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3rd Mar 2024

Letter

Right of Reply: Ethiopian embassy responds to Human Rights Watch

  • 'It is essential to recognise that patience is a virtue in the pursuit of justice' (Photo: Twitter)
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Dear editor of EUobserver,

The Embassy of Ethiopia in Brussels, wish to address an opinion piece recently published in the EU Observer by Laetitia Bader "Will the EU take a stance for justice in Ethiopia?" (25 August, 2023).

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In her article, Bader argues for the extension of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia [ICHREE]'s mandate while expressing doubts about the Ethiopian government's ability to deliver justice.

In light of this, we would like to provide insight into Ethiopia's significant efforts in implementing transitional justice policies, fostering healing, and building a more inclusive and just society.

Ethiopia has experienced recent conflicts, and in response, the government has embarked on a journey towards healing and reconciliation, as outlined in the Pretoria peace agreement.

Given Ethiopia's historical complexity and diversity, the implementation of transitional justice policies is pivotal for ensuring a stable and peaceful future. The government has taken proactive steps to investigate alleged human rights violations and ensure that perpetrators face justice.

This transitional justice system aims to bring wrongdoers to account while facilitating truth-telling, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

A crucial strategy in this endeavour has been the organisation of consultative meetings across different regions of Ethiopia, including Tigray, Afar, and Amhara, which bore the brunt of recent conflicts.

Since March 2023, a transitional policy blueprint has been developed, and a series of consultative meetings have been conducted. These meetings have not been mere formalities but platforms for people from diverse backgrounds to voice their concerns, share experiences, and contribute to a comprehensive transitional justice policy.

It is essential to recognise that patience is a virtue in the pursuit of justice.

Ethiopia, with its vast territory, diverse cultures, and the need to tailor the transitional justice process to local interests, requires a thorough and considered approach. The completion of local consultations in just five months is a significant achievement, demonstrating the government's commitment to a well-thought-out process.

Rushing transitional justice can lead to incomplete resolutions, deeper divisions, and a lack of trust in the process, as evidenced in similar experiences in other countries.

While Bader emphasises the EU's role in supporting justice efforts in Ethiopia and calls for the renewal of the international commission's mandate, it is important to acknowledge that the Ethiopian government is already taking substantial steps towards implementing transitional justice through a locally driven process.

Ethiopia is also already closely working with UNOCHR and EHRC and with other partners to complement this ongoing process.

While the call for justice is imperative, it is equally important to avoid measuring the success of the process only by alluding to a number of convicted cases. Hence, the international community should reinforce the importance of nationally led transitional justice mechanisms while lending a hand based on national needs in accomplishing this task.

The Embassy of Ethiopia

Brussels

Author bio

The Embassy of Ethiopia in Brussels.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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