The foreign ministers of France and Germany on Thursday said, there can be no reconciliation without justice in Ethiopia as they called for the establishment of a transitional justice mechanism to punish abuses that occurred during the country’s conflict.
France’s Catherine Colonna and Annalena Baerbock of Germany visited Ethiopia to support a peace agreement signed last year to end the two-year conflict in the country’s northern region of Tigray.
Colonna said she welcomed the “good progress which we encourage to continue” in the peace process between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The trip comes a day after Tigrayan forces announced they were starting to surrender their heavy weapons, a key component of the Nov. 2 agreement to silence the guns.
“Hostilities have ceased, aid has been able to reach the regions which had not received it… a return of arms (by Tigray Forces) has begun,” she said at a press briefing.
But the ministers also called for the establishment of a transitional justice mechanism to punish abuses committed during the conflict.
“We, Germans and French, know from our own experience that reconciliation does not happen overnight. But without the prospect of justice for the victims of crimes, reconciliation and lasting peace are not possible,” Baerbock said.
“The question of accountability is important for us with a view to Ethiopia’s future and peace process, but also toward strengthening international law,” she added after talks with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
The country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen told the press conference that Addis Ababa would ensure crimes do not go unpunished.
He said Ethiopia had asked the United Nations human rights office and Ethiopia’s own rights commission to deploy monitors in war-affected areas.
The conflict that erupted in November 2020 killed thousands of civilians, displaced more than 2 million and left millions more in need of urgent humanitarian aid.