“What you need when you go into an atrocity zone is a clean slate so outside investigators can look into it neutrally, dispassionately,” said David Crane, founder of the Global Accountability Network and founding chief prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

 The findings of the only human rights investigation allowed in Ethiopia’s blockaded Tigray region will be released Wednesday, a year after war began there. But people with knowledge of the probe say it has been limited by authorities who recently expelled a U.N. staffer helping to lead it, the AP reports.

And yet, with groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International barred from Tigray, along with foreign media, the report may be the world’s only official source of information on atrocities in the war, which began in November 2020 after a political falling-out between the Tigray forces that long dominated the national government and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s current government. The conflict has been marked by gang rapes, mass expulsions, deliberate starvation and thousands of deaths.

The joint investigation by the U.N. human rights office and the government-created Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, or EHRC, is a rare collaboration that immediately raised concerns among ethnic Tigrayans, human rights groups and other observers about impartiality and government influence.

In response to questions from The Associated Press, the U.N. human rights office in Geneva said it wouldn’t have been able to enter Tigray without the partnership with the rights commission. Although past joint investigations occurred in Afghanistan and Uganda, the U.N. said, “the current one is unique in terms of magnitude and context.”

But Ethiopia’s government has given no basis for expelling U.N. human rights officer Sonny Onyegbula last month, the U.N. added, and without an explanation “we cannot accept the allegation that our staff member … was ‘meddling in the internal affairs’ of Ethiopia.”

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