The head of the World Health Organisation should be prosecuted for genocide over his alleged role as decision-maker when Ethiopia’s security forces killed and tortured its own people, says a former Nobel Peace Price nominee. 

David Steinman, an economist and campaigner, accused Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has been the head of the WHO for three years, e peace prize last year, in a complaint lodged at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

He claimed that Dr Tedros, in the period from 2013 to 2015,  “was a crucial decision maker in relation to security service actions that included killing, arbitrarily detaining and torturing Ethiopians”.

Dr Tedros was the country’s health minister from 2005 to 2012 and its foreign minister until 2016, when his Tigray People’s Liberation Front party was the main member of the ruling coalition, the Times reports.

Mr Steinman, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, was a senior adviser to Ethiopia’s democracy movement for 27 years. The complaint to the ICC comes after General Berhanu Jula, Ethiopia’s army chief of staff, called last month for  Dr Tedros to resign.

The complaint points to a report on human rights in Ethiopia issued by the US government in 2016 which found the “civilian authorities at times did not maintain control over the security forces, and local police in rural areas and local militias sometimes acted independently”.

Mr Steinman accused Dr Tedros of being involved in the “intimidation of opposition candidates and supporters”, including “arbitrary arrest . . . and lengthy pre-trial detention”.

The complaint also alleges that that Dr Tedros oversaw the “killing, and causing serious bodily and mental harm to, members of the Amhara, Konso, Oromo and Somali tribes with intent to destroy those tribes in whole or in part”

Dr Tedros denies any wrongdoing, saying “There have been reports suggesting I am taking sides in this situation,” he said. “This is not true and I want to say that I am on only one side and that is the side of peace.”

Although Dr Tedros has been in charge of the UN’s health body during the coronavirus pandemic, he does not have any medical qualifications.