Human Rights Watch stands by its findings

(New York, November 26, 2008) – The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a 47-page critical report today (www.mfa.gov.et/ ) responding to Human Rights Watch’s June 2008 report, “Collective Punishment: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State” (www.hrw.org ). Human Rights Watch said it stands by its findings.

The Ethiopian government’s report criticizes Human Rights Watch’s methodology and seeks to refute Human Rights Watch’s conclusion that Ethiopian military forces carrying out counterinsurgency operations in the Ogaden area in 2007 committed serious crimes in violation of international law, including forced displacement, summary executions and torture of civilians in military detention.

The government report claims that an investigation team toured key conflict zones in the Ogaden in August and September 2008 and found only “one or two cases of abuses and one of torture.” The report does not specify who participated in the government inquiry.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the Ethiopian government to cooperate with independent investigation of the crimes in the Ogaden area and address growing concerns over the human rights and humanitarian situation in Somali Regional State.

“We welcome government efforts to respond to these crimes, but we stand by our findings one hundred percent,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “If there is truly nothing to hide, then Ethiopia should immediately ensure access to the Somali Region for independent media and human rights groups and invite the UN to send a commission of inquiry.”

For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on Ethiopia’s Somali Region, please visit:

  • June 2008 report, “Collective Punishment: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia’s Somali Region,” at:
    www.hrw.org/
  • December 2007 news release, “UN: Atrocities Fuel Worsening Crisis in Horn of Africa,” at:
    www.hrw.org
  • July 2007 news release, “Ethiopia: Crackdown in East Punishes Civilians,” at:
    http://www.hrw.org/
  • Ethiopia country page, at:
    http://www.hrw.org/en/africa/ethiopia

For more information, please contact:
In Washington, DC, Leslie Lefkow: lefkowl@hrw.org

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