibility to deliver fair and independent proceedings that address the full range of violations identified – not only isolated individual instances – and to take into consideration applicable command responsibility. Without significant accountability efforts, an international mechanism could be an important complement.”

STORYLINE:

At a special session of the Human Rights Council, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif encourage all parties to the Ethiopian conflict to “pull back from a posture of war and, for the sake of the lives and human rights of Ethiopia's people, to immediately end hostilities without pre-conditions.”

Speaking today in Geneva (17 Dec), Al-Nashif reminded the Council that the report of the Joint Investigation on Tigray, issued by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the UN human rights office (OHCHR), found that all parties to the conflict – “including the Ethiopian National Defence Forces, Tigrayan Forces and Eritrean Defence forces – had committed, to varying degrees, human rights violations and abuses, as well as violations of international humanitarian law and refugee law.” She said some of the incidents investigated “could potentially amount to international crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

While the Government of Ethiopia expressed some reservation regarding the joint investigation's findings, it has committed to undertake comprehensive and impartial investigations into the alleged serious violations, and to implement some of the report's recommendations. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the Eritrean Government entirely rejected the report and its findings.

The Government of Ethiopia followed up its own commitment by establishing an Inter-Ministerial Task Force, and both the UN Human Rights Office and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission were invited to discuss the Government’s plans for implementation of the joint report's recommendations

Al-Nashif said, “Meanwhile, the conflict has continued, with ongoing fighting beyond the borders of Tigray. Our Office continues to receive credible reports of severe human rights violations and abuses by all parties.”

The Deputy High Commissioner said the humanitarian impact of the conflict is increasingly dramatic. Acute food insecurity now affects more than 9.4 million people in northern Ethiopia, according to OCHA and within Tigray, 5.2 million people, representing roughly 90 per cent of the population, are in need.

Only limited UN-organized humanitarian supplies have been able to enter Tigray since July, including food and vital medical supplies. In June, OCHA estimated that at least 400,000 people in Tigray were living in conditions of famine; given the difficulty of access, no recent estimates have been released, but the situation now is likely to be even worse.

SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“The lack of access has been compounded by harassment of humanitarian workers, including NGO workers, accompanied by widespread anti-humanitarian rhetoric. Attacks against medical facilities and other essential civilian structures are extremely troubling.”

At least two million people across Tigray, Amhara and Afar have been forced to leave their homes due to the conflict and many of them are not receiving the assistance they need to stay alive.

There are also concerns that internally displaced people might be pressured to return or relocate to areas that may be unsafe. The Deputy High Commissioner expressed concern about the situation of Eritrean refugees living in Ethiopia, many of whom express fear of retaliation by Eritrean forces operating in the country. More than 50,000 Ethiopians have fled the Tigray region for east Sudan.

SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“The nationwide state of emergency announced on 2 November is leading to significant human rights concerns, on a very broad scale. Notably, the state of emergency authorises the arrest, search and detention of anyone suspected of supporting the Tigray People's Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation Army, designated ‘terrorist groups’ in May 2021. This excessively broad provision has led to mass arrests and detentions of thousands of Ethiopians, including United Nations staff, and, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 14 journalists. Most of those arrested are ethnic Tigrayans.”

Such arrests have continued in recent days. Earlier this week, OHCHR received reports of the detention of some 83 people, including four women, in Guji zone in the Oromia region, in connection with the state of emergency. Last week, on 8 and 9 December, about 1,500 people of Tigray and Gumuz ethnicity were reportedly detained in Asosa, in Benishangul-Gumuz region, also under the state of emergency.

SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“While some of those arrested over the past six weeks have been released, we estimate that between 5,000 and 7,000 remain detained, including nine UN staff members. Many are detained incommunicado or in unknown locations. This is tantamount to enforced disappearance, and a matter of very grave concern.”

Al-Nashif told the Council that access by independent monitors has been a major challenge. “Reportedly, many have been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment and extreme overcrowding, in addition to their prolonged detention without charge, access to lawyers or any other form of due process.”

The Deputy High Commissioner also deplored “increasing hate speech and incitement to violence by federal and regional authorities, as well as other public figures, particularly targeted against Tigrayans and members of the Oromo community.” She said, “Like the nation-wide sweeps, house arrests and raids, this rhetoric – in public speeches, broadcasting and social media, including Facebook and Twitter – intensifies a climate of fear. The risk of increasing hatred, violence and discrimination is very high, and could escalate into generalized violence. This could have major implications, not only for millions of people in Ethiopia, but also across the region.”

Al-Nashif stressed that humanitarian workers must “urgently be permitted rapid, safe and unimpeded passage to assist all civilians in need in Tigray and other conflict-affected areas.”

The Deputy High Commissioner also urged all parties to participate in a meaningful and inclusive dialogue at national level – both through the National Dialogue Commission, once it has been formally established, and in the context of the African Union's mediation efforts. She said the Government should take immediate action to ensure that measures under the state of emergency fully comply with the country's commitments under international human rights law.

Al-Nashif noted that recent actions by the authorities in the context of the state of emergency appear inconsistent with the Government’s expressed commitment to implement the recommendations of the joint investigation report.

SOUNDBITE (English) Nada Al-Nashif, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights:
“Notably, all people detained under the state of emergency must continue to be treated fully consistently with international standards, including knowledge of the grounds of detention, as well as of any charges against them, and prompt and fair trial. Independent monitors, including the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, should be permitted access to all detention facilities.”

She said the Government's establishment of a domestic mechanism to implement human rights recommendations is a step forward, and it would be important to operationalize and give genuine effect to this stated commitment for meaningful accountability for victims.

Al-Nashif said, “The onus is on the State to discharge its primary responsibility to deliver fair and independent proceedings that address the full range of violations identified – not only isolated individual instances – and to take into consideration applicable command responsibility. Without significant accountability efforts, an international mechanism could be an important complement.”
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