ICC picks lawyer Murungi to join Bensouda in Tigray case

Friday, March 4th, 2022 00:00 | By
Kaari Betty Murungi has broad experience in transitional justice, human rights, gender issues, constitutionalism and governance. PD/file

Kenyan lawyer Kaari Betty Murungi is among three international experts appointed to investigate a wide range of alleged violations committed by all sides in Ethiopia’s conflict, the UN Human Rights Council said on Wednesday.

The team will be headed by former International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, who served at the war crimes court from 2012 to 2021.

The council president, Ambassador Federico Villegas of Argentina, also appointed Steven Ratner of the United States to serve on the newly-created International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia.

The top UN rights body agreed last December, despite strenuous objections from the government in Addis Ababa, to send international investigators to Ethiopia, amid a grinding 15-month war.

The commission was handed a one-year renewable mandate to impartially investigate allegations of violations and abuses committed by all sides in the Tigray conflict that erupted in Ethiopia in November 2020.

The investigators have also been tasked with establishing “the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations and abuses, collect and preserve evidence, to identify those responsible, where possible, and to make such information accessible and usable in support of ongoing and future accountability efforts”.

The decision to create the commission came after a joint investigation by the UN rights office and Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission (EHRC) determined that possible war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed by all sides during the conflict.

Ethiopia’s war broke out in November 2020 when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray to topple the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a move he said came in response to the rebel group’s attacks on army camps. The war has killed thousands and, according to the UN and the United States, driven hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation.

Murungi has broad experience in transitional justice, human rights, gender matters, constitutionalism and governance.  She has worked on these issues in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, northern Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya.    - AFP

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