Press Release: Central Front Awards Ertitrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission
Ministry of Foreign affairs
Asmara, 29 April 2004

Yesterday, 28 April 2004, the Eritrea-Ethiopia claims Commission released its decisions on the claims that Eritrea made for wartime damage in the central Area of the border. The Commission accepted Eritrea’s claims about the deliberate destruction of Senafe and Tsorona. It rejected Ethiopia’s claims that Eritrea deliberately bombed civilian areas.

Eritrea’s claims about Senafe involved the Ethiopian army’s deliberate detonation of all of Senafe’s major buildings, and of its looting of houses and businesses. The Commission found that Eritrea had offered evidence of “deliberate, unlawful destruction of infrastructure” in Senafe. Stating that “most of these buildings had been demolished by military explosives.” The Commission agreed with Eritrea that such destruction could never be justified under the Geneva Conventions. Although Ethiopia denies that its soldiers looted Senafe, the Commission found Ethiopia responsible for “widespread looting and destruction of property from homes, businesses, schools, clinics, and churches.” The Commission also believes Eritrea’s “detailed and cumulative evidence” of rape committed by Ethiopian soldiers in Senafe.

Regarding Tsorona, the Commission found that Eritrea had proven, using satellite photographs and other evidence, that Ethiopia illegally destroyed numerous civilian buildings, including the administration building, the health center, and the Warsay hotel. The Commission cited “the evident substantial use of explosives to destroy these three buildings.” It also noted Eritrea’s “credible witness statements” establishing the stripping, looting, and “pillage” of Tsorona by Ethiopia, stating, “Ethiopia is liable for permitting the unlawful looting and stripping of buildings in the town during the period of its occupation.” The Commission also found Ethiopia liable for looting and stripping of the Tsorona Martyrs’ Cemetery.

In addition, the Commission awarded Eritrea compensation for the destruction of Serha, noting that the town was virtually completely demolished during the war and that “the bulk of that damage occurred while Ethiopia occupied the village and acted in violation of Article 53 of Geneva Convention IV.” Ethiopia was also held responsible for its deliberate destruction of the Stele of Matara: the Commission holds that the felling of the Stele was a violation of customary international humanitarian law… Consequently, Ethiopia is liable for the unlawful damage inflicted upon the Stele of Matara.”

Ethiopia’s main claim against Eritrea was based on its accusation that Eritrea deliberately bomebed civilian areas. The Commission specifically rejected Ethiopia’s claim that Eritrea had intentionally bomebed a school in Mekele, as well as the Ethiopian claims that Eritrea had illegally bombed Adigrat. The Commission also rejected Ethiopia’s claims that shelling and use of landmines by the Eritrean military had been indiscriminate or had intentionally targeted civilians. With regards to Ethiopia’s claim about Zalambessa, the Commission rejected Ethiopia’s allegation rejected Ethiopia’s allegation that it had not shelled the town and held that some of the damage to the town was caused by Ethiopian attacks.

Over the next year, the Commission will deal with the Parties’ other claims, including damage caused by military operations in the Western Zone, violation of diplomatic immunities and other economic losses, such as pensions. The text of the Commission’s Findings of Liability for Violations of International Law by Ethiopia are attached. The full text of the Commission’s awards are available on the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at

Ministry of Foreign affairs
Asmara, 29 April 2004

Partial Award-Central Front
Eritrea’s claims 2, 4, 6, 7, 8&22

D. Findings of Liability for Violation of International Law

The Respondent is liable to the Claimant for the following violations of international law committed by its military personnel or by other officials of the state of Ethiopia.

1. For permitting the looting and stripping of buildings in Tsorona town while it occupied the town from late May 2000 until late February 2001, it is liable for 75% (seventy- five percent) of the total damage caused by looting and stripping in the town;
2. For permitting the looting and stripping of the adjacent Tsorona Patriots Cemetery, it is liable for 75% (seventy- five percent) of the total damage caused by looting and striping of the cemetery;
3. For the destruction of the Sub-Zoba Administrative Building, the Sub-Soba Health Center, and the Warsay Hotel in Tsorona:
4. For inflicting damage on the infrastructure of the village of Serha during its occupation of that village, it is liable for 70% ( seventy percent) of the total damage inflicted on Serha from May 1998 through February 2001;
5. For failure to take effective measurers to prevent rape of women by its soldiers during its occupation of Senafe town;
6. For permitting looting and stripping in Senafe town during its occupation, it is liable for 75% ( seventy-five percent) of the total damage from looting and stripping suffered in the town between May 26,000 and June 2001;
7. For the unlawful destruction of or severe damage to the following thirteen major structures in Senafe town during the Ethiopian occupation of the town:

a. The Electrical Authority (two buildings);
b. The Ministry of Agriculture (two buildings);
c. The New Town Administrative Headquarters;
d. The Old Town Administrative Headquarters and Offices West;
e. The Old Town Administrative Headquarters and Offices East;
f. Senafe Secondary School;
g. Senafe Hospital
h. Sub-Zoba Administrative and Residential (three buildings); and
i. Telecommunications Building.

The labiality is for 100% (one hundred percent) of the damage to each of these structures, except for the hospital, where the liability is 90% (ninety percent); and
8. For permitting, while occupying the area, deliberate damage by explosion to the Stele of Matara, an ancient monument in the Senafe sub-Zoba.