US senators seek possible Ethiopia sanctions

Two United States senators have called on their government to consider imposing sanctions in relation to Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict.

Those sanctions would be against any political or military figures found to be responsible for human rights violations.

The bipartisan resolution was introduced on Wednesday (December 9) by Democratic Senator Ben Cardin and Republican Jim Risch – chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

It also urges the government of Prime Minister and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front to end their fighting and pursue a peaceful resolution.

Concern has mounted over reports of civilians being targeted by both sides, posing a policy dilemma for the United States, which considers Ethiopia an important ally.

On Wednesday, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said they had “corroborated information of gross human rights violations and abuses”.

“…including indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects, looting, abductions and sexual violence against women and girls. There are reports of forced recruitment of Tigrayan youth to fight against their own communities.”

She called the situation in Tigray “exceedingly worrying and volatile”. A spokeswoman for Ethiopian Prime Minister said there was “nothing volatile about Tigray or Ethiopia”.

Abiy’s forces have declared victory in Tigray but the TPLF says it is still fighting on several fronts.

The government has also said it will carry out any investigations into reports of atrocities and mass killings and would only allow independent probes “if needed”.

Video Transcript

REPORTER: – Two United States senators have called on their government to consider imposing sanctions in relation to a month long conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Those sanctions would be against any political or military figures found to be responsible for human rights violations. The Bipartisan resolution was introduced on Wednesday by Democratic Senator Ben Cardin and Republican Jim Rish, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

It also urges the government of Prime Minister Ably Ahmed and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front to end their fighting and pursue a peaceful outcome. The concern has mounted over reports of civilians being targeted by both sides, posing a policy dilemma for the United States, which considers Ethiopia an important ally.

On Wednesday, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said they had corroborated information of gross human rights violations and abuses.

MICHELLE BACHELET, VIA TRANSLATOR: Including indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects, including abductions and sexual violence against women and girls. We have also reported forceful recruitment of Tigrayan youth to fight to fight against their own communities.

REPORTER: She called the situation in Tigray exceedingly worrying and volatile. A spokeswoman for Ably said there was nothing volatile about Tigray or Ethiopia. Ably’s forces have declared victory in Tigray. But the TPLF says it’s still fighting on several fronts. The government has also said it will carry out any investigations into reports of atrocities and mass killings, and would only allow independent probes if necessary.

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