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UN Inquiry reports gross human rights violations bordering on Crimes Against Humanity in Eritrea

Date: 11.6.15 Source: UN

In 2014 the UN's Human Rights Council established a commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea in light of the many testimonies of human rights violations in the country. This week (June 4, 2015) the commission published the findings of its inquiry. According to the report, the Government of Eritrea is responsible for systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations, some of which may constitute crimes against humanity, and has created a climate of fear in which dissent is stifled, and a large proportion of the population is subjected to forced labor and imprisonment. The report finds that hundreds of thousands of refugees fled Eritrea due to the prevalence and severity of the human rights violations, and strongly urges for the continued international protection for Eritrean refugees fleeing human rights violations, and warns against sending them back to where their lives would be at danger in a country that punishes anyone who tries to leave without permission.

The report describe that the Eritrean authorities ignored repeated requests by the commission for direct access to the country as well as for information. The commission travelled to eight other countries and carried out some 550 confidential interviews with Eritrean witnesses who had fled the Horn of Africa nation in addition to some 160 written testimonies. The report notes that fear of reprisal, even among witnesses now in third countries, was a major challenge.

According to the report, Eritrea is a totalitarian dictatorship that violates freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of thought. Eritrean citizens are prohibited from opposing the regime or to criticize it. The government also enacts extensive espionage and surveillance system targeting individuals within the country and in the diaspora, and thus engages in the systematic violation of the right to privacy.

According to the report there is no rule of law in Eritrea. The right to fair trial is frequently violated, when citizens are arbitrarily arrested and tortured, many of whom do not know the reason for their arrest. Many of the detained disappeared.

Nevertheless, Eritrea forces its citizens to join the army, for an indefinite amount of time that could last their entire lives. There, they are subjected to forced labor that effectively abuses, exploits and enslaves them for years. The report additionally notes that Women conscripts are at extreme risk of sexual violence during national service.

 

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