Statement: Eritrea's adoption of Universal Periodic Review on Human Rights

41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council

The Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights (EMDHR), Eritrea Focus, and CIVICUS welcome the government of Eritrea’s engagement with the UPR process and for its acceptance of 131 UPR recommendations. We also welcome the Declaration of Peace and Friendship signed between Eritrea and Ethiopia in July 2018, and the shared commitments to make progress towards achieving sustainable peace in the region.

But regional overtures towards peace have not translated into national policy and practices. Since Eritrea’s last review, it has failed to implement any recommendations it accepted pertaining to civic space and fundamental freedoms.

Instead, the human rights situation in the country continues to worsen, civic space continues to be severely suppressed, and serious restrictions to freedom of peaceful assembly, association, and expression prevail.

Mr President, we are deeply concerned by the closure of 20 health centres administered by Catholic churches, and the arbitrary arrest and detention of four Christian bishops based in Debre Bizen monastery and of 141 Christians in Mai Temenai district in June 2019, which followed a call by the Catholic Church for genuine dialogue on peace and reconciliation in Eritrea. Such actions illustrate the willful failure of the Eritrean government to implement UPR recommendations and improve the repressive environment for civic space and basic freedoms.

We note with concern the lack of constitutionalism in Eritrea, a situation that perpetuates human rights violations and abuses by government institutions with impunity, where activists, journalists and human rights defenders continue to be arrested and illegally detained.

Mr President, Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights, Eritrea Focus, and CIVICUS call on the Government of Eritrea to immediately and urgently take proactive measures to implement all UPR recommendations, particularly pertaining to removing restrictive laws that undermine civic space and create an enabling environment for journalists and human rights defenders to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.