War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Ethnic Cleansing in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is now emerging from two years of a brutal conflict in the north, during which all parties committed atrocities. With the November 2, 2022 cessation of hostilities agreement (COHA) in place, the fighting has stopped, human rights abuses in northern Ethiopia are significantly down, Eritrean forces are leaving, and the Ethiopian government is taking the first step towards transitional justice. However, the suffering that was wrought upon civilians in northern Ethiopia must be acknowledged.

After careful review of the law and the facts, I have determined that members of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF), Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces, and Amhara forces committed war crimes during the conflict in northern Ethiopia.

Members of the ENDF, EDF, and Amhara forces also committed crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and persecution.

Members of the Amhara forces also committed the crime against humanity of deportation or forcible transfer and committed ethnic cleansing in western Tigray.

Formally recognizing the atrocities committed by all parties is an essential step to achieving a sustainable peace. Those most responsible for atrocities, including those in positions of command, must be held accountable.

We welcome the commitment that the parties to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement have made to acknowledge the atrocities committed and their devastating consequences. We urge all parties to follow through on their commitments to one another and implement a credible, inclusive, and comprehensive transitional justice process. We additionally call on the Government of Eritrea to ensure comprehensive justice and accountability for those responsible for abuses in Ethiopia.

These steps – acknowledgement, accountability, and reconciliation – are key to breaking the cycle of ethnic and political violence that has gripped Ethiopia and prevented it from reaching its unlimited potential for too long.

The United States will partner with Ethiopia as it implements a credible transitional justice process for the benefit of all victims and affected communities. We will stand with Ethiopia as it honestly faces the abuses in its past, provides accountability for the harms committed against its citizens, and moves toward a future of lasting peace.