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US Government Authorises Sanctions Against Human Rights Violators In Ethiopia

Individuals and entities responsible for or complicit in serious abuses and obstructing access to humanitarian aid will be targeted.

U.S. President Joe Biden  has  signed an executive order allowing the U.S. government to impose sanctions against people found responsible for a wide range of serious Human Rights abuses in northern Ethiopia.

According to a Human Rights Watch report,  by this order, the U.S. government has established a  regime that allows it to deny visas to and freeze assets of individuals and entities responsible for or complicit in serious abuses and obstruct humanitarian aid. 

“The US executive order allows for targeted sanctions that emphasise individual responsibility, and, importantly, will not affect the general population. To be most effective, the United Nations Security Council, the African Union, the European Union, and other concerned governments should adopt similar measures,” part of the Order signed on Friday, Sept. 17, read.

“An independent, international monitoring mechanism can point them in the right direction.” 

Ethiopia’s government has reportedly continued a blockade of the Tigray region, preventing aid agencies from delivering critical food, fuel, and medicine to millions.

The hateful anti-Tigrayan statements by officials and government advisors have also further heightened tensions notably in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, outside of Tigray where there have been alleged reports of arbitrary arrests and disappearance of scores of Tigrayans. 

“Although the federal government withdrew forces from most of Tigray in late June, atrocities continue. Fifty bodies were recently found in the river bordering western Tigray and Sudan,” the Human Rights Watch report said.

“Since July, the conflict has spread to Ethiopia’s Afar and Amhara regions where more civilians have reportedly suffered abuses, thousands have been displaced, and humanitarian needs have grown.” 

Many of the abuses of human rights documented by Human Rights Watch since the conflict started in Nov. 2020  constitute war crimes, some of which include; massacres, widespread sexual violence, forced displacement, and deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure by Ethiopian federal government forces and their allies, including Eritrean government forces. 

These crimes may also amount to crimes against humanity, the organisation said. Tigrayan militia forces have also killed and raped Eritrean refugees.

“As the last 10 months have shown, criticism alone of the warring parties’ conduct has done little to prevent or deter serious abuses. One hopes the threat of sanctions will have a greater impact,”  the report added.


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