• Press Release

Atrocity Survivors in Ethiopia Remain Without Justice 

March 19, 2024

(Kiyoshi Tanno/Getty)

A year after releasing an atrocity determination for the conflict in northern Ethiopia, the United States government has not made any updates or taken on new policy changes towards justice and accountability. 

“An atrocity determination without meaningful policy change that addresses the pervasive cycle of impunity in Ethiopia isn’t worth much to victims and survivors of these crimes,” warned Kate Hixon, Advocacy Director for Africa with Amnesty International USA. “The U.S. government must support survivors to ensure they receive the justice and accountability they demand and to which they have a right. The State Department should also seek to update the determination to address justice and accountability issues amid the ongoing armed conflict in the Amhara region, where Amnesty International documented possible war crimes.” 

On March 20, 2023, U.S. Secretary of Antony Blinken announced a U.S. government atrocity determination that all parties to the conflict in northern Ethiopia committed war crimes. It found that the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, Eritrean Defense Forces and Amhara forces also committed crimes against humanity, “including murder, rape, and other forms of sexual violence, and persecution.” Members of the Amhara forces were also identified as responsible for committing the crime against humanity of deportation or forcible transfer and committed ethnic cleansing in western Tigray.   

Despite asks from international human rights organizations and many in Ethiopian civil society, the U.S. was complacent in allowing the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia mandate to expire in October 2023. 

Since the cessation of hostilities, Ethiopian authorities have not taken meaningful steps towards justice and accountability for crimes committed during the conflict in northern Ethiopia. Additionally, ENDF and the Fano militia are now fighting in another armed conflict in Amhara region where Amnesty International documented possible war crimes by the ENDF. The ENDF and Amhara forces, which includes the Fano militia and Amhara special forces, were named as perpetrators of atrocity crimes in the 2023 determination for their acts in the Tigray region. 

Since armed conflict broke out in early August, the entire Amhara region has been under an internet blackout. Independent journalists are barred from reporting on the conflict, and they are persecuted if they attempt to. Ethiopian authorities continue to use the state of emergency law to crack down on anyone who dares to dissent peacefully.   

Amnesty International also continues to receive reports of harassment against civil society organizations in Ethiopia by the government.  

“Secretary Blinken must urgently work with the African Union and the international community to engage the government of Ethiopia to order the ENDF to stop targeting civilians in the Amhara region. He must also ensure that the United States broaden its analysis of atrocity determination into the Amhara and Oromia region, where active risks of atrocities exist amid ongoing armed conflict, to urgently address justice and accountability issues,” concluded Hixon.