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Ethiopia's Port And Eritrea's Pension Claims Dismissed
Ethiopia , according to its claim, contended that the property allegedly expropriated included 135,000 tons of dry cargo, including aid shipments of 81,000 tons and 1,400 new vehicles as well as 33 million liters of fuel at Assab port at the beginning of hostilities.
However, the claims commission said that Eritrea did not necessarily act in breach of international law.
The commission pointed out that even if the stranding of properties at Assab could have resulted, as Ethiopia contends, from actions taken by Eritrea, Eritrea would still have "acted within the scope of its rights as a belligerent, and did not violate international law by halting cargo movements."
The claims commission further said that the record in the case does not establish that " Eritrea acted in an unreasonable or unlawful fashion in relation to the property covered by [ Ethiopia 's] claim during the commission's jurisdictional period."
"During the proceedings before the commission," it noted, " Eritrea stated that it would be prepared to transfer to Ethiopia the stranded property remaining in Eritrea , to provide an accounting for funds received for property it sold or otherwise disposed of, and to transfer the balance to Ethiopia , subject to adjustments for its own costs of storage and environmental remediation. Ethiopia has not responded to these statements by Eritrea in the present proceedings."
The commission added that Eritrea 's offers in relation to the property subject to Ethiopia 's claim "appear to be broadly in line with its belligerent obligations in relation to the property, although many details remain unclear."
The commission pointed out that no claims relating to the implementation of the post-war return of the stranded property were filed by the "mandatory claims filing date of December 12, 2001, and any such claims would in any event appear to be outside of the scope of the commission jurisdiction."
However, the commission, in its award said that it encourages the parties to consider some arrangement to bring about the early return or other appropriate disposition of the remaining stranded property, as well as the proceeds of other property that Eritrea sold or transferred, "taking account of any exceptional expenses incurred by Eritrea in relation to the property."
The claims commission also dismissed Eritrea 's claim for compensation by Ethiopia for suspending its payment of pension to Eritrean nationals who were formerly Ethiopian state employees, military personnel and employees of nationalized state enterprises who now reside in Eritrea .
The commission acknowledged the fact that by 1998, the outbreak of hostilities, Eritrean agencies were administrating "payment of pensions to former Ethiopian civil servants, military personnel and state enterprise employees in Eritrea , utilizing funds provided by Ethiopia ."
However, the commission determined, that Ethiopia would not have bound itself to make substantial cash payments to an opposing belligerent, as nor would Eritrea have pledged to allow continued activities on its territory by Ethiopia pension administrators or auditors.
In view of this, the commission dismissed pension-related claims by Eritrea .
Regarding diplomatic claims by both countries, Ethiopia was found liable for violating Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations "by entering, ransacking, searching and seizing the Eritrean embassy, residence as well as official vehicles and other property without Eritrea 's consent."
Similarly, Eritrea was found liable of violating Article 24 and 29 of the Vienna Convention "by arresting and briefly detaining the Ethiopian Chargé d'Affaires in September, 1998 and October 1999 without regard to his diplomatic immunity as well as for violating official Ethiopian diplomatic correspondence and interfering with the functions of the mission."
By Bruck Shewareged