Today’s interactive dialogue on Eritrea is timely.
Since the last Council discussion on Eritrea, the government of Eritrea has conducted an intensive forced recruitment campaign , during which it collectively punished relatives of alleged draft evaders and deserters. Older people and women with young children were evicted from their homes and arbitrarily detained, some cut off from the government coupons critical to many people’s survival. This has continued into early 2023.
Despite a cessation of hostilities agreement between Ethiopia and Tigrayan authorities, Eritrean forces in the Tigray region have continued to commit serious violations, including widespread killings and sexual violence. To date Eritrea has not publicly acknowledged abuses that its forces have committed, let alone whether these egregious crimes will be investigated and prosecuted.
Inside Eritrea, authorities continue to detain individuals incommunicado and indefinitely, some for decades. Last December marked 10-years since the enforced disappearance of Ciham Ali, detained by the authorities since the age of 15.
The authorities also continue to detain people purely because of their religious beliefs. Three Catholic priests, including one of the country’s bishops who has called for peace in Tigray, were arbitrarily held for over two months in late 2022.
Eritrea’s membership of the Human Rights Council has not led Eritrean authorities to observe greater respect for international human rights law nor to implement key recommendations made by the Council’s procedures, making a mockery of the Council’s membership standards.
Ongoing Council scrutiny and discussions on the Eritrean government’s dire rights record at home and abroad remain essential.