Ethiopia: Human Rights Commission Chief Says Non-State Actors Worsening Human Rights Crisis in Ethiopia

More than a million Ethiopians were forced from their homes by violence in 2018 and 2019. Most of them were displaced from the Amhara, Somali, Oromia, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's (SNNP) regions.

Daniel Bekele, (PhD), Chief Commissioner, Ethiopia Human Rights Commission (EHRC), told Ethiopian lawmakers today that human rights situation in Ethiopia is exacerbated due mainly to non-state actors. Daniel said this when presenting his office's six months performance report of the 2019-2020 fiscal year to members of the Ethiopian House of People's Representatives (HoPR).

Daniel told the lawmakers that the various conflicts and deadly violence that plagued the country as of late have their roots within political interest groups and their identity and border questions as well as religious issues, leading the country into multiple crisis.

Human rights violations are committed mostly by these groups than by the government, he said, adding, this is not similar with previous track records of rights abuses by government agencies, such as security forces.

The political transition set forth by the current administration is facing a myriad of human rights crisis due to violent incidents on multiple fronts, Daniel further said. "Citizens were brutally killed in urban and rural areas alike including in hospitals, schools and on the streets; citizens were raped, displaced from their residences, schools and work places; properties were damaged in various places; armed men have abducted people including children, government employees and foreign nationals," Daniel said while explaining the worsening situation of rights violations in what he said were non-state actors and political interest groups.

The source of this crisis are political, social and economical in nature, he said, and called on lawmakers and the government to seek for nationwide solutions. Daniel spoke on the need to "relentlessly pursue" the works of "bringing to justice those responsible for such human rights crisis." He also called on all political parties and actors to restrain from violence inciting rhetoric and to discharge their responsibilities diligently.

With regard to the works being done by the Commission, Daniel told the lawmakers that there was an ongoing work of restructuring the Commission in order to enable it respond to the need for comprehensive solutions. A study looking at the shortcomings of the Commission, including on ways of bridging gaps in legal frameworks, is already conducted, he said.

A parallel work is also being undertaken to improve the 20 years old article establishing the Commission and its mandates aimed at adjusting it to the national and international existing realities on the ground. The preparation of the improved human rights article will have considered the ethical standards and rules governing local human rights institutions as well as current global human rights standards.

Members of parliament on their part highlighted on the need for the Commission to work closely with all stakeholders in order to effectively discharge its responsibilities.

MPs have also raised their concerns that the report by the Chief Commissioner failed short of incorporating the current situation the country is in and the Commission's works with regard to explaining actual legal measures taken to bring rights violators to justice.

Daniel Bekele has been appointed as Commissioner of the Ethiopia Human Rights Commission (EHRC), replacing Dr. Addisu Gebregziabher, on 02 July 2019. This is the first performance report of the state-led rights commission to the country's lawmakers.

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