By Prof. Kjetil Tronvoll
The #Ethiopian government has informed the diplomatic community in the country of the “measures taken by the Government on #humanrights violations related to the conflict in the northern part of the country.”
One may argue however that it seems evident that PM Abiy Ahmed, the #PP government, and the “ENDF military leadership in #Ethiopia are ultimately politically and juridically responsible for the #warcrimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly #genocide for their war in and on #Tigray. In humanitarian law, a key principle of designating responsibility for war crimes and atrocities is “command responsibility”. The ICRC in its comprehensive commentary on International humanitarian law elaborates on command responsibility in the following way (Rule 153): “Commanders and other superiors are criminally responsible for war crimes committed by their subordinates if they knew, or had reason to know, that the subordinates were about to commit or were committing such crimes and did not take all necessary and reasonable measures in their power to prevent their commission, or if such crimes had been committed, to punish the persons responsible.”
There is ample evidence that PM Abiy Ahmed, members of his government, and the #ENDF leadership were aware of the atrocities committed, condoned them, and even at times encouraged such actions to take place.
Very seldom however will an incumbent government allow investigation and prosecution of such crimes against themselves. «Shit rolls downhill» is a military expression apparently fitting the Ethiopian government’s current so-called “accountability strategy”; i.e. we can expect that blame for the atrocities in Tigray are pushed down the ranks to lower-level officers and rank and file soldiers who will be singled out for persecution.
If political and military top-level #accountability will take place, this would need to be included as an element in a possible future “peace agreement” between the Government of Tigray and the Federal Government of Ethiopia. However, at this juncture, the classic dilemma of “peace or justice” will occur – it is highly unlikely that the Ethiopian government will accept a peace agreement which may lead to the arrest and persecution of PM Abiy Ahmed, the Ministers of Defense, Peace, and Justice, and the top-level military brass.
So, herein lies the dilemma for the Tigray government – to achieve #peace with the federal government they must accept that the political and military leaders responsible for the massive atrocities inflicted upon the Tigrayan people will not be held to account. For the #TPLF regional government to endorse such a “peace agreement” will conversely put them at risk of massive criticism from the #Tegaru, who have been victims of the atrocities. Furthermore, TPLF has repeatedly stated that they will not give up the struggle before the political leaders in Addis (and #Asmara) are held to account, so they would also need to double back on their promises given to the people of Tigray.
So, although there are signs of movement in a political dialogue between #Mekelle and #Addis, there is no quick fix to a deal. And, we should also be aware that the outcome of a possible “agreement” may again spark protests and push-back from the many, many victims of war crimes and atrocity crimes inflicted upon them.
By Prof. Kjetil Tronvoll