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432-00806 (Foreign affairs)

Petition to the House of Commons

We, the undersigned citizens of Canada, draw the attention of the House of Commons to the following:

Whereas, Ethiopia has experienced alarming bouts of unrest and violence in the last year.

Whereas, conflict has engulfed the Tigray region of Ethiopia leading to egregious human rights abuses and a humanitarian crisis.

Whereas, humanitarian actors and independent journalists and researchers have almost no access to the effected regions.

Whereas, Ethiopian and Eritrean federal armed forces, forces affiliated with the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), and Ethiopian regional and militia forces, have all taken part in the conflict.

Whereas, credible reports indicate that war crimes, such as the indiscriminate shelling of civilian towns and villages, extrajudicial killings, at least one largescale massacre, looting, and sexual violence, have all occurred in Tigray.

Whereas, the humanitarian situation remains dire, with increasing reports of rising hunger, limited access to food and other life-saving assistance, and a collapsed healthcare system in the Tigray region.

Whereas, Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of Canada's international assistance.

Whereas, elections are scheduled to take place in Ethiopia later this year.

Therefore we, the undersigned, call on the Government of Canada to take the following actions:

1. Immediately call for an end to violence and for restraint from all sides/parties involved in the Tigray conflict.

2. Immediately call for humanitarian access to the region and for independent monitoring to be allowed.

3. Immediately call for international investigations into credible reports of war crimes and gross violations of human rights law.

4. Engage directly and consistently with the Ethiopian and Eritrean Governments on this conflict.

5. Promote short, medium, and long-term elections monitoring in Ethiopia.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

The promotion and protection of human rights, democracy and fundamental freedoms, as well as protection of civilians are all integral elements of Canada’s foreign policy. Canada is committed to standing up for human rights and to striving for a world where the well-being, rights and freedoms of all people are protected and respected.

Canada, along with G7 partners and other members of the international community, are strongly concerned about recent reports on human rights violations and abuses, violations of international humanitarian law and international refugee law in Tigray, and appalled by widespread evidence of ongoing sexual violence. We condemn the killing of civilians, sexual and gender based violence, indiscriminate shelling and the forced displacement of residents of Tigray and Eritrean refugees. All parties must exercise utmost restraint, ensure the protection of civilians and respect human rights and international law. Canada urges parties to the conflict to provide immediate, unhindered humanitarian access. We are concerned about worsening food insecurity, with emergency conditions prevailing across extensive areas of central and eastern Tigray. We welcome the announcement made by Prime Minister Abiy that Eritrean forces will withdraw from Tigray. This process must be swift, unconditional and verifiable.  We call for the end of violence and the establishment of a clear inclusive political process that is acceptable to all Ethiopians, including the citizens of Tigray, and which leads to credible elections and a wider national reconciliation process.

Canadian officials are engaging with the Ethiopian authorities and partners, including multilaterally, to convey Canadian views and concerns, to support efforts in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, to work toward a prompt resolution to the conflict and to promote lasting peace in Ethiopia. On February 25, Prime Minister of Canada held a call with Prime Minister Abiy wherein he reiterated the importance of unimpeded access, and renewed Canada’s support in responding to the crisis. On March 8, the Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke with Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs to convey Canada’s concerns regarding allegations of human rights violations and reports of sexual and gender-based violence, restrictions on freedom of expression and media freedom, and the need for foreign fighters to leave Ethiopia. During the 46th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Canada joined a statement with 41 other countries, calling on Ethiopia to grant unhindered humanitarian access and assistance to the people in need in the Tigray region, to hold perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses to account, and for the withdrawal of all Eritrean troops from the country.

Canada is deeply concerned by the devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of the millions of people affected by the crisis in Tigray. The Canadian government is working closely with its humanitarian partners, including United Nations agencies, the Red Cross Movement, and non-governmental organizations, to help address the immediate life-saving needs in Tigray and those of refugees who have sought safety in Sudan. In November 2020, Canada announced $3 million in new support for humanitarian operations in Ethiopia and Sudan to address the growing impact of the conflict. In 2021, Canada has further approved $34 million to support humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia. Canada is closely monitoring the situation in Tigray and surrounding regions and will consider additional humanitarian support as needed. Officials have been engaging with Eritrean authorities and raised Canada’s concerns regarding the presence of Eritrean forces in the Tigray area of Ethiopia and the need to respect international law on refugees.

Canada also supports efforts underway in Ethiopia to implement democratic and economic reforms, and is working with the Government of Ethiopia to strengthen its capacity to uphold fundamental freedoms and foster inclusive dialogue. To this end, Canada calls for the end of violence and the establishment of a clear inclusive political process that is acceptable to all Ethiopians, including the citizens of Tigray, and which leads to credible elections and a wider national reconciliation process. Specifically, the Government of Canada funds programs which seek to strengthen Ethiopia’s democratic institutions and the conduct of free and fair elections, with a special focus on ensuring the participation of women, youth and ethnic groups, in the electoral process. In February 2020, the Government of Canada contributed $1 million to help strengthen the capacity of the National Election Board of Ethiopia to conduct credible, inclusive and peaceful elections.

As a long-standing partner of Ethiopia, Canada is committed to supporting Ethiopians in achieving progress toward their political, social and economic development goals. We will continue to uphold these values in line with our foreign policy priorities, including as part of our ongoing engagement with the Government of Ethiopia. Canada will continue to monitor the political and humanitarian situation in Ethiopia closely.

Presented to the House of Commons
Scott Reid (Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston)
April 15, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00806)
Government response tabled
May 31, 2021
Photo - Scott Reid
Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston
Conservative Caucus
Ontario

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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