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UN: War Crimes Continue in Ethiopia Despite Peace Agreement

FILE — Mohamed Chande Othman speaks during a news conference during his third visit to Sudan, Khartoum, June 8, 2011

GENEVA — United Nations experts Monday published a report that said war crimes and crimes against humanity continue being committed in Ethiopia nearly a year after government and regional forces from Tigray agreed to end fighting.

Mohamed Chande Othman, the chair of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, released a statement that accompanied the U.N.'s report, where he said the agreement signed by the Ethiopia's former rival forces did not bring "about any comprehensive peace."

"While the signing of the agreement may have mostly silenced the guns, it has not resolved the conflict in the north of the country, in particularly in Tigray," Othman said.

"The situation in Ethiopia remains extremely grave," he added.

In its report, the Commission said human rights violations in Tigray were "grave and ongoing," adding there had been attacks by the Eritrean Defense Forces, EDF, against civilians.

Eritrea, which sent in troops to fight alongside the Ethiopian government forces during the conflict, rejects accusations by residents and rights groups who allege that Eritrean soldiers committed abuses in Tigray.

The Commission's report said violations "have been abetted or tolerated by the federal government, which has failed in its legal duty to protect its population from violations by a foreign army, or by Amhara militia present in the areas of Western and Southern Tigray."

The report said the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces and allied regional special forces carried out a "widespread and systematic attack" against civilian populations.

"It finds that members of these forces committed the crimes against humanity of murder, torture, rape, acts of a sexual nature of comparable gravity, sexual slavery, enslavement imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty ..." the report said.

Ethiopia's government and its armed forces have repeatedly denied that their soldiers committed widespread crimes on their own, or with Eritrean forces, and have promised to investigate complaints of individual abuses.

Authorities from the Ethiopian region of Amhara have also denied that their forces committed atrocities in neighboring Tigray.

Ethiopia's two-year conflict formally ended in November 2022 after thousands died and the rival forces traded accusations over several atrocities, among them massacres, rape and arbitrary detentions.