On Friday 14 October 2022, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (herein the Commission), confirmed its decision to be seized of a complaint filed against the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (herein the State), on behalf of victims and survivors of the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia. The communication was filed on 8 February 2022 by Legal Action Worldwide (LAW), Pan African Lawyer’s Union (PALU), and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. In addition to seizure the African Commission has issued provisional measures urging the State to cease all violations and ensure humanitarian access in Tigray.
Since November 2020 the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and associated forces have committed extrajudicial killings, torture, sexual violence and enforced disappearances against Tigrayan civilians. The conflict has caused the displacement of thousands of people from their home, and those remaining in the Northern region of Tigray are currently facing a humanitarian catastrophe with famine conditions caused by a suffocating blockade. The Director General of the UN World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, has urged the world not to forget the humanitarian crisis in Tigray, explaining that ‘even amid the war in Ukraine there is nowhere on earth where people are more at risk than in Tigray.’
In issuing these provisional measures, the African Commission recognizes that the situation in Tigray, and elsewhere in Ethiopia, remains critical. If deemed admissible by the Commission, this will be the first case heard against Ethiopia alleging that the State and its allies have committed and continue to commit human rights violations and abuses against Tigrayan communities. It signifies a significant first step towards recognition and acknowledgement of the violations and abuses that have been perpetrated against the Tigrayan population for almost two years, and towards justice for the victims and survivors of the conflict.