Ethiopia: Open Letter to UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Dear High Commissioner:

In advance of your anticipated trip to Ethiopia on Tuesday May 2, 2017 we, members of the Ethiopia Advocacy Network (EAN) are writing to urge you to encourage the Ethiopian government to give access to independent UN observers to investigate the use of the deadly force by the regime’s security forces.

The United Nations says the U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein

As you are well aware, since November 2015, Ethiopian security forces have routinely used excessive and lethal force to suppress peaceful protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions of Ethiopia that constitute 70% of Ethiopia’s more than 100 million population. According to Amnesty International at least 800 people have been killed and thousands have been arrested and beaten by security forces and taken to military prisons.1

Numerous, journalists, opposition political party leaders and supporters have been arrested on trumped up charges and locked up in many of the notorious prisons around the country since the regime declared a draconian state of emergency on October 9, 2016.

It may be recalled that in response to the violent crackdown your good Office called for “access for independent observers to the country to assess the human rights situation” which the Ethiopian regime has rejected repeatedly just as they have refused entry since 2007 to all UN Special Rapporteurs.

On September 2, 2016 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights issued a statement expressing its deep concern over the unfolding events in Ethiopia and called on the regime to grant unimpeded access to African Commission and other international/regional human rights organizations to carry out prompt and impartial investigations on the reported killings.2

Needless to say the need for international, independent, thorough, impartial and transparent investigations is absolutely imperative to bring to an end the well documented lawlessness and impunity of the security forces.

“Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission”, established by the regime in power lacks the independence and credibility to investigate any human rights violations including the recent killings. The recently released “report” is prima facie evidence of its lack of impartiality. The “report” has squarely put the blame on the protesters and absolved the regime of any wrong doing.3

During your upcoming visit, we strongly urge you, to demand that the Ethiopian regime grant unfettered access to independent UN investigators and if it refuses we urge you to boldly and unequivocally tell the world of its refusal. Ethiopia as a founding member of the United Nations, the African Union, a current non-voting member of the Security Council and a member of the UN Human Rights Council cannot be allowed to repeatedly flout its international obligations, to which it is a party to.

Actions should have consequences and the Ethiopia regime has not been held accountable for its abysmal record on human rights for decades. As the oldest nation and the regional power in the Horn of Africa Ethiopia’s consistent failure to uphold the rule of law and play a positive role in Africa should no longer be ignored.

Additionally, we urge you to request that the regime:

  • immediately lift the state of emergency;
  • immediately and unconditionally release ALL political prisoners;
  • urgently allow access to an international, independent, impartial UN observers to conduct a transparent investigation into the use of lethal force that resulted in the death of peaceful protesters;
  • ensure that perpetrators of the alleged violations are held accountable and
  • fully comply with its international legal obligations and commitments including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and its own constitution.

We wish you a safe trip to our beloved homeland, Ethiopia, and look forward to your report.

Ethiopian Advocacy Network