Report of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC)/Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Joint Investigation into Alleged Violations of International Human Rights, Humanitarian and Refugee Law Committed by all Parties


Executive Summary

From 16 May to 30 August 2021, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) conducted a joint investigation into alleged human rights violations and abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law, and refugee law committed in the context of the conflict in Tigray, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The objectives of the joint investigation were to provide a faithful account of the human rights situation in Tigray including its gender dimension; further the accountability process and advocate for effective remedies; provide clear and actionable recommendations; and identify serious violations to ensure redress for victims and prevent recurrence.

The investigation was carried out within the framework of relevant international legal norms, including international human rights law, humanitarian law, refugee law and criminal law, as well as Ethiopian domestic law. Prior to the commencement of the investigation, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) agreed on its methods of work to guide the investigation and applied best practices regarding victim and witness protection, rules of procedure, international investigative standards, report writing, and archiving. Consistent with the practice of international fact-finding bodies, the JIT adopted a “reasonable grounds to believe” standard of proof for factual determinations on individual cases, incidents and patterns of violations.

The JIT investigated alleged violations by all parties to the conflict from 3 November 2020 until the unilateral ceasefire declared by the federal government of Ethiopia on 28 June 2021. Field investigations were conducted from 16 May to 31 August 2021 in different locations in Tigray including Mekelle, Wukro, Samre and nearby areas, Alamata, Bora, Maichew, Dansha, Maikadra, and Humera. The JIT visited internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps in Mekelle, Gondar, Dabat, and Dansha, and, interviewed IDPs from various parts of Tigray, including Adi Aro, Adi Hageray, Adigrat, Adwa, Badme, Dengolat, Humera, Korem, Maikadra, Mekelle, Quiha, Shimelba, Shire, Sheraro, Tembien, and Zalambesa. The JIT also conducted investigations in Addis Ababa and other affected locations such as Gondar and Bahir Dar. The JIT conducted 269 confidential interviews with victims and witnesses of alleged violations and abuses and held 64 meetings with federal and regional authorities, representatives of United Nations agencies and nongovernmental organizations, community groups, medical personnel, and other sources.

The report does not purport to be an exhaustive record of all relevant incidents that occurred during this period, but it fairly illustrates the main types and overall patterns of violations and abuses over the period in question. Presentation in some of the thematic summaries follows a chronological pattern in terms of occurrences of incidents and does not imply a ranking of alleged perpetrators.