Threats to terminate the mandate of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia

To: Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council


We, the undersigned civil society and human rights organisations, are alarmed by the 15 February announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia to the Executive Council of the African Union that the Ethiopian government is planning to present a resolution at the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council to terminate the mandate of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE).

We write to urge your delegations to reject any resolution to prematurely terminate the mandate of ICHREE, and to express your support for the mandate and work of the Commission. The independent mandate and work of ICHREE is crucial to preserve the opportunity for victims of grave international crimes to have access to justice, particularly because of the eroding environment for independent media and human rights monitoring of conflict-affected areas of Ethiopia. We are deeply concerned about the government’s ongoing harassment of human rights defenders, including at the judicial level.

Ethiopia’s attempts to terminate ICHREE’s mandate during its term are unprecedented. Not only does it suggest that states can politically maneuver to overturn the decisions of the Human Rights Council to avoid independent scrutiny and accountability, but it could also set a dangerous precedent regarding international scrutiny and impunity for rights abuses elsewhere.

In November 2022, the Ethiopian federal government and Tigrayan authorities signed a cessation of hostilities agreement. While the agreement restored some long overdue aspects of civilian life, including easing some restrictions on basic services and humanitarian assistance, independent, effective investigations with a view to prosecution of grave international crimes will be key. The work and mandate of ICHREE would complement the cessation of hostilities agreement which recognizes the need for accountability and justice.

Victims of violations and their families in northern Ethiopia, as well as in other parts of the country, have expressed a lack of trust in state institutions and continue to seek greater international attention to their suffering and for action to end impunity. Ethiopia’s efforts to terminate ICHREE’s work would silence the hope and trust that victims have placed in it, including those who have already engaged with the ICHREE in the hope that their stories would be told.

With ongoing human rights abuses, and credible investigations and accountability at the domestic level still elusive, the Human Rights Council and its members should support those seeking justice and enable ICHREE to continue to fulfill the mandate it was given in 2021: to collect and preserve evidence of serious crimes committed, and to identify those responsible, with a view—where possible—to make such information accessible and usable in support of ongoing and future accountability efforts.

We reiterate our call to members and observers of the UN Human Rights Council to block Ethiopia’s efforts to terminate the mandate of the ICHREE, and to confirm your support for the ICHREE and the protection of the integrity of the Human Rights Council and its mandated bodies.

1.     Africa Legal Aid (AFLA)

2.     African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) - Sudan

3.     Amnesty International

4.     Association pour la Défense des Droits de la Personne et des Libertés Publiques (ADL) - Rwanda

5.     Association Mauritanienne des Droits de l'Homme (AMDH) – Mauritania

6.     Association nigérienne pour la défense des droits de l'Homme (ANDDH) – Niger

7.     Association Tchadienne pour la Promotion et Défense des Droits de l'Homme (ATPDH) – Chad

8.     Association of Victims, Relatives and Friends of September 28, 2009 (AVIPA)

9.     Atrocities Watch Africa (AWA)

10.  Australia Tigray Alliance (ATA)

11.  The Botswana Centre for Human Rights (DITSHWANELO) - Botswana

12.  Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD)

13.  Center for Democracy and Development (CDD)- Mozambique 

14.  The Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law - Sierra Leone 

15.  CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

16.  The Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia

17.  Coalition for Justice and Accountability

18.  Cooperation platform for Tigrayan-Norwegians

19.  DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)

20.  Dekna Foundation

21.  Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) – Ethiopia

22.  Ethiopian Canadians for Peace

23. FKA-Senegal

24.  Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

25.  The Global Society of Tigray Scholars and Professionals (GSTS)

26.  Groupe LOTUS - Democratic Republic of Congo 

27.  Health Professionals Network for Tigray

28.  Human Rights Concern Eritrea

29.  Human Rights Watch

30.  International Commission of Jurists (Global)

31.  International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

32.  The International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)

33.  Irob Anina Civil Society (IACS)

34.  Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRI) - Kenya

35.  Kenya Section of the International Commission of Jurists (Kenya)

36.  Legal Action Worldwide (LAW)

37.  Legacy Tigray

38.  Les Mêmes Droits pour Tous (MDT) - Guinea

39.  Ligue Burundaise des droits de l’Homme (Iteka) – Burundi

40.  Ligue Centrafricaine des Droits de l'Homme (LCDH) - Central African Republic 

41.  Ligue Djiboutienne des Droits Humains (LDDH) – Djibouti

42.  Ligue Ivoirienne des Droits de l'Homme (LIDHO) - Cote d’Ivoire

43.  Ligue Sénégalaise des Droits humains (LSDH) - Sénégal

44.  Observatoire congolais des droits de l'Homme (OCDH) – Congo

45.  Observatoire des droits de l’Homme au Rwanda (ODHR) - Rwanda

46.  Omna Tigray

47.  Organisation Guinéenne de Défense des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen (OGDH) - Guinea 

48.  Organisation Nationale des Droits de l'Homme (ONDH) - Sénégal

49.  Oromo Legacy Leadership & Advocacy Association (OLLAA)

50.  Pan African Lawyers Association (PALU)

51.  Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA)

52.  Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l'Homme (RADDHO)

53.  Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

54.  Security & Justice for Tigrayans

55.  Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)

56.  Sudanese Human Rights Monitor (SHRM) - Sudan

57.  Tigray Action Committee

58.  Tigray Advocacy and Development Association UK

59.  Tigray Youth Network

60.  Union of Tigrayans in Europe

61.  United Tegaru Canada

62.  Women’s Association for Victims’ Empowerment (WAVE)-Gambia

63.  Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) – Zimbabwe


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