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H.Res.445 – Condemning all violence and human rights abuses in Ethiopia

H.Res.445 – Condemning all violence and human rights abuses in Ethiopia

Source: Congress

117th CONGRESS
  1st Session
H. RES. 445

   Condemning all violence and human rights abuses in Ethiopia, and 
 calling on the Government of Ethiopia and the Government of the State 
  of Eritrea to remove all Eritrean troops from Ethiopia, and for all 
belligerents in the conflict, including the Ethiopian National Defense 
   Forces, the Tigray People's Liberation Front, and Amhara regional 
forces, and other armed groups to cease all hostilities, protect human 
   rights, allow unfettered humanitarian access, and cooperate with 
      independent investigations of credible atrocity allegations.

 IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                              May 28, 2021

  Ms. Bass (for herself, Mr. Smith of New Jersey, Mr. Meeks, and Mr. 
 McCaul) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the 
                      Committee on Foreign Affairs

                               RESOLUTION
 
   Condemning all violence and human rights abuses in Ethiopia, and 
 calling on the Government of Ethiopia and the Government of the State 
  of Eritrea to remove all Eritrean troops from Ethiopia, and for all 
belligerents in the conflict, including the Ethiopian National Defense 
   Forces, the Tigray People's Liberation Front, and Amhara regional 
forces, and other armed groups to cease all hostilities, protect human 
   rights, allow unfettered humanitarian access, and cooperate with 
      independent investigations of credible atrocity allegations.

Whereas the United States and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia share 
        an important relationship and more than a century of diplomatic 
        relations;
Whereas Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa and plays a key 
        role in advancing security and stability across sub-Saharan Africa, and 
        is a key contributor of uniformed personnel to United Nations 
        peacekeeping missions and to the African Union Mission to Somalia;
Whereas Ethiopia has been beset for nearly a decade by multiple human rights and 
        humanitarian challenges, including targeted ethnic violence, 
        intercommunal conflict, natural disasters, and political unrest;
Whereas tensions between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's Prosperity Party and the 
        Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which was part of the ruling 
        coalition in Ethiopia until late 2019, escalated when the TPLF held 
        elections in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia on September 9, 2020, despite 
        the Federal Government of Ethiopia postponing the 2020 general elections 
        due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
Whereas the TPLF rejected the postponement of general elections and considered 
        the extension of the term of the Federal Government to be 
        unconstitutional, and the Federal Government subsequently deemed the 
        Tigray regional elections illegitimate;
Whereas Ethiopia is undergoing a fragile political transition, with the 
        postponed 2020 general elections originally rescheduled for June 2021, 
        except in the Tigray Region, where elections have yet to be scheduled, 
        and with delayed voter registration processes in multiple regions;
Whereas, in the early hours of November 4, 2020, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed 
        ordered a military offensive in response to an attack by the TPLF on the 
        Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF), which 
        evolved into an armed conflict between the ENDF and allied forces on one 
        side, eventually including Eritrean forces, and the TPLF on the other 
        side;
Whereas Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed rejected requests to engage in talks with the 
        TPLF during a meeting in Addis Ababa with former Liberian President 
        Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, and 
        former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, three special envoys 
        appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, the then-African 
        Union Chairman in November 2020, to mediate in the conflict and broker a 
        solution to the crisis;
Whereas, on November 28, 2020, the Government of Ethiopia claimed victory in the 
        conflict after taking Mekelle, the capital city of the Tigray Region, 
        with Prime Minister Abiy announcing that his forces had ``completed and 
        ceased the military operations'' and would shift focus to rebuilding the 
        region and providing humanitarian assistance while Federal police 
        apprehend leaders of the TPLF;
Whereas clashes have continued in the Tigray Region, and Ethiopian soldiers, 
        Eritrean forces, and other armed groups have pursued prominent TPLF 
        leaders, notably killing former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia 
        Seyoum Mesfin as part of a ``stabilizing mission [to] bring to justice 
        [the] perpetrators'';
Whereas the conflict in the Tigray Region has forced more than 63,000 Ethiopians 
        to seek refuge in Sudan, has displaced more than 1,000,000 people 
        internally, and has caused severe shortages of food, water, medical 
        facilities and supplies, and other necessary goods for those who remain 
        in the region;
Whereas during the first few weeks of the conflict, there was a complete 
        shutdown of electricity, banking, internet, and telephone services 
        throughout the Tigray Region by the Government of Ethiopia, with 
        government reports of TPLF forces also destroying communications 
        infrastructure, and subsequent service restorations have been limited;
Whereas in addition to the shutdown of telephone and internet services, which 
        has severely limited the flow of information on the conflict and the 
        humanitarian situation, journalists have been restricted from accessing 
        much of the Tigray Region, several journalists have been arrested and 
        harassed in connection to their coverage of the conflict, and one 
        journalist working for the Tigray Mass Media Agency was killed;
Whereas although the Government of Ethiopia entered into an agreement with the 
        United Nations on November 29, 2020, to facilitate humanitarian access 
        to the Tigray Region, aid agencies report that constraints to access 
        remain;
Whereas, since mid-2020, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for 
        Human Rights, Amnesty International, the Ethiopian Human Rights 
        Commission (EHRC), and other credible human rights monitors have 
        reported gross violations of human rights, incidents of ethnic 
        cleansing, rising cases of sexual and gender-based violence, and other 
        atrocities and a rise in ethnic and intercommunal violence in other 
        parts of Ethiopia, including in the Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Somali, 
        Afar, Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Region 
        states;
Whereas, on January 27, 2021, the United States Government publicly confirmed 
        that Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF) are participating in the conflict in 
        alliance with the ENDF and called for the immediate withdrawal of all 
        EDF soldiers from the Tigray Region, and credible reports have emerged 
        that EDF soldiers participating in the conflict have attacked civilians, 
        including Eritrean refugees, looted and destroyed homes and religious 
        institutions, and otherwise conducted gross violations of human rights;
Whereas the conflict has disrupted harvests, livelihoods, markets, and supply 
        chains, with food and medical supplies looted and medical facilities 
        targeted and destroyed, and with restrictions and bureaucratic 
        impediments continuing to constrain the humanitarian response and draw 
        the Tigray region closer to famine conditions and a humanitarian 
        disaster;
Whereas an estimated 5,200,000 people in the Tigray Region require immediate 
        humanitarian assistance, including almost 100,000 Eritrean refugees;
Whereas, on February 6, 2021, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) 
        announced a new agreement with the Government of Ethiopia to rapidly 
        scale up the deployment of emergency food assistance while improving the 
        process for reviewing and approving requests from United Nations and 
        humanitarian partner agencies;
Whereas, since November 2020, at least eight humanitarian workers, including one 
        employee of the International Rescue Committee, three employees of the 
        Danish Refugee Council, and one staff member employed by a USAID 
        partner, were killed while conducting humanitarian operations in the 
        Tigray region, and one more in Benishangul-Gumuz;
Whereas at least one known instance of allied forces operating under the command 
        of the ENDF deliberately targeted a humanitarian aid worker who had 
        declared his status before being accused of providing food and supplies 
        to the TPLF and eventually killed;
Whereas victims of interethnic, intra-ethnic, and intercommunal violence in 
        Ethiopia come from all ethnic groups, and victimizers often come from 
        some of the same groups;
Whereas examples of reported atrocities committed in the Tigray Region include 
        the massacre in the town of Mai Kadra on November 9, 2020, in which, 
        according to estimates from the EHRC, more than 600 Amhara civilians 
        were killed due to what the EHRC Chief Commissioner concluded was ``for 
        no reason other than their ethnicity'', and a mass killing of Tigrayans 
        in the city of Axum on November 28-29, 2020, which involved, according 
        to reports from Amnesty International, the systematic killing of 
        ``hundreds of unarmed civilians'' after Ethiopian and Eritrean troops 
        retook the city;
Whereas, on February 11, 2021, the governing party of the Benishangul-Gumuz 
        state acknowledged that dozens of its mid- and senior-level officials 
        have been complicit in targeted ethnic violence against Amhara, Agaw, 
        and Shinasha;
Whereas, on March 25, 2021, the United Nations Office for the High Commissioner 
        of Human Rights and the EHRC announced that they will conduct a joint 
        ``objective, independent investigation'' into human rights abuses in the 
        Tigray region for an initial period of three months;
Whereas, in March 2021, President Biden asked Senator Christopher Coons to serve 
        as an emissary to convey the President's grave concerns to Prime 
        Minister Abiy about the humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses in 
        the Tigray Region and the risk of broader instability in the Horn of 
        Africa;
Whereas, on April 23, 2021, Secretary Blinken announced the appointment of 
        Ambassador Jeffery Feltman as U.S. Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, 
        to ``underscore the Administration's commitment to lead an international 
        diplomatic effort to address the interlinked political, security, and 
        humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa'';
Whereas the conflict in the Tigray Region may have led ethnic Tigrayans 
        throughout Ethiopia, as well as those serving with the ENDF in various 
        missions throughout the region, to be suspended from their jobs, 
        redeployed from their forward operating bases, and detained or prevented 
        from leaving the country, and there are reports of surveillance and mass 
        arrests of Ethiopians;
Whereas several opposition political parties say the Government of Ethiopia has 
        restricted their right to peacefully assemble and organize, citing the 
        detention or harassment of some of their local candidates and supporters 
        and efforts to prevent them from opening local offices, and a number of 
        opposition leaders have been jailed since the summer of 2020, with 
        varying degrees of due process violations and procedural delays in their 
        trials, leading some major opposition parties to threaten to withdraw 
        from the forthcoming general elections;
Whereas the Government of Ethiopia, with the help of allied forces operating in 
        Tigray and other parts of Ethiopia, continue to detain prominent 
        political opponents, some of whom have been charged with terrorism and 
        other crimes;
Whereas the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) announced on May 15, 
        2021, that the national elections have been further delayed;
Whereas according to a pre-election assessment conducted by the National 
        Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, 
        ``significant difficulties, including widespread insecurity and ethnic 
        conflicts, delays in National Election Board of Ethiopia's (NEBE's) 
        candidate and voter registration procedures, poor cooperation from some 
        state governments, boycotts and threats of boycotts by several political 
        parties with broad constituencies, as well as the COVID-19 public health 
        crisis, threaten the ability of voters and parties to participate in the 
        process and, thereby, the potential for credible elections.'';
Whereas the Government of Ethiopia designated the TPLF and a group it identified 
        as ``Shene'' as terrorist organizations in May 2021, further reducing 
        the likelihood of brokering a comprehensive political resolution to the 
        crises that involves all parties to the conflicts;
Whereas, on May 23, 2021, the Department of State announced visa restrictions 
        under the Immigration and Nationality Act on, ``current or former 
        Ethiopian or Eritrean government officials, members of the security 
        forces, or other individuals--to include Amhara regional and irregular 
        forces and members of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF)--
        responsible for, or complicit in, undermining resolution of the crisis 
        in Tigray.'';
Whereas the conflicts in the Tigray and Oromia Regions, intercommunal violence 
        in other parts of Ethiopia, and the erosion of political and civic space 
        call into the question of whether the general elections in 2021 can meet 
        the aspirations and expectations of the Ethiopian people and 
        internationally accepted standards for free and fair elections; and
Whereas the conflict in the Tigray Region occurs within the context of 
        complicated regional and global dynamics, including ongoing negotiations 
        between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance 
        Dam, Ethiopia's rapprochement with Eritrea in 2018, threats posed by the 
        Somalia-based foreign terrorist organization Al-Shabaab, a struggle for 
        influence and power among regional and global actors, an increasingly 
        hostile border disputes between Ethiopia and Sudan over al-Fashaga, and 
        the fragile democratic transition and peace process in Sudan: Now, 
        therefore, be it
    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
            (1) calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities in the 
        Tigray Region of Ethiopia and end to violence throughout the 
        Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia;
            (2) calls on the Government of Ethiopia and the Government 
        of the State of Eritrea to fulfill its commitment to 
        immediately and fully withdraw Eritrean Defense Forces from 
        Ethiopia;
            (3) condemns in the strongest terms any human rights 
        violations, murder, looting, rape, and other crimes committed 
        by Ethiopian forces, the Eritrean military, or any other forces 
        in the Tigray Region or elsewhere in Ethiopia;
            (4) strongly disapproves of the escalation of political 
        tensions between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray 
        People's Liberation Front (TPLF) into armed conflict;
            (5) calls for full and unfettered access for humanitarian 
        operations and for journalists and diplomats seeking access to 
        affected areas throughout Tigray and elsewhere in Ethiopia;
            (6) calls for the swift and complete restoration of 
        lifesaving medical services, as well as electricity, banking, 
        telephone, and internet services throughout the Tigray Region 
        and other parts of Ethiopia where communications have been 
        restricted;
            (7) supports the joint investigation of the Office of the 
        United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the 
        Ethiopian Human Rights Commission on human rights violations in 
        the Tigray region;
            (8) appreciates the willingness of Sudan to welcome 
        refugees fleeing the conflict in the Tigray Region;
            (9) urges the Government of Ethiopia to--
                    (A) take tangible steps toward improving 
                humanitarian access in keeping with commitments made to 
                the United Nations World Food Programme and Secretary 
                of State Antony Blinken;
                    (B) pursue accountability for human rights abuses 
                and atrocities; and
                    (C) make progress on pursuing a political solution 
                in advance of the planned elections in 2021 and other 
                key issues with regard to the conflict in the Tigray 
                Region and threats to regional stability;
            (10) calls on the Government of Ethiopia to--
                    (A) ensure that any apprehensions of belligerents 
                in the conflict are carried out with the least possible 
                use of force and that the rights to which those 
                detained are entitled under Ethiopian and international 
                law are fully respected;
                    (B) release all opposition leaders, supporters, and 
                activists detained on the basis of their political 
                activity and views as well as journalists detained on 
                the basis of their reporting, and respect the rights of 
                freedom of expression of all Ethiopians and political 
                participation, without discrimination based on 
                ethnicity, ideology, or political affiliation; and
                    (C) convene a credible and countrywide process of 
                national dialogue and reconciliation inclusive of all 
                nonviolent political parties, ethnic communities, 
                religious groups, and civil society organizations in 
                Ethiopia to work toward the sustainable resolution of 
                grievances and chart a democratic and peaceful path 
                forward for the country;
            (11) urges all parties to the conflict to--
                    (A) cease all hostilities, commit to a political 
                solution for resolving existing differences, fully 
                comply with international humanitarian law, and refrain 
                from actions that could continue, spread, or escalate 
                the conflict, particularly attacks on civilian targets;
                    (B) make demonstrable progress to guarantee 
                unfettered and immediate humanitarian access, for 
                personnel and supplies, to areas affected by the 
                conflict, and take all possible steps to protect the 
                safety of civilians, including refugees, displaced 
                persons, and humanitarian aid workers; and
                    (C) allow for, and cooperate with, independent and 
                transparent investigations of any alleged human rights 
                abuses committed in the course of the conflict in the 
                Tigray Region and other conflicts across Ethiopia, and 
                hold all perpetrators to account in a credible process; 
                and
            (12) urges the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the 
        Treasury, and the Administrator of the United States Agency for 
        International Development, in coordination with the heads of 
        other relevant Federal departments and agencies, to--
                    (A) engage at the highest levels with the 
                Government of Ethiopia, the Government of the State of 
                Eritrea, the TPLF, and other parties to the conflict to 
                encourage the immediate and full cessation of 
                hostilities, and the full withdrawal of all Eritrean 
                forces, mitigate the humanitarian crisis in the region, 
                and support an inclusive process of national dialogue 
                and reconciliation in Ethiopia;
                    (B) maintain close coordination with international 
                allies and multilateral organizations regarding efforts 
                to address the conflict in the Tigray Region and other 
                regions of Ethiopia, and bring attention to the 
                conflict in international fora, including the United 
                Nations Security Council;
                    (C) immediately establish criteria to end the pause 
                of all remaining nonlife-sustaining assistance to 
                Ethiopia and continue to support programming to meet 
                immediate humanitarian needs, including of refugees and 
                internally displaced persons, advance nonviolent 
                conflict resolution and reconciliation throughout the 
                country, and aid a democratic transition in Ethiopia;
                    (D) as appropriate, use all diplomatic, 
                developmental, and legal tools to prevent further 
                ethnic-based violence and mass atrocities, including by 
                nonstate armed groups, and promote competitive 
                multiparty democracy in Ethiopia;
                    (E) continue to take actions that, according to 
                Secretary of State Blinken on February 27, 2021, ensure 
                a ``full, independent, international investigation into 
                all reports of human rights violations, abuses, and 
                atrocities'' committed in the course of the conflict;
                    (F) urgently determine whether atrocities committed 
                in Tigray amount to war crimes and crimes against 
                humanity; and
                    (G) based on the investigations, impose targeted 
                sanctions and accountability measures on those found 
                responsible for committing human rights abuses and 
                atrocities.
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