Submitted by ELL to 73rd UNGA Session, Third Committee (SOCHUM)
New York, 24th October 2018
H.E. Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal, Chairperson of the 73rd Session (SOCHUM);
H.E. Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth;
Your Excellencies, Delegates of Governments;
Your Excellencies, Representatives of Human Rights Organizations;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Let us start with a development that has greatly shocked and disheartened all peace-loving Eritreans. As citizens and human rights activists, we are surprised and utterly disappointed of the fact that the Eritrean regime – notorious for its disrespect and continued violation of the human rights of its own people – has been elected by a high margin as a new member of The Human Rights Council (UNHRC), despite the fact that its abysmal human rights track record has been unequivocally attested to by numerous well researched and corroborated reports made by the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea (2012-2018) and the damning report by the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea (2015), as well as credible reports by a number of well-known independent human rights organizations.
This development clearly indicates that many countries that are signatory to international human rights conventions don’t take them seriously. It does seem that for these countries, whenever it is time to vote, they put principles aside and play the political game. It is quite clear that this is a result of a “quid quo pro” exchange, which in turn seriously points to the fact that the principles on paper, are yet to be leveraged by a strong will that transcends short term political maneuvering.
On the other hand, we find it highly commendable and appropriate that UNHRC has decided to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea which speaks volumes about the dire need to follow up on the efforts of the last six years and further investigate continuing human rights abuses in Eritrea.
It is worth mentioning in the context of human rights to note the general positive changes in the geopolitical situation in the Horn of Africa. We take special note of Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed’s initiatives for rapprochement in the region and especially with Eritrea. However, bilateral and regional peace overtures will remain incomplete without internal peace in Eritrea that will only come as a result of the introduction of democracy, justice, and rule of law that will bring about changes conducive to ending hegemony, through far reaching arrangements for equitable sharing of power and wealth in Eritrea without which lasting peace in the country and the region will remain unachievable.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The Eritrean regime has never complied with its obligations in accordance with accepted human rights norms, although it is a signatory to all the pertinent African and International conventions. In line with its pursuit of the last 27 years for total control by spreading fear among the population, the regime continues its systematic violations of human rights with impunity.
It took the regime almost two decades to present its first country report – a severely flawed one at that – to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. It totally disregarded ACHPR’s recommendations. Likewise, it treated UNHRC with disdain and its mandate holders with not only lack of cooperation, but outright hostility and smear campaigns.
We therefore call upon UNHRC and the international community at large to hold the Eritrean regime to the highest standard that is demanded by its newly attained membership in the Council and exert on it commensurate pressures to ensure it doesn’t use its membership to forestall legitimate demands by the people of Eritrea and the civil organizations that bring their plight to light, but to instead rise to the occasion and start to show real inclination towards improving human rights in Eritrea. It will be of utmost importance – in this regard – that the regime extends unconditional cooperation to the new mandate holder, including full access to field visits in Eritrea.
With all respect, appreciation, and gratitude.
The Eritrean Lowlanders League (ELL)
- ELL Letter to UNHRC’s 38th Session – June 2018.
- ELL Press Release on the rapprochement between the Ethiopian Government and the
Eritrean Regime – July 2018.