Op-Ed :Urging the International Court of justice (ICJ) to Act on Ethiopia Now

I have been trying to draw international attention to ongoing war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of genocide, crimes of rape and economic crimes in Ethiopia for months. These state government and non-government led crimes persist because there is no accountability. The international community has the duty to respond decisively to the pleas and plight of innocent civilians, including children, girls, women, and the elderly.

The sense of impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of such crimes during the so-called Northern War in Ethiopia that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, including girls and women, emboldened the Abiy government and army to declare a state of emergency with the license to kill innocent civilians in the Amhara region using drones, tanks, rockets and the like. It is reported that the Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF), whose Manifesto remains intact and refuses to disarm under the Pretoria Agreement killed scores of people, including children in the Amhara region this week. This is a war crime.

Agere Getnet pays respects in front of a tomb containing the remains of her husband, Tebekaw, 37, his little Brother Alie Abere and his nephew Aynew Mulat located at Abune Aregawi Ethiopian Orthodox Church on March 06, 2021 in Mai Kadra, Ethiopia

Members of Abiy’s army have raped girls as young as ten years old. Reliable Ethiopian sources tell me that members of Abiy’s military tormentors are impregnating Amhara girls and women. This is a deliberate barbaric act the world cannot afford to ignore.

Despite the US government’s outcry to stop this ethnicity-based war, the Abiy Ahmed regime is doing the exact opposite. It mobilized and bused more troops, expanded, and intensified assaults of Amhara. If this is not genocide; then what constitutes genocide?

Why is the Biden Administration reluctant to characterize deliberate and recurrent killings of Amhara by the Ethiopian state of Abiy Ahmed Ali a form of genocide?

I find no single family in the Amhara region that is unaffected by this criminal war.

I repeat. Immunity is a dangerous thing. It projects a sense of acquiescence on the part of the UN system. It leads to the absence or lack of accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide. It also reinforces the chorus of mistrust that today afflicts international institutions like the United Nations system and the African Union. Left as is, it degrades international morality and human worth. It destabilizes the entre Horn and Eastern Africa. This is hardly in the strategic interest of the community of civilized nations.

To whom do victims turn?

By all accounts, Abiy Ahmed Ali’s ethnicity-based military continues to  wage one of the worst war crimes in human history, bombing and killing Amhara civilians, villages and towns, destroying social and economic infrastructure, farms, granaries, choking roads and domestic supply chains, emboldening soldiers to rape girls and married women, causing starvation, hunger and massive displacement, closing schools and depriving more than four million children in the Amhara region alone the education they need and deserve.

I commend USA-based New Lines Institute for releasing its compelling, timely and fact-based report on June 4, 2024, under the title: “Genocide in Tigray: Serious breaches of international law in the Tigray conflict, Ethiopia, and paths to accountability.”

The writers offer a set of recommendations for consideration by the international community in general, more specifically by the International Court of Justice as well as by stakeholder states like the government of the United States.

In my assessment, an alleged perpetrator of such crimes cannot be allowed to judge itself. No justice will occur if war criminals go free. In fact, they will continue to commit the same crimes repeatedly. This is why the international community must be involved directly and boldly now.

I therefore endorse the recommendation below:

. Accordingly, United States should:

  • Recognize that there is at least a reasonable basis to believe that genocide and other related acts were committed in Ethiopia against Tigrayans, and that responsibility for these acts may be attributable to Ethiopia as a State.
  • Recognize that, even if Ethiopia was not responsible for the genocide and other related acts, there is at least a reasonable basis to believe that it failed to prevent or punish such acts committed on its territory.
  • Conform their bilateral relations with States, including Ethiopia, to the state of affairs set out above.
  • Take appropriate action considering their own obligations under the Genocide Convention, including, as appropriate, instituting proceedings before the International Court of Justice under Article IX.
  • Take appropriate action in multilateral fora to secure an international, impartial, and independent criminal investigation of such acts by the International Criminal Court or any other suitable mechanism
  • Exercise universal jurisdiction, in accordance with applicable domestic law, over individuals implicated in the commission of genocide and other related acts, as well as other core international crimes such as crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

I go further. The principles of impartiality and universality must be applied.

The core principle in international human rights law of “universal jurisdiction” means that war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of genocide, crimes of ethnic cleansing and crimes of rape perpetrated against the Amhara population over the past three decades, and especially once Abiy Ahmed Ali assumed his premiership must also be considered as crimes and included in the deliberations.

Not only is this fair; it is just responsible, timely and the right thing to do.

The same process and international laws embedded in the UN Genocide Convention must also apply to other parts of Africa where similar atrocities occur. Black African lives matter as much as other lives anywhere in the world.

Finally, I urge the good offices of the New Lines Institute to compile the plethora of human rights violations, killings, maiming, rapes, and other atrocities inflicted on the Amhara population and present it for consideration by the International Court of Justice and by concerned governments.

I am sure Amhara associations, media, individuals, Gondar University, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council and Commission as well as international human rights organizations like Amnesty International, the Lekin Institute Against Genocide will be willing and ready to provide the data they have collected already.

On my part, I am ready and willing to participate in this critical effort.

EAR Editorial Note : This is the author’s viewpoint and Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of EAR

Aklog Birara

Aklog Birara served as Economic Advisor, General Manager of the Commercial Bank in Ethiopia, as Senior Economic Advisor with the United States Agency for International Development in Chadi and Cameroon; and in various capacities including Senior Advisor with the World Bank group where he worked for 30 years. A prolific writer and commentator, he has published the following books: 1. Seeds for Democratization in Ethiopia: why unity of purpose matters. Author house, 2007. 2. የዲሞክራሲ መሰረቶች በኢትዮጵያ፤ የአላማ አንድነት ወሳኝነት፤ ኦተርሃውስ. 2008. 3. ድርጅታዊ ምዝበራ፤ የኢትዮጵያ እድገታዊ መንግሥትና የሥልጣን ባለ ኃብቶች ኢኮኖሚ---Maple Creek Media, 2013. 4. ኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብን ያማከለ ልማት ያስፈልጋታል፤ ከላር ማተሚያ ቤት፤ አዲስ አበባ፤ 2019 5. Waves: endemic poverty that globalization can’t tackle but Ethiopian can. Signature Books, 2010 6. Ethiopia: the great land giveaway (the deal of the century), Signature Books, 2011 7. Promising Ethiopia and the art of external dominance, Copy Right 2023 (available on Amazon and worldwide) 8. Biography in progress

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