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UN Rights Council urged to closely follow abuses in Eritrea

(ADDIS ABABA) – Two international right groups have urged the United Nations Human Rights Council, to pay very close attention to the human right violations allegedly committed in Eritrea.

A general view of participants during the 29th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 3 July 2015 – (UN Photo)

While delivering a statement on Monday before the UN Human Rights Council, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights situations and on the conditions of political prisoners.

The UN’s report says the Eritrean regime continues to commit systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations that may constitute crimes against humanity.

In 2014, the UN established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate rights abuses in the secretive East African nation and assigned Sheila Keetharuth of Mauritius as its Special Rapporteur.

The Commission of Inquiry was meant to pave the way to establish accountability for the gross rights violations however that was difficult as Eritrea closed its doors and authorities decline to cooperate with the Special Rapporteur.

The UN council’s special Rapporteur then accused the Eritrean government of ignoring the Council’s demand for the government to facilitate unrestricted access to visit the country and provide information necessary for the fulfillment of its mandates.

The two rights group said, large numbers of Eritreans are fleeing the country to escape life-long military service and denial of their fundamental rights.

According to the groups, authorities in Eritrea tolerate no independent media outlets and have been holding dozens of journalists and activists incommunicado for years.

A the occasion, RSF stressed the importance of renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea, which has been gathering valuable information on the situation in the country.

The two non-governmental entities also urged the Council to demand that the Eritrean government provide proof of life of those detained and that it free all journalists, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

“We also urge the Council to renew the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, and to demand that the Government provide proof of life of those arrested and release all journalists, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience” said a joint statement of the right groups.

Recently, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea assured the UN Council of his country’s commitment to human rights and human dignity as a “top priority” and of its full engagement in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a process which offers the international community an opportunity to inspect how well individual states are complying with international human rights law.

Despite the pledge, however, it was disclosed that there exists lack of commitment from regime in Asmara.

“Reporters Without Borders and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project further express concern by the gap between His Excellency’s description of the situation in his country and the systemic, widespread and grave human rights violations documented by the Special Rapporteur and the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea” the groups said.

Referred by right groups as the North Korea of Africa, the reclusive Red Sea nation is one of the world’s most repressive nations.

Currently there are some 10,000 political prisoners in atrocious conditions in different prison facilities across the country where they remain subjected to different forms of abuses. The government uses arbitrary arrest and detention without charge to crush all opposition and to silence any sort of dissent.

Opposition parties are banned and there is no single opposition party which functions in the country. Moreover, anyone who attempts to challenge President Isaias Afeworki or criticises his government will be jailed without trial in the most harsh conditions.


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