WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has been accused of being a "crucial decision maker" in directing Ethiopia's deadly security forces during his time as Ethopia's foreign minister, a post he held until 2016.
David Steinman, an American economist, has alleged that Tedros was one of three who authorized the "killing" and "torturing" of Ethiopians during the conflict, when he was with the Tigray People's Liberation Front party, according to The Times.
Steinman, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee from 2019, filed a formal complaint at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. He said that Tedros "was a crucial decision maker in relation to security service actions that included killing, arbitrarily detaining and torturing Ethopians."
Steinman, who spent 27 years as a foreign advisor to Ethiopia in helping them establish democracy, alleged in his complain that Tedros was responsible for "killing, and causing serious bodily and mental harm to, members of the Amhara, Konso, Oromo and Somali tribes with intent to destroy those tribes in whole or in part." The democracy movement in Ethiopia gained success in 2018.
Steinman alleged that during the time when Tedros "'co-led' Ethiopia's government for four years, the regime 'was marked by widespread or systematic crimes against humanity by subordinates.'"
Steinman referenced a report by the US government from 2016 in his complaint, which said that "civilian authorities at times did not maintain control over the security forces, and local police in rural areas and local militias sometimes acted independently."
This was after massive protests manifested in the Ethiopian city of Oromia in 2015, and spanned to July 2016. Security forces in Ethiopia killed more than 500 protestors, who Human Rights Watch classified as peaceful. Berhanu Jula, Ethiopia's army chief, said that Tedros supported dissidents in Tigray with military and political aid.
Tedros became Director-General of the WHO in 2017 and has denied the allegations.
"There have been reports suggesting I am taking sides in this situation," Tedros said about the again emerging conflict in Ethiopia. "This is not true and I want to say that I am on only one side and that is the side of peace."
If the complaint is adopted by prosecutors and goes before the Hague, it would mark the first instance of a senior United Nations official facing prosecution in that body.
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