Renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for UN human rights in Eritrea.
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We, the undersigned members of the Eritrean Diaspora around the world, urge the government of all countries to support the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea during the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2018, when it will come up for renewal.
The Eritrean authorities have consistently failed to act on vital reforms that would put its laws, policies and practices into conformity with international human rights law and standards. These include, but are not limited to, breaches of the right to life resulting in death in custody, enforced disappearances, sub-human detention conditions without charge or trial, protection from torture and other ill-treatment, freedom of religion or belief, the rights to freedom of association, expression and peaceful assembly, women’s rights, the rights of the child, minority rights, as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Violations of human rights in Eritrea continue to prevail, despite the numerous and repeated calls to stop from the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, other UN and regional human rights mechanisms.
The international community heard during the presentation of the Special Rapporteur on 12 March 2018, that on Saturday 3rd March 2018, the family of Haji Musa Mohamednur, aged 93 years, received information that the respected elder and former freedom fighter died while in jail. He had been arbitrarily arrested and detained for almost four months. At least a thousand individuals have been arrested in Asmara after the burial of Haji Musa. The arrests are on-going.
All this started on 31 October 2017, when Haji Musa stood up against governmental impositions of unacceptable rules on the Al Diaa school in Asmara. Together with other members of the school committee, he was put in jail, a situation which sparked protests in the capital city. The government’s response to the protests involved excessive and unnecessary use of force, including firearms, against unarmed protesters. Hundreds of arrests were carried out by security forces and other violations of human rights committed, such as violations of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including shutting down of the Internet, in a bid to suppress information from being disseminated. An unknown number of people arrested during the protests remain in prison, with their due process rights infringed. These recent developments illustrate the lack of space for the population to express peaceful dissent, putting them at risk.
Eritrea has failed to cooperate with the international community, with the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea, as well as other Special Procedures Mandate Holders, to address this long list of human rights challenges. The recent visits by officials from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights are not meaningful in that they do not monitor the situation of human rights in Eritrea. In addition, the country continues to deny independent monitoring from key human rights experts.
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Eritrea has played an important role in shedding light on human rights violations that are routinely committed in the country with complete impunity. The work of the mandate has contributed to attracting the attention of the international community to the dire situation of human rights in Eritrea. The work carried out by the first Special Rapporteur, Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth, and by the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea, of which she was a member, has shown that the mandate of the Special Rapporteur is critical to project the voices of victims of human rights abuses within the UN system.
By supporting the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, the government will send a strong signal to the Eritrean authorities that the international community requires genuine and tangible improvements in the country on core human rights issues, including death in detention, arbitrary arrests and detention, enforced disappearances among others, in line with Eritrea’s treaty obligations and repeated commitments. The support of your government will allow the continuation of a mandate that has proved vital for the advancement of human rights by being a credible voice regarding violations happening there in Eritrea.
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