Statement on human rights violations in Eritrea

35th session UN Human Rights Council

14 June 2017
Statement during the interactive dialogue on the report of the Special Rapporteur on situation of human rights in Eritrea

CIVICUS welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea and applauds her unwavering efforts to ampifly the voices of civil society and victims of human rights violations in Eritrea and in the diaspora.

Mr. President, the Special Rapporteur’s report to the Council is unequivocal that Eritreans continue to be subjected to grave and systematic violations of fundamental freedoms, some of which amount to crimes against humanity. Worryingly the Special Rapporteur has concluded that the human rights situation in Eritrea “has not significantly improved.” 

We remain deeply concerned that the Government has failed to take adequate measures to address the human rights situation in Eritrea as documented by the Commission of Inquiry.

During the reporting period, the Special Rapporteur received information that the government’s military and national service programmes remain arbitrary, protracted and involuntary, which is tantamount to enslavement. 

The Government has further failed to release countless arbitrarily detained prisoners for exercising their fundamental rights and refuses to provide sufficient information about the status of several prominent activists and individuals who have been forcibly disappeared. 

As a result of these and other deprivations of human rights, thousands of Eritreans, including scores of unaccompanied children, are forced to traverse perilous situations to secure refuge abroad every year. 

We support the Special Rapporteur’s decision to devote greater time and resources to address impunity, including by engaging a diversity of actors including victims, survivors, family members, human rights defenders and lawyers to help facilitate access to justice and accountability for human rights violations.

We urge the Government of Eritrea to take proactive measures to implement the specific and time-bound benchmarks developed by the Special Rapporteur to assess substantive change in the country. 

We respectfully request members and observer states of the Council to co-sponsor a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea and provide the mandate holder with all necessary support.