The Federal Prosecutor’s Office of Brussels confirmed on 2 June 2021 that it has opened a file on various war crimes and crimes against humanity in Tigray, Ethiopia. Several Belgian victims of the war in northern Ethiopia had submitted testimonies to the Prosecutor’s Office. Their relatives were executed and property looted.
A fierce war is still raging in the Ethiopian region of Tigray. The armies of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed invaded the region in November last year, in order to eliminate his political rivals. He called on the Eritrean regime to cross the border with tens of thousands of soldiers.
Since then, thousands of civilians have been killed by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops. Human rights organisations have observed ethnic persecution, torture and mass executions. The Ethiopian army’s aggression against the Tigray minority has increased further in recent months. Gang rape is now widely used as a weapon of war. The United Nations even accuse the Ethiopian regime of deliberately delaying food aid to the region.
The Union of Tigrayans in Belgium supports the complaint of the Belgian-Tigrayan war victims. Five relatives of victims asked the Federal Prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation into the war criminals within the Ethiopian and Eritrean regimes. It is possible in Belgium to try crimes against humanity, even if they did not take place in Belgium, if some of the victims are Belgian.
Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, but that was of course before the start of the atrocities in Tigray. The many war crimes remain mostly under the radar because the regime bars journalists and blocks the internet. Moreover, Ethiopia does not recognise the International Criminal Court. The investigation by a Federal Prosecutor’s Office would be the first to lead to a trial of members of the regime of Abiy Ahmed for crimes against humanity.