Justice in Ethiopia must not be killed by a peace deal

Published at Al Jazeera Opinion

The Pretoria deal to end the war on Tigray does little for the victims of the violence who want justice. Its provisions on accountability for criminal atrocities are too loosely formulated. The agreement mentions that the Ethiopian government will adopt “a comprehensive national transitional justice policy aimed at accountability, ascertaining the truth, redress for victims, reconciliation, and healing, consistent with the Constitution [of Ethiopia] and the African Union Transitional Justice Policy Framework”.

This statement is too general and open to interpretation and gives enough space to the Ethiopian government to dodge responsibility and never really initiate a transitional justice process that will hold war criminals accountable.

There have already been early signs that there is no political will to seek accountability. One just has to look at the struggle of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE), which was tasked with investigating atrocity crimes in the war in Tigray. The commission has been undermined systematically from the very start.

However, the accountability process is being undermined not only by Addis Ababa, but also by regional players. The three African members of the UN Security Council – Kenya, Gabon and Ghana (also known as the A3) – have consistently blocked Security Council action on the conflict in Tigray.

Accountability and justice are powerful tools to prevent the repetition of atrocities and conflicts in the future. Properly investigating atrocities and then starting an accountability process is the only way to guarantee lasting peace in Ethiopia. 

There are a number of steps that need to be taken to guarantee a fair accountability process in Ethiopia.

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