The United States has designated Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF) Chief of Staff General Filipos Woldeyohannes in connection with serious human rights abuses committed by the EDF during the ongoing conflict in northern Ethiopia. Filipos is designated pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world.
Under Filipos’s command, EDF troops have raped, tortured, and executed civilians in Ethiopia and have destroyed property and ransacked businesses. Those displaced have described a systematic effort by the EDF to inflict harm on the ethnic Tigrayan population in the areas the EDF controlled. Internally displaced people also described a “scorched earth” policy intended to prevent civilians from returning home.
The United States condemns in the strongest terms human rights violations and abuses in Ethiopia, including those involving killings, forced removals, and systemic sexual violence. Those responsible for human rights violations and abuses must be held accountable through transparent processes. The United States is concerned that large numbers of EDF personnel have re-entered Ethiopia, after withdrawing in June.
“We call upon the Eritrean government to withdraw its military forces immediately and permanently from Ethiopia,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement. He added, “the United States continues to urge all parties to the conflict, including the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, to end abuses against civilians, take steps to de-escalate the conflict, allow for unimpeded humanitarian access, and commit to a negotiated ceasefire.”
Director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control Andrea Gacki said this action against the EDF Chief “demonstrates the United States’ commitment to imposing costs on those responsible for these despicable acts. . . . We urge Eritrea to immediately and permanently withdraw its forces from Ethiopia and urge the parties to the conflict to begin ceasefire negotiations and end human rights abuses.”
Secretary Blinken called on “the UN Security Council and wider international community to come together to push for a peaceful resolution of [the Ethiopian] conflict.”