The UN rights chief said Wednesday more investigation was needed into allegations of genocide in the Tigray conflict, countering Ethiopia’s claims the allegations had been definitively refuted in a fresh report.
A widely-awaited report published Wednesday by the UN rights office and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into abuses since the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region exploded a year ago painted a bleak picture.
It found evidence of “serious abuses and violations” by all sides in the conflict, pointing to summary executions, torture, forced displacement and rape, and said there were “reasonable grounds to believe that a number of these violations may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes”.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed meanwhile highlighted that the report presented no evidence that genocide had occurred.
The findings, he said in a statement, “have clearly established the claim of genocide as false and utterly lacking of any factual basis.”
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet however said the findings were not so clear-cut when reporters asked about genocide allegations.
“On the issue of genocide, well, I think that in a number of cases there was a disturbing suggestion of ethnically-motivated violations,” Bachelet said.
“The report did not have sufficient evidence to characterise more generally the extent of the nature of the ethnic-based crimes,” she acknowledged, “but they clearly warrant further investigation.”
Bachelet stressed that the joint team had carried out a human rights investigation, and not a criminal investigation aimed at gathering evidence that can be used in a court of law.
Whether any violations committed in the conflict constituted international crimes, like war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, would need to be determined by a competent criminal court, she said.