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Honourable Chairperson and Commissioners of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

Honourable State Party Delegates,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

IHRDA would like to draw the attention of the Commission to gross human rights violations in Ethiopia.

Since the start of the conflict in Tigray in November 2020, the world’s attention has been drawn to the dire human rights and humanitarian situation in northern Ethiopia, especially given reports of atrocities committed by all parties to the conflict, amounting to crimes against humanity and war crimes against Tigrayan civilians. However, it is important to place the violations in northern Ethiopia into the national context of violence and abuses being perpetrated throughout the country, and particularly those that have been inflicted on the Oromo and other southern peoples. Such an understanding is vital for achieving lasting peace throughout Ethiopia and regional stability throughout the Horn of Africa. 

There have been long standing reports of attacks being perpetrated against Oromo civilians throughout Oromia by State agents. These attacks include acts of physical violence, extrajudicial executions, and the destruction of property, often leading to forced displacement.   For example:

● In May 2021, Ethiopian security forces extrajudicially executed a 17-year-old boy named Amanuel Wondimu Kebede in the Kellem Wellega zone of western Oromia.  Before he was executed, he was forced to confess that he had links to the OLA.

● In December 2021, Ethiopian security forces abducted 40 Karayu Oromo from their traditional Gadaa ceremony and killed 14 of them that afternoon, including the Abba Gada and Abba Boku, religious leaders of the Karayu. Two abductees managed to escape, and the remaining 23 captives were detained for approximately one month, where one more abductee died.

● Hundreds of Oromo were extrajudicially executed by Ethiopian security forces between December 2021 and February 2022 in the Wollo Oromia Special zone after being accused of “supporting the TPLF and OLA.”

In justifying these attacks, State authorities generally claim that the victims had a connection to the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).

Oromo civilians have also faced attacks by non-state armed actors, especially Amhara militias, including those associated with the group known as Fano. There has been no justice for many of the victims of these attacks, as there have been no effective investigations, or punishment of the perpetrators.

We urge the Commission to engage the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to:

  1. Put a stop to all attacks by Government agents on Oromo civilians and property.
  2. Investigate all attacks by State and non-State actors against Oromo civilians and bring the perpetrators to justice.

We would also like to join our voice with that of our colleagues in Zimbabwe and across Africa to call on the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe to abandon the ongoing consideration of the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill. The Bill, as it is now, has the effect of grossly over-regulating the operations of CSOs, as well as limiting access to funding for CSOs, among other undue restrictions.  

We urge the Commission to engage the Government of Zimbabwe to abandon this Bill, and to consult broadly with CSO actors when developing laws for regulating the affairs of CSOs in the future.

We thank you for your attention.