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Risch, Menendez, Coons Introduce New Sanctions Bill Targeting Parties Involved in Conflict in Tigray

WASHINGTON – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) were joined today by State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) in marking one year since the beginning of the conflict in Ethiopia with the introduction of their Ethiopia Peace and Democracy Promotion Act of 2021 , bipartisan legislation to bolster the United States’ diplomatic, development, and legal response to support democracy, human rights, peace, and stability in Ethiopia. In addition to suspending American security assistance to the government of Ethiopia and authorizing American support for conflict resolution and civil society peacebuilding efforts, the bipartisan legislation mandates the imposition of targeted sanctions against individual actors who are found to undermine attempts to resolve, who profit from, or who provide material support to any entity that is party to the civil war.  

“This legislation sends a strong bipartisan message that Congress will not stand by as the war in northern Ethiopia continues without action from all sides to stop the fighting and engage in dialogue,” said Ranking Member Risch. “This is a regional crisis that requires a coordinated and intensive international response, to include holding accountable those responsible for the ongoing fighting, humanitarian crisis, and mass disinformation campaign being waged inside and outside Ethiopia. We must look at this legislation and other options to directly address disinformation – funding and stoking conflict, no matter where you are, should carry consequences.”

“I am proud to be joined by my colleagues in introducing the Ethiopia Peace and Democracy Promotion Act of 2021 to enhance our nation’s efforts to pursue meaningful accountability for the bloodshed and tragedy in Tigray,” said Chairman Menendez. “The United States and broader international community cannot turn away from the people of Ethiopia as staggering reports of extrajudicial killings, murdered aid workers, and use of mass rape and sexual violence as weapons of war continue to pour out of the region. I am committed to continue working with my colleagues to secure this legislation’s passage and demonstrate that the United States will match our words of support with unflinching, definitive and robust action. A year in, we must confront this raging conflict head-on and hold perpetrators of heinous abuses responsible.”

“Last November, I called Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to urge him to reconsider his military campaign in Tigray and to choose dialogue and reconciliation. In March, I traveled to Ethiopia on behalf of President Biden to deliver the same message. One year into this brutal and tragic conflict, Ethiopia is facing a full blown humanitarian catastrophe and spreading civil war,” said Senator Coons. “I am joining my colleagues to introduce this bipartisan legislation to punish actors that continue to fuel violence, violate human rights, and undermine a democratic, peaceful, and unified Ethiopia.”

The legislation builds upon the Biden Administration’s recent Executive Order and newly announced plans to end Ethiopia's eligibility for trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act in January of 2022 absent the Ethiopian government’s urgent action to stop parties’ direct or complicit involvement in the perpetration of human rights violations and other unconscionable abuses.

A copy of the legislation can be found here.