UN HRC 29: Statement Delivered During Individual Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea

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Oral Intervention
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP)
Delivered by Mr. Hassan Shire

Thank you Mr. President,

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project welcomes the report of the detailed findings of the Commission of Inquiry on the human rights situation in Eritrea and reiterates the recommendations made to the Government of Eritrea.

Mr. President, our organisation whose mandate includes Eritrea is deeply concerned by the ongoing widespread and systematic human rights violations that have resulted in thousands of Eritreans fleeing the country for a safer environment in neighbouring countries and furtherafeild.The absence of civil society in the country is of also great concern. Eritrea has failed to live up to the international human rights standards despite having ratified many regional and international human rights instruments.

We are distressed by the restrictions to the freedoms of expression and opinion and of peaceful assembly and association, the impact of which has been heavily felt by press freedom workers. No independent media exists in the country and the government silences journalists through detention and torture. Mr. Dawit Isaak, like many other journalists has been held incommunicado detention since 2001.
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We are further concerned by Eritrea’s lack of cooperation not only with the Commission of Inquiry but also Special procedures of this Council, despite the repeated calls for access and information on the human rights situation. The limited access to the country has affected regional and international non-governmental organisations including our organisation.
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We cannot reach human rights defenders in the country who need our support.

Finally Mr President, the total disregard of the rule of law is worrisome and we re- echo the call of the Commission of Inquiry to implement the 1997 Constitution.
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Eritrea should respect regional and international human rights obligations to which it is party including respect of freedoms of expression and opinion and of peaceful assembly and association. Human Rights Council should continue to engage on Eritrea and continue to demand its full cooperation.

I thank you.

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Human Rights Defender of the month: Kasale Maleton Mwaana

Kasale’s human rights activism precedes his years. The son of pastoralist parents from Ngorongoro district in northern Tanzania, he grew up seeing his parents and entire community having to defend their land and way of life against authorities who thought their lands could be put to better use. Now, at 25, Kasale is already one of the most recognizable advocates of his people’s cause, much to the ire of Tanzanian authorities.
“Our people’s struggle goes back many generations. It started with the pushing out of our forefathers from Serengeti to gazette Serengeti National Park in 1959, and then further evictions from the Ngorongoro crater to gazette the Ngorongoro conservation area in 1975. Since then, every generation has had to resist further evictions. It’s now my generation’s turn,” he says.

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