January 18th: Africa Minister say UK Government is” gravely concerned over allegations of atrocities and violations” in Tigray but it’s “the UK’s longstanding position that determining whether a situation amounts to genocide is an issue for competent national and international courts, not governments”. So why doesn’t the Government support the Genocide amendment and give the High Court the duty to assess the evidence?

Jan 18, 2021 | Featured parliamentary activity

January 18th: Africa Minister say UK Government is” gravely concerned over allegations of atrocities and violations” in Tigray but it’s “the UK’s longstanding position that determining whether a situation amounts to genocide is an issue for competent national and international courts, not governments”. So why doesn’t the Government support the Genocide amendment and give the High Court the duty to assess the evidence?

James Duddridge MP
Minister for Africa
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH
Tel: 0207 008 5000

The Lord Alton of Liverpool
House of Lords
London
SW1A 0PW
www.gov.uk/fcdo
Our ref: MC2020/25149
18 January 2021

Dear Lord ALTON,


Thank you for your correspondence of 30 November to the Lord Tariq Ahmad of
Wimbledon, about the current situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. I am replying
as the Minister for Africa.
We are concerned about the continuing violence in Tigray region and are deeply
worried about the risks the conflict poses to civilian lives. We are pressing all parties
involved to secure immediate humanitarian access and ensure the restoration of basic
services.
We welcome the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) being allowed swift
access to Mai Kadra. This should set precedent for EHRC activity going forward, to
investigate allegations of abuses and violations by all parties. The EHRC must remain
independent, and be properly resourced. Other organisations will also have capacity
and should be encouraged where appropriate.
The Government of Ethiopia indicated on 8 December that it would conduct the initial
investigation into the reported killing of civilians on 9 November in Mai Kadra. Since 8
December, we have spoken with representatives of the Government of Ethiopia about
the nature of that investigation and to make clear that HMG supports the call by the
Ethiopian Commission for Human Rights for the independent investigation of human
rights abuses and violations. We are aware of reports of human rights abuses, including
those recorded by Amnesty International in Mai Kadra on 9 November. We are
concerned by the EHRC preliminary report that up to 600 civilians may have been killed
in this incident. We fully support their investigation and await their full report.
We are gravely concerned over allegations of atrocities and violations; we call for
transparency and accountability to be delivered for such incidents. We have repeatedly
called for civilians to be protected, including in conversations with both parties to the
conflict. The UK’s longstanding position is that determining whether a situation amounts
to genocide is an issue for competent national and international courts, not
governments: our focus is on seeing an end to violence and political dialogue. We will
continue to track the situation and to raise with the Government of Ethiopia and regional
leaders these concerns, our concerns about civilian deaths and casualties, and the
importance of respect for human rights.
The UK is also concerned by reports that people of Tigrayan ethnicity are being
discriminated against and unfairly targeted. We have raised this with the Government of
Ethiopia and will continue to do so. Leaders on both sides must be clear ethnic-based
violence and discrimination will not be tolerated, and must stress to all state actors the
importance of respecting human rights and avoiding civilian loss of life at all costs.
There must also be accountability for human rights abuses. The UK supports the calls
for independent investigations of allegations. In my statement of 17 December I called
for the independent investigation of alleged violations of human rights.
James Duddridge MP
Minister for Africa

Lord David Alton

For 18 years David Alton was a Member of the House of Commons and today he is an Independent Crossbench Life Peer in the UK House of Lords.

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For the Uyghurs Genocide is a word which dares...

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