Statement on Eritrea at UN Human Rights Council

CIVICUS thanks the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea for her update this morning. We note with extreme concern that the government of Eritrea has effectively closed all spaces for participation of citizens in peaceful assemblies and it continues to restrict the rights of Eritreans to express independent opinions. The government uses sophisticated surveillance systems to monitor communications and activities of Eritreans at home and abroad.

The main perpetrators of human rights violations are the defense forces which include the army, national security office, police, various government ministries and the office of the president.  Perpetrators act with utmost impunity and are hardly ever held accountable.

The government has shut down all private media platforms and only allows the dissemination of information by state-controlled media organs. This has led to high levels of self-censorship and huge numbers of Eritreans fleeing the country to avoid persecution. Those caught can be shot and killed on sight and are labelled as traitors.

Mr. President, 25 years on after the promise for democracy in 1991, Eritrea is ruled by threat and fear which has also lead into economic disaster. The country is in dire need of foreign investments and might therefore be tempted to open up to the international community. We ask the Special Rapporteur if she has noted such a development to move from a closed to a more open society.

We are extremely concerned that the government does not allow citizens to take part in such a development. The ban on political parties and independent labour unions means all avenues through which citizens express views about government policies and actions are effectively closed.

We urge the government to guarantee the rights of the freedoms of expression, assembly and association as this will contribute to national-building efforts, reduce fear and drastically reduce the number of Eritreans fleeing to seek refuge abroad.

The government should also establish an independent mechanism to investigate past and current human rights violations and hold to account those guilty of perpetuating these violations.

 

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