Secretary Blinken (center), has met with Daniel Bekele, Chief Commissioner for Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (next to Blinken from left).

Addis Abeba: Daniel Bekele, Chief Commissioner for Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), said that the public recognition and support from the US government for the ongoing “nationally owned and led transitional justice initiative send a positive message that also resonate with the people and voices the Commission, its partners and stakeholders represent”.

In a statement subsequent to his discussion with Antony Blinken, United States’ secretary of state on 15 March, the commissioner said he is encouraged by the recognition that the commission’s efforts received. He also tweeted, “good to get the support of international partners for transitional justice in Ethiopia which is one of EHRC and UNHCHR’s key recommendations”

Blinken arrived in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, late at night on Tuesday, to consult implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement with government officials as a sequel of the US effort to support the peace process and smooth transitional justice after the two-years atrocious war ended last November following the signing of a permanent cessation of hostilities agreement between the federal government and the TPLF in South Africa, Pretoria.

During his visit, Blinken met with the Chief Commissioner Daniel where the two discussed advancement in implementation of Pretoria Peace Agreement’s procedures, particularly with regard to transitional justice.

Earlier, several leaders of opposition political parties who were invited to take part in the ongoing nationwide consultations on transitional justice policy options walked out of a meeting on Friday 10 February, urging the government to give priority to peace and national political dialogue.

The consultation forums are being organized by the Ministry of Justice to engage various stakeholders in the formulation of a policy document that guides the transitional justice process that Ethiopia aspires to embark on.

Despite opposition from political parties, the consultations on transitional justice policy options launched on March 06, is hailed by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) as an essential step in the implementation of the Agreement for Lasting Peace and Cessation of Hostilities signed by the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front on 02 November 02, last year.

“Such public acknowledgment from the US will resonate with the people and voices the Commission, its partners, and stakeholders represent” amid the challenging environment in which human rights defenders and civil society organizations operate in Ethiopia, commissioner Daniel noted.

The meeting also sought to highlight issues about community consultations: humanitarian access to people affected by drought and conflict and the delinquent of justice and accountability for conflict victims, including victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Conflicts and attacks on civilians in other various parts of the country, displacement, and other human rights concerns including use of excessive force and detention of human rights defenders, political party members, and media personnel were also discussed.

Secretary Blinken, during the meeting, reiterated US support for national human rights institutions, civil society organizations, and individuals officially acknowledging the role local human rights organizations and advocates play.

“I am moved by the commitment of human rights leaders and advocates in Addis. I welcome their efforts to support inclusive dialogue and a victims-centered transitional justice process to heal the country’s divisions and provide peace and security for all Ethiopians,” he said. AS

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