BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The United States, Germany, France and other G7 nations on Friday called for an independent and transparent investigation into alleged human rights violations during the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region.
Ethiopia’s federal army ousted the former ruling regional party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), from the capital Mekelle in November.
Thousands of people died, hundreds of thousands were forced to flee and there is a shortage of food, water and medicine in the region. The government says most fighting has stopped but there are still isolated shooting incidents.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said last week Eritrea had agreed to withdraw troops it had sent during fighting into Ethiopian territory along their common border amid growing reports of human rights abuses. Eritrea has denied its troops joined the conflict.
The G7 foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States as well as EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell expressed their concerns in a joint statement.
“All parties must exercise complete restraint, ensure the protection of civilians and respect human rights and international law,” they said.
“It is imperative that there is an independent, transparent and impartial investigation into the crimes reported and that those responsible for human rights violations are held accountable,” the ministers said.
They said the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray had to be swift, unconditional and verifiable and that a political process acceptable to all Ethiopians had to be established that led to credible elections and a process of national reconciliation.
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in March it was ready to work with international human rights experts to carry out investigations into alleged abuses.
Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Edited by Peter Graff