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News: Inquiry Board says it will investigate extrajudicial killings of civilians in Amhara region

Nejat Girma, deputy chairperson of the State of Emergency Inquiry Board (Photo: Walta)

Addis Abeba – The State of Emergency Implementation Inquiry Board has announced that it will investigate the reported extrajudicial killing of civilians by government security forces in Merawi, a town in the East Gojam Zone of Ethiopia’s Amhara region.

Nejat Girma, Deputy Chairperson of the Inquiry Board, told the BBC that following a preliminary report released by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) earlier this week confirming at least 45 civilians were recently killed, the Board has decided to launch an independent investigation.

The preliminary report said that civilians were subject to “extrajudicial executions” by security forces. Nejat said the Board aims to travel to Merawi town to gather firsthand accounts and evidence, but refrained from providing exact timing. 

Previously, Legesse Tulu, Ethiopia’s Minister of State for Communication Services, confirmed a clash occurred between the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) and the non-state militia group Fano, but stated that the defense forces “did not target any civilians.”

Legesse claimed the military acted in “self-defense” after insurgents attacked the army camp to steal equipment and supplies. 

However, several reports of the killings drew sharp criticisms both locally and from international human rights groups.

The EU expressed serious concern and called for an independent investigation, while the US government demanded “unfettered access” for human rights monitors and accountability for perpetrators.

Despite significant media coverage over the past two weeks, the Deputy Chairperson said the Board will not be determined by media reports and said, “We wait for suggestions and official reports.”

Nejat further stated that while the inquiry board’s mandate has recently been extended, “its ability to conduct investigations would be determined by the security situation on the ground.” AS

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