The UN takes a step toward condemning all violations in Eritrea

DefendDefenders welcomes the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council’s adoption of a resolution on Eritrea today. In a clear vote (21 in favour, 10 against, with 16 abstentions), the Council decided to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea. This will allow him to con­tinue his work, which includes monitoring and reporting on the country. In a departure from previous resolutions (from 2019 to 2021), this year’s resolution also addresses substantive human rights issues in Eritrea. 

“Extending the Special Rapporteur’s mandate was a must. Strengthening the resolution is a welcome plus,” said Hassan Shire, Exe­cu­tive Direc­tor, Defend­Defen­ders. “The Human Rights Council should continue to address Eri­trea’s human rights record, clearly describing and condemning violations and outlining a path for reforms.” 

Beyond extending the Special Rapporteur’s mandate for a year, which was the main purpose of previous Eritrea-focused resolutions, resolution 50/L.19 mentions key areas of human rights reforms, building on the “bench­marks for progress” successive Special Rappor­teurs have used. These benchmarks, or indicators, include streng­then­ing the rule of law, reforming the abusive national military service, protecting fundamental freedoms, ad­dress­ing pervasive sexual and gender-based violence, and strengthening cooperation with international and African human rights bodies. 

This year’s resolution is a step toward condemning all human rights violations Eritrean authorities commit. It fails to fully reflect the situation in the country, however, as well as the atrocities Eritrean forces have committed in Ethiopia’s Tigray region since armed conflict broke out, in November 2020. 

“Vio­la­tions Eritrean authorities commit at home and abroad are two sides of the same coin,” said Estella Kabach­wezi, Advo­cacy, Research and Communications Manager, Defend­Defen­ders. “The total closure of the democratic and civic space in Eritrea enables these violations to continue with impunity.” 

The Special Rapporteur on Eritrea is one of the UN’s “special procedures,” independent hu­man rights experts tasked with reporting and advising on specific themes or countries. In 2020, Dr. Mohamed Abdelsalam Babiker succeeded Sheila B. Keetharuth (2012-2018) and Daniela Kravetz (2018-2020). He also builds on the work of a Com­mission of Inquiry, which from 2014 to 2016 investigated violations and found that it had “rea­so­na­ble grounds to believe that crimes against hu­ma­nity, namely, enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disap­pea­rance, torture, other inhumane acts, perse­cu­tion, rape and murder, ha[d] been committed in Eritrea since 1991.” 

Ahead of the Human Rights Council’s 50th session (HRC50), over 40 civil society organisations called on the Coun­cil to extend the Special Rapporteur’s mandate and to strengthen the annual resolution on Eritrea. 

  

For more information, please contact:

Estella Kabachwezi
Advocacy, Research and Communications Manager, DefendDefenders

[email protected] or +256 782 360 460 (English)

Nicolas Agostini
Representative to the United Nations for DefendDefenders

[email protected] or +41 79 813 49 91 (English and French)

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