HRC37: Enhanced Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea

UN Human Rights Council: 37th Session
Item 4: Enhanced Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea

Oral Intervention
CIVICUS and DefendDefenders

Delivered by Estella Kabachwezi on 12 March 2018

Mr. President, on behalf of CIVICUS, DefendDefenders, Eritrean Law Society, Human Rights Concern Eritrea, Information Forum for Eritrea and One day Seyoum, I would like to thank the Special Rapporteur for her dedication to furthering human rights in Eritrea.

We also thank the panelists of this Enhanced Interactive Dialogue for their contributions. Mr. President, pursuant to resolution L.13, we would like to enquire whether the Office of the High Commissioner can share results of its engagement with the government of Eritrea.

The government of Eritrea was requested to strengthen its cooperation with OHCHR, to communicate pertinent information regarding detained journalists and opposition members, and to consider establishing an office in Eritrea. Has OHCHR seen any progress on any of these requests?

In November 2017, a rare protest broke out in Eritrea at the Al Dia Islamic School in Asmara after a member of the School’s board was arrested following a speech he made criticizing government interference in the private school’s affairs. In the footage that emerged from the scene, dozens of shots could be heard although it is unclear if there were any casualties. No transparent or credible investigation was conducted, and no information emerged about the crackdown, the number of casualties or number of arrests. Was OHCHR able to conduct an investigation into the circumstances of this protest?

The Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea (COIE) called on the Government of Eritrea to ensure accountability for past and persistent human rights violations, amounting to crimes against humanity. So far, civil society has not recorded any significant institutional or legal reforms required before the domestic legal system can hold perpetrators of international crimes to account in a fair and transparent manner.

Mr President, we wish to underline our support for the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, and highlight its necessity until a time where the human rights record in Eritrea sees genuine improvements.



Human Rights Defender of the month:Mary Pais Da Silva

On 17 February 2023, in Ethiopia’s rustic resort of Bishoftu, more than 5000Km from her homeland, Mary Da Silva was announced winner of the 2023 AfricanDefenders Shield Award, in the presence of hundreds of colleague human rights defenders from 36 African countries. It was a fitting validation for the Eswatini human rights lawyer, whose sense of empathy and sensitivity to injustice has been a defining hallmark of her career.
Born 45 years ago in Lubombo, eastern Eswatini, the last of 4 siblings, Mary attributes her values to her upbringing. Although she was born in Eswatini, her parents are originally from Mozambique, and only relocated to eSwatini at the start of the Mozambican civil war that lasted between 1977-1992, which ravaged families and displaced many others. As one of the earliest to escape and settle in Eswatini, Mary’s family shouldered the responsibility of being a gateway for many other Mozambicans escaping the violence in their country for a more peaceful and stable livelihood in Southern Africa. This experience was illuminating for Mary