The human rights situation continues to worsen amid increasing hostility against civil society

Statement at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council 

Interactive Dialogue with International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia

Delivered by Sibahle Zuma

Thank you Mr. President, and thank you to the Commission of Experts for this initial briefing.

Your mandate is critical: as the conflict continues in Tigray and Amhara regions, the human rights situation continues to worsen. Restrictions to civic space have increased; the Ethiopian government has become more hostile to civil society including humanitarian organisations, and human rights defenders have been the targets of torture and intimidation. The arrest of journalists Sabontu Ahmed, Bekalu Alamirew and Meaza Muhamed in May 2022 brought the total of journalists and media personnel detained since the beginning of the conflict to 19, and their whereabouts is unknown.

We are seriously alarmed by reports of crimes against humanity amidst a wide range of human rights violations, including mass killings, sexual violence, and military targeting of civilians. On 18 June more than 200 people, mostly from the Amhara ethnic community, were reportedly killed in an attack in the country's Oromia region. About 12 journalists were arrested and detained incommunicado. Two have been reported murdered.

Freedom of religion and belief is at further risk throughout the country: police used teargas to disperse Muslims during prayers marking the end of Ramadan in Addis Ababa.

It is imperative that the Ethiopian government protects civic space, and we call on the Ethiopian government to cease all forms of intimidation of human rights defenders, journalists and other media actors. We ask the Commission of Inquiry what States can do to protect civil society on the ground and to ensure their ability to operate safely.

We thank you.

Civic space in Ethiopia is rated as "Repressed" by the CIVICUS Monitor.