News: EHRC calls for criminal liability as Oromia region prepares for conciliation process with Karrayyu community

Addis Abeba – The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) cautioned that the planned reconciliation process between the families of executed Karrayu Abba Gadaas and the perpetrators. “Conciliation should not replace or impede criminal liability,” the commission warned. 

In a statement released yesterday, the EHRC stated that in a follow-up investigation carried out between March 7 and 12, the commission spoke to the Oromia region attorney general bureau, the regional police commission, the East Showa zone police, the investigative team as well as Karrayu elders and community leaders. 

It is to be recalled that weeks after the killing of Karrayyu Abba Gadaas on December 1st of 2021, members of the ruling party publicly admitted government forces’ involvement in the killings. Hangasa Ibrahim, a member of the House of People’s Representatives accused the head of Oromia police commissions, commissioner Ararsa Merdasa of being behind the killings in a live Facebook video while the state minister of peace, Taye Dendea posted to his personal Facebook page with over half a million followers implying that the Karrayyu Gadaa leaders were killed by elements within the regional government. 

The commission confirmed that the Oromia regional state has established an investigative team comprising Oromia attorney general office and Oromia police has launched an investigation into the killings. Nine people have been arrested and are being investigated until March 13, 2022. 

After commending the efforts by the Oromia regional government to hold perpetrators to account, the commission noted that suspects who had involvement in the killings remain at large. Citing reliable sources, the commission stated that the suspects are government officials who are influencing the ongoing investigation. Security and administrative personnel are failing to facilitate the fast completion of the investigation, the commission said. The statement also noted that the suspects who are under police custody were not brought to the court of law.  

This comes two days after the Oromia regional government announced that it was preparing to hold a reconciliation process with the Karrayyu community. In a statement released on March 22, the Oromia communication bureau stated that it reached an agreement with the Abba Gadaa union to reconcile those who committed the killings and the families of victims. The statement didn’t identify the perpetrators by name. 

The EHRC urged that such attempts to address public grievances must be with the full consent and involvement of the victims, the families of the victims, and the local community. The EHRC commissioner Daniel Bekele urged government officials and stakeholders to work for a comprehensive reconciliation, peace, justice, and accountability. AS

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