Credible Investigation Needed Into Deaths of Protesters

By Felix Horne, Researcher, Horn of Africa

Ethiopia has a horrendous human rights record – but that didn’t stop its election this week to the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member. It’s worth noting too that Ethiopia – implicated in the deaths of hundreds of peaceful protesters in recent months – is also a member of the UN Human Rights Council.

The UN Security Council votes on a resolution at UN Headquarters in New York on March 2, 2016.  © 2016 Reuters
The UN Security Council votes on a resolution at UN Headquarters in New York on March 2, 2016. © 2016 Reuters

Ethiopia, among Africa’s leading jailors of journalists, has decimated independent civil society and misused its counterterrorism law to stifle peaceful dissent. Arbitrary arrests and torture continue to be major concerns. The ruling coalition won 100 percent of parliamentary seats at federal and regional levels in the 2015 elections, after years of restrictions on opposition parties and supporters.

Two weeks ago, Human Rights Watch published a report into the government’s handling of the largely peaceful Oromo protests, where security forces killed an estimated 400 people, many of them students. Thousands have been arrested. The use of excessive force to stifle peaceful protest has occurred frequently, but Ethiopians have few outlets to criticize the government that won’t get them arrested. This has created a volatile internal security situation. The investigation by Ethiopia’s national Human Rights Commission fell short of international standards and concluded that security forces used “proportionate force” against protesters. A credible, independent investigation with international support is needed into these killings.

Despite the dire human rights situation, Ethiopia is a now a member of both the Security Council and the Human Rights Council. Its track record on the rights council has been poor: it has consistently blocked cooperation with UN special mechanisms, not permitted access to a single special rapporteur since 2007 – other than the special rapporteur on Eritrea, unsurprising given the ongoing “cold war” between the two countries. UN special rapporteurs on torture, freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly, the right of food, and the independent expert on human rights and international solidarity all have outstanding requests for visits.

Ethiopia should stop hiding its own human rights record from international scrutiny, and as a member of both the Human Rights Council and the Security Council, cooperate fully with UN special mechanisms, in particular the rapporteurs on peaceful assembly and torture to further investigate the human rights situation. Moreover, Ethiopia’s international partners should be supporting a credible, independent investigation into abuses during the Oromo protests.

4 thoughts on “Dispatches: Ethiopia Ascends to UN Security Council Despite Dismal Rights Record

  1. This is just how it works if you are a good and obedient boy then you are rewarded nicely until your expire date then the west will wash their hands clean and put the blame squarely on the stooge boy when hell breaks loose. Lets see how long tplf stays the darling of the west.

  2. it shows how much UN leaders are critical and have no value for human life. They(UN) are believers of fabricated data than reality.

  3. @GG:

    I would rather they say they are ignorant and so self centered; they don’t want to take any risk for whatever reason. There might be more words and terms that can better describe them. But in short, Ethiopian leaders and UN are not so much different politically but acting way different. They heard it, saw it and knew it. The world is shouting about this and expect the so called “super power” world judges will give honest and prompt verdict, also support the people suffering. Simply they don’t care, they know Dictators and scare of their little power as well. So they pretend the dictators are doing good till another dictator takes over when the UN comes in as a mediator, with their common terms of “we are deeply concerned” on the media while they dine behind the door with those dictators.
    UN or any country that assumes to stand for the right of the poor people cannot be their for the people when the people want them, but when they themselves want to do their own job.

    What credit should those big organization stuffed with .. in this world deserve and for which of their good work? Is UN really helping the African poor, really the poor majority of the African population, or may be strengthening the grip of the dictators on the poor? After all who assists the dictators all over the world? Who cares about the immigrants dying of violence of terrorism while they are running to escape the home made but “government” called terrorists?

    so, the question should we expect the UN do something about journalists in jail, about the credible 400 and so students murdered for no reason, about thousands of the poor languishing in notorious prisons human being cannot even enter into, dismissed or those thousands who are being raped? It will be wasting time.

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