[JURIST] Ethiopian troops conducting counter-insurgency operations have violated international humanitarian law [press release] by burning homes and property and ordering civilians to vacate from at least a dozen villages in the eastern Somali region, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported Wednesday. HRW Africa director Peter Takirambudde said that the "civilians in Somali region are trapped between the warring parties" and that "the Ethiopian government appears to be pursuing an illegal strategy of collective punishment of the civilian population," which is prohibited by international humanitarian law. HRW also criticized the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front [MIPT backgrounder] for targeting civilians who refuse to support its insurgency against the Ethiopian government.
In March, HRW accused Ethiopia [JURIST news archive], which is battling a Somali Islamic insurgency on its eastern border, of cooperating with the US, Kenya, and the transitional government of Somalia [official website] to secretly detain Somalis [JURIST report] accused of being Islamic militants. In April, Ethiopia admitted to detaining terror suspects [JURIST report] and that it had granted foreign interrogators access to the detainees, but denied the detention was secret. AP has more.