Reports on grave violations in Tigray need to be assessed – Bachelet

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet has stressed that the urgent need for an objective, independent assessment of the persistent reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

On Thursday, Bachelet said without prompt, impartial and transparent investigations and holding those responsible accountable, the violations will continue to be committed with impunity, and the situation will remain volatile for a long time to come.

“Deeply distressing reports of sexual and gender-based violence, extrajudicial killings, widespread destruction and looting of public and private property by all parties continue to be shared with us.

“As well as reports of continued fighting in central Tigray in particular, “Credible information also continues to emerge about serious violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict in Tigray in November last year”, she said.

She added that the UN Human Rights Office has been receiving information about ongoing fighting across the region, particularly in the centre of Tigray region, as well as incidents of looting by various armed actors.

“Reliable sources have shared information about the killing of eight protestors by security forces between 9 and 10 February in Adigrat, Mekelle, Shire and Wukro.

“More than 136 cases of rape have also been reported in hospitals in Mekelle, Ayder, Adigrat and Wukro in the east of Tigray region between December and January, with indications that there are many more such unreported cases”.

Bachelet expressed concern at detentions this week in Tigray of journalists and translators working for local and international media.

“While the journalists have now been released, there have been worrying remarks by a Government official that those responsible for “misleading international media” would be held responsible.

“Victims and witnesses of human rights violations and abuses must not be hindered from sharing their testimony for fear of reprisals,” the High Commissioner said.

She welcomed recent statements by the Government on accountability and measures taken on access for humanitarian actors, while urged the authorities to ensure that those commitments are translated into reality.

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