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Philippines votes vs HR probe in Ethiopia

The Philippine Star
Philippines votes vs HR probe in Ethiopia
The 47-member UN HRC passed the resolution during a special session on Friday, with 21 countries in favor, 15 against and 11 abstentions.
AFP

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has voted against a resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UN HRC) establishing an international commission that will conduct an investigation into allegations of human rights violations and abuses in Ethiopia.

The 47-member UN HRC passed the resolution during a special session on Friday, with 21 countries in favor, 15 against and 11 abstentions.

The resolution mandates the creation of a commission composed of three human rights experts who will “conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into allegations of violations and abuses” in relation to the conflict in northern Ethiopia since November 2020.

The commission was also directed to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations and abuses, collect and preserve evidence and identify those responsible.

It will complement the work of the existing joint investigative team that submitted a report on the situation to the UN human rights body.

While the Philippines is gravely concerned by the findings of the joint investigation report, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the resolution does not “help the situation in any way.”

“This cannot continue,” he said in a statement delivered by Philippine deputy permanent representative Maria Teresa Almojuela, referring to the reported abuses in northern Ethiopia.

“But it will if we resort to the cheap tactics of sovereign usurpation by the last countries in the world entitled to substitute their judgment for that of the specific country concerned,” he added.

He noted that the Ethiopian government, while expressing reservations on the report, did not dispute or disregard its findings.

“Instead, it has set up an inter-ministerial task force to oversee redress and accountability measures in response to these human rights violations. It has begun to implement the recommendations in the report, which we note was issued only a month ago. The Philippines welcomes these actions,” said Locsin.

He also cited the statement of the independent Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which expressed concern that the international investigative mechanism duplicates the work of the joint investigative team.

“That only further delays redress for victims and survivors and an end to the horror,” Locsin pointed out.

He urged proponents of the resolution to “learn to respect and not pre-empt a sovereign state’s prerogative to set up its own national accountability efforts and mechanisms to address human rights and humanitarian law violations.”

“They must cease using the Human Rights Council for unilateral undeservedly self-important actions that hinder cooperative and constructive efforts to change the human rights situation on the ground,” he added.

The resolution was submitted to the UN HRC by European Union (EU) member-states.

Voting in favor were EU members Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Poland, as well as Argentina, Armenia, Bahamas, Brazil, Fiji, Japan, Marshall Islands, Mexico, South Korea, United Kingdom and Ukraine.

Among those that voted with the Philippines against it were China, Russia, India, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela and Pakistan, as well as African nations Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte D’Ivore, Eritrea, Gabon, Namibia and Somalia.

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