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Eritrea: Dire Rights Record Should be Publicly Condemned

HRW oral statement - ID with Special Rapporteur on Eritrea - HRC53

Delegates attend the opening day of the 50th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, in Geneva, June 13, 2022. © 2022 Keystone/Valentin Flauraud

We thank the Special Rapporteur for his emphasis on critical rights concerns in Eritrea, including the ongoing abusive indefinite forced conscription system and the abuses Eritrean forces are committing in Tigray.

From mid-2022 through early 2023, the government of Eritrea 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, a food rationing system, critical to many people’s survival.

As the special rapporteur’s report describes, the government’s conscription system continues to have a devastating impact on children’s education, pushing students into military service before they finish secondary school and compelling many to drop out.  

Eight months after a cessation of hostilities agreement between Ethiopia and Tigrayan authorities, Eritrean forces in the Tigray region have continued to commit serious violations and to restrict civilians’ access to critical aid.  The special rapporteur rightfully underscores the silence of key stakeholders, including the Ethiopian and Eritrean authorities, on how serious violations committed by the Eritrea forces, will be investigated and prosecuted.

Inside Eritrea, authorities continue to detain individuals incommunicado and indefinitely, some for decades, including for their religious beliefs. In 2023, religious groups have continued to report new arrests of Christians.

Eritrea still sits on the Human Rights Council with no consequences for of its blatant rejection of membership standards and requirements. More public condemnation of Eritrea’s rights record is needed and ongoing Council scrutiny of the Eritrean government’s dire rights record at home and abroad remains essential.

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